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For the bird genus Paramythia, see Crested berrypecker.
Central street of Paramythia
Central street of Paramythia
Paramythia is located in Greece
Coordinates: 39°28′N 20°30′E / 39.467°N 20.500°E / 39.467; 20.500Coordinates: 39°28′N 20°30′E / 39.467°N 20.500°E / 39.467; 20.500
Country Greece
Administrative region Epirus
Regional unit Thesprotia
Municipality Souli
 • Municipal unit 316 km2 (122 sq mi)
Population (2001)[1]
 • Municipal unit 7,859
 • Municipal unit density 25/km2 (64/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 462 00
Area code(s) 26660
Vehicle registration ΗΝA - HNB - IE

Paramythia (Greek: Παραμυθιά, Paramythiá) is a village and a former municipality in Thesprotia, Epirus, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Souli, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit.[2] Population 7,859 (2001).


The name "Paramythia" derives from one of the Virgin Mary's names in Greek ("Paramythia" in Greeks means comforter).[3] During the Byzantine era the town was also known as Agios Donatos (Greek: Άγιος Δονάτος), after Saint Donatus of Evorea,[4][5] the town's patron saint. This is also the basis of the Albanian[6] and the Turkish[7] name of Paramythia, Ajdhonat, Ajdonat, Ajdonati and Aydonat.


The Paramythia municipal unit consists of 23 communities. The total population of the municipal unit is 7,859. The town of Paramythia itself has a population of 2,862 and lies in an amphitheatre at an altitude of 750 m, at the foot of Mount Koryla, between the Acheron and the Kalamas rivers. The Koryla range (altitude 1,658 m) lies on the eastern side of the city and the Chionistra (1,644 m) to the Northeast. At the city limits is the Kokytos (Cocytus) River, one of the rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology. Paramythia's valley is one of the largest in Thesprotia and is one of the major agricultural areas in Epirus.



The earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. Late bronze antiquities have been found in the "Tsardakia" area were a mycenean settlement probably existed.[8][9]

Paramythia has been identified with the ancient Chaonian city of Photike (Greek: Φωτική), named after Photios, a leader of the Chaonians.[10] A famous hoard of bronzes dating from the mid 2nd Century AD, nineteen bronze sculptures were discovered during the 1790s, near the village of Paramythia. Soon after their discovery, the hoard was dispatched to St Petersburg, to become part of Catherine the Great's collection. After her death, the original hoard was dispersed to various European collections. Eventually fourteen of the statuettes reached the British Museum.[11]

Medieval era[edit]

Paramythia seen from the upper street
Paramythia seen from the Byzantine castle

Photike, as with the rest of Epirus, became part of the Roman and subsequently Byzantine Empires. In the late Roman era it was the seat of a Bishopric and was renamed after Saint Donatus of Evorea.

Following the fall of Constantinople to the Fourth Crusade in 1204, Paramythia became part of the Despotate of Epirus. The Despotate remained independent for the next two centuries, maintaining the Greek Byzantine traditions. For a brief period in the 14th century (1358–1367), Paramythia came under the rule of the Albanian chieftain Gjin Bua Shpata, but returned to the Despotate of Epirus by despot Thomas II Preljubović, before falling to the Ottomans in 1449.[12] Paramythia was part of the Ottoman Sanjak of Ioannina.[13][14]

Modern era[edit]

A Greek language school, had been attested since 1682. It declined and close in the mid-18th century,[15] however, another Greek school was continuously operating from the late 17th century and at 1842 was expanded with additional classes.[16] In 1854 a major revolt took place in Epirus and the town came briefly under the control of guerilla Souliote forces that demanded the union of Epirus with Greece.[17]

After the end of the Balkan Wars (1912–1913) the town became part of the Greek state, as with the rest of Epirus region. Until the Second World War the town had a mixed population of Greeks and Cham Albanians.[18] During the Greek-Italian War the town was burned by Cham Albanian bands (October 28-November 14, 1940)[19] Almost all buildings inhabited by Muslim Albanians in the town were destroyed during World War II warfare.[20]

Main article: Paramythia executions

On the night of 27 September 1943, Cham militias arrested 53 Greek citizens in Paramythia and executed 49 of them two days later. This action was orchestrated by the brothers Nuri and Mazar Dino (an officer of the Cham militia) in order to get rid of the town's Greek representatives and intellectuals. According to German reports, Cham militias were also part of the firing squad.[21]

During September 20–29, as a result of serial terrorist activities, at least Greek 75 citizens were killed in Paramythia and 19 municipalities were destroyed.[22] On September 30, the Swiss representative of the International Red Cross, Hans-Jakob Bickel, visited the area and confirmed the atrocities committed by the Cham militia in collaboration with the Axis forces.[23]

Notable inhabitants[edit]

  • Sotirios Voulgaris, the notable Greek [24] who founded the jewelry and luxury goods company Bulgari. His jewelry store in Paramythia survives. Following his wish, his sons funded the building of the elementary school of the town.
  • Dionysius the Philosopher (1560–1611), Greek monk and revolutionary.
  • Alexios Pallis (1803–1885), Greek writer.


The municipal unit Paramythia is subdivided into the following communities (constituent villages in brackets):

See also[edit]



  1. ^ De Facto Population of Greece Population and Housing Census of March 18th, 2001 (PDF 39 MB). National Statistical Service of Greece. 2003. 
  2. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  3. ^
  4. ^ Elsie, Robert (2000). "The Christian Saints of Albania". Balkanistica. American Association for South Slavic Studies. 13: 36. 
  5. ^ Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization M. V. Sakellariou. Ekdotike Athenon, 1997. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 183 "modern Paramythia bore the Saint's name for many centuries..." (c. from 7th to 15th centuries)
  6. ^ Duka, Ferit; Society and Economy in Ottoman Çameria: Kazas of Ajdonat and Mazrak (Second Half of the 16th Century) p.3, periodic Historical Studies (Studime historike) issue: 34 / 2004
  7. ^ Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, Hazırlayanlar: Seyit Ali Kahraman, Yücel Dağlı, YKY Yayınları, Istanbul 2002, pp. 107. (Turkish)
  8. ^ Papadopoulos Thanasis J. The Late Bronze Age Daggers of the Aegean I: The Greek Mainland, Franz Steiner Verlag, 1998, pp. 22, 23
  9. ^ L'habitat égéen préhistorique: actes de la Table Ronde internationale organisé par le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, 1987, p. 361
  10. ^ An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation by Mogens Herman Hansen, 2005, page 340.
  11. ^ British Museum Collection
  12. ^ Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization M. V. Sakellariou. Ekdotike Athenon, 1997. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 212-219.
  13. ^ H. Karpat, Kemal (1985). Ottoman population, 1830-1914: demographic and social characteristics. p. 146. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  14. ^ Motika, Raoul (1995). Türkische Wirtschafts- und Sozialgeschichte (1071-1920). p. 297. Retrieved 22 September 2011. Sancaks Yanya (Kazas: Yanya, Aydonat (Paramythia), Filat (Philiates), Meçova (Metsovo), Leskovik (war kurzzeitig Sancak) und Koniçe (Konitsa) 
  15. ^ "Σχολή Παραμυθίας. [School of Paramythia]". Κάτοπρον Ελληνικής Επιστήμης και Φιλοσοφίας (University of Athens) (in Greek). Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  16. ^ Sakellariou, M. V. (1997). Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon. p. 306. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2. 
  17. ^ M. V. Sakellariou. Epirus, 4000 years of Greek history and civilization. Ekdotike Athenon, 1997. ISBN 978-960-213-371-2, p. 288
  18. ^ Meyer 2008: 464
  19. ^ Georgia Kretsi. Verfolgung und Gedächtnis in Albanien: eine Analyse postsozialistischer Erinnerungsstrategien. Harrassowitz, 2007. ISBN 978-3-447-05544-4, p. 283.
  20. ^ Kiel, Machiel (1990). Ottoman architecture in Albania, 1385-1912. Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture. p. 3. ISBN 978-92-9063-330-3. Retrieved 1 November 2010. 
  21. ^ Meyer 2008: 469-471
  22. ^ Meyer 2008: 476
  23. ^ Meyer 2008: 498
  24. ^


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