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Αώος (Aoös)
Vjosa bei Tepelena.jpg
Aoös/Vjosa near Tepelenë
Vjosa (fleuve).png
CountriesAlbania and Greece
Physical characteristics
 • locationPindus, Greece
 • location
Adriatic Sea, Albania
 • coordinates
40°38′34″N 19°19′2″E / 40.64278°N 19.31722°E / 40.64278; 19.31722Coordinates: 40°38′34″N 19°19′2″E / 40.64278°N 19.31722°E / 40.64278; 19.31722
 • elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length272 kilometres (169 mi)
Basin size6,706 km2 (2,589 sq mi)
 • average195 m3/s (6,900 cu ft/s)

The Aoös (Greek: Αώος) or Vjosë (Albanian: [ˈvjɔsə]) is a river in northwestern Greece and southwestern Albania. Its total length is about 272 kilometres (169 mi),[1] of which the first 80 kilometres (50 mi) are in Greece, and the remaining 192 kilometres (119 mi) are in Albania. Its drainage basin is 6,706 km2 (2,589 sq mi) and its average discharge is 195 m3/s (6,900 cu ft/s).[1] It is fed by several tributaries, such as the Voidomatis, Sarantaporos, Drino and Shushicë.

The Aoös' source is in Greece, specifically in the Pindus mountains in Epirus,[2][3] near the village of Vovousa. An artificial lake has been constructed at an elevation of 1,350 metres (4,430 ft),[4] and there is a hydroelectric dam in place since 1987. It flows through the Vikos–Aoös National Park, where it forms towering canyons and then flows through the town of Konitsa, where it is joined by the Voidomatis. It enters Albania near Çarshovë as the Vjosa River Managed Nature Reserve[5] where it is joined by the Sarantaporos, and then continues northwest through Përmet, Këlcyrë, Tepelenë (where it is joined by the Drino), Memaliaj, Selenicë and Novoselë. It then flows into the Adriatic Sea, northwest of Vlorë; mouth of the river is situated within the boundaries of the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape. In December 2020, the Albanian part of the river was designated Managed Nature Reserve by the Albanian government.[6]


The river is known by a number of different names. In antiquity it was called Aoös (Ἄωος, Ἀῶος, Ἀῷος) in Greek, and Aous in Latin. In Albanian it is called Vjosë or Vjosa, while in Greece it is known by its ancient name (Αώος in modern orthography), in medieval Latin maps was called Viossa as well as Vovousa (Βοβούσα) or Aias (Αίας, Αἴας).[7] In Aromanian it is Băiasa.

Human history[edit]

The old bridge of Konitsa over the Aoos river, just before the Vikos–Aoös National Park

In Greek mythology,[8] Aous is an epithet or name[9] of Adonis. Aous was also the name of the first king of Cyprus. A river and a mountain[10] in Cyprus were also named Aous.[8]

Hecataeus (550–476 BC) refers to the river as Aias (Greek: Αἴας), the name Anios (Greek: Ἄνιος) is used by Plutarch in Caesar,[11] while Polybius, Livy and Strabo use the term Aoös. The Thesprotian tribe of Parauaioi received their name from the river, as those living beside it. Pausanias writes of "sharks"[12] (Greek: θηρία) in the river, as it flows through Thesprotia. It is mentioned as Avos (Greek: Αύος) by Stephanus of Byzantium[13] in the 6th century AD.

In 274 BC Pyrrhus of Epirus defeated Antigonus II Gonatas near the river's banks. In 198 BC, Philip V of Macedon and the Roman Titus Quinctius Flamininus, clashed in the Battle of the Aous. In 170 BC[14] a plot to kidnap Aulus Hostilius Mancinus was foiled by Molossians by mistake. In antiquity the river passed more to the north[citation needed], towards where Fier nowadays lies. Owing to an earthquake[citation needed] in the 4th century, it changed to the present course. This earthquake and river change were the main reasons that led to the decline of the ancient Greek city of Apollonia.


The Vikos–Aoös National Park (Greek: Εθνικός Δρυμός Βίκου–Αώου Ethnikós Drymós Víkou–Aóou), founded in 1973 is a national park in the region of Epirus in northwestern Greece. The national park encompasses 126 square kilometres (31,135 acres) of mountainous terrain, with numerous rivers, lakes, caves, deep canyons and dense coniferous and deciduous forest. The core of the park (3400 hectares)[15] is the Vikos Gorge, carved by the Voidomatis river, while the Aoos gorge, mount Tymfi, with its highest peak Gamila 2,497 metres (8,192 ft) and a number of traditionally preserved settlements form the park's peripheral zone.


The Vjosë upstream from Tepelenë
Vjosa and Mt Nemerçkë near Çarshova along SH75
Vjosa Valley

In February 2005, the Albanian Government approved a law making the Vjose-Narte wetlands a protected area. This legislation followed Albania's ratification of the Kyoto Protocol in December 2004. The river is known for its apport to the important irrigation canal Vjosë-Levan-Fier, a canal that was built in the 1950s for the irrigation of the Myzeqe low plains. In December 2020, the Albanian part of the river was designated Managed Nature Reserve by the Albanian government.[16]

Vjosa is a common female Albanian given name.[17][18][19]


The Vjosa's potential for hydropower has attracted developers to submit proposal to planning authorites for dam projects along the river and its tributeries. By 2017, over 2000 dam projects had gained governmental approval on stretches of river throughout the Balkans, including along the Vjosa's channel. Developers have been met with opposition from European nature organisations including RiverWatch, EuroNatur and EcoAlbania.

A March 2012 study assessed the hydromorphology of the Balkan's rivers, taking into account the structural status of 35,000 river kilometres. The study showed that the region's rivers are largely intact, with 30% deemed pristine and 50% slightly modified.

In February 2020, a campaign to designate the Vjosa watershed as Vjosa National Park gained approval from 20 environmental groups under the leadership of EcoAlbania. The effort to create Europe's first wild river park and save 300 km of rivers and streams targeted several projects identified in a PDF from EcoAlbania: Ashta HPP and Skavia HPP on the Drin River as well as multipe dams on the Vjosa.

In September 2020, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama announced that a protected area will be designated around the Vjosa, though local environmental groups are skeptical about the level of protection due to the watershed. In December 2020, the Albanian government designated Vjosa River as Managed Nature Reserve or Nature Park.[20]

In April 2021 a petition of scientists of Vjosa river was handed to Albanian president Ilir Meta.[21]



The area in yellow represents the drainage basin of Aoös (Vjosë) and its main affluent, Drino; the red line delineates the border between Albania and Greece.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Cullaj, A., Hasko, A., Miho, A., Schanz, F., Brandl, H. & Bachofen, R. (2005). "The quality of Albanian natural waters and the human impact". Environment International. 31: 138.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Acta Hydrochimica Et Hydrobiologica. VCH Verlagsgesellschaft. 2001.
  3. ^ William Bowden (2003). Epirus Vetus: the archaeology of a late antique province. Duckworth. ISBN 978-0-7156-3116-4.
  4. ^ Egnatia Municipality Archived August 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Λαμπρίδης Ιωάννης "Ζαγοριακά", Τυπογραφείον Αυγής, Αθήνα, 1870
  8. ^ a b Parthenius (of Nicaea) (1999). Parthenius of Nicaea: The Poetical Fragments and the Erōtika Pathēmata. Clarendon Press. p. 182. ISBN 978-0-19-815253-8.
  9. ^ Yves Bonnefoy (1992). Greek and Egyptian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0-226-06454-3.
  10. ^ Joseph Eddy Fontenrose (1981). Orion: The Myth of the Hunter and the Huntress. University of California Press. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-520-09632-5.
  11. ^ Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854)
  12. ^ Paus. 4.34,"But the rivers of Greece contain no terrors from wild beasts, for the sharks of the Aous, which flows through Thesprotia, are not river beasts but migrants from the sea."
  13. ^ Ethnica Epitome,"Παρά τον Αύον ποταμόν"
  14. ^ A History of Macedonia: 336-167 B.C by Nicholas Geoffrey Lemprière Hammond, Frank William Walbank, 1988, ISBN 0198148151, page 520
  15. ^ Trakolis: p. 3
  16. ^
  17. ^ From 20000 names babynames website
  18. ^ From Aboutnames babynames website
  19. ^ Albanian names website
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Petition of Scientists of the Vojsa River handed to Albanian President". Tour du Valat. 2020-04-01. Retrieved 2021-04-18.

External links[edit]