Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas is located in the Pindus Mountains, a range that stretches from the remote reaches of northern Greece into southern Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The range’s high peaks, dotted with alpine lakes and intersected by sparkling rivers, are preserved in two Greek national parks—Pindus and Vikos-Aoos—the latter of which is home to the towering rock cliffs of the Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest canyons in the world.
Below the lodge lies the town of Aristi, one of 46 traditional villages in Greece’s Zagori region. Scattered throughout the foothills of the Pindus, these enchanting stone-and-slate towns were once bustling Ottoman-era trading posts, connected to one another by mule tracks and arched stone bridges. Now a network of hiking trails, the paths wind through scenic foothills and climb over high-mountain passes, taking visitors to the cobbled labyrinths of these age-old villages and deep into one of the wildest and most untamed parts of Greece.
The lakeside city of Ioannina is the provincial capital of the Epirus region and serves as the urban hub for Aristi. Within the walls of the fortified old town, minarets and bazaars mix with historic mansions to reveal the multilayered past of a former trading crossroads—a place shaped by Ottoman, Byzantine, and Balkan influences. The city also boasts an outstanding archaeology museum and a thriving restaurant and bar scene.
The Pindus Mountains are a range of high, steep peaks split by deep ravines and sculpted into karst formations. Valley floors and foothills are punctuated by mirror-like alpine lakes and blanketed by beech and chestnut trees, which transition to pine forests at higher elevations. More than 4,000 plant species have been identified in the region—some of which are found on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Plants—and the rate of floral endemism exceeds 35 percent in some spots. Animal inhabitants include brown bears, wolves, and jackals, and large breeding colonies of herons, egrets, and spoonbills congregate around the mountain lakes.
Though Paleolithic remains have been discovered near Aristi, the region was mostly uninhabited until the early 13th century, when Byzantine nobles settled here after fleeing a Crusader-conquered Constantinople. With the rise of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, the people of the Zagori region were given autonomy and special privileges in exchange for sending youth to Constantinople for government work. Zagori towns enjoyed prosperity during this time, but eventually declined with the fall of the empire. During World War II and the Greek Civil War, many towns were badly damaged and left mostly deserted. But after 1949, former residents began to return, thanks to reconstruction and preservation initiatives, and the villages are once again bustling with lively Zagorians who cherish the past as they embrace the future.
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