THE VILLAGE AVDELA IN PINDUS RANGE
The village of Avdela is situated in the Northern Pindus range, at an altitude of 1,350 metres, and is surrounded on three sides by mountain peaks. The highest of these is Vasilitsa, to the east, followed by Aoos (Avgo), Smolikas and Orliakas. The only opening is to the south, where the Aliakmon river winds its way . The scenery around Avdela is majestic, and the natural
environment rich and varied. A number of learned visitors have called Avdela and its neighbouring villages of Perivoli, Samarina and Smixi "the four Alpine resorts of the Pindus range". This is no exaggeration: dense, virgin forests of pine and beech, small rivers, sparkling springs, picturesque and lovely valleys, luxuriant ravines, and lush pastures embrace this mountain paradise. Each has a famed beauty spot: Samarina is renowned for its Kiourisa, Perivoli for its Valea Dounekata, Smixi for its Giletti and Avdela for Mouzzielou and Souliatou.
"Amid the universal beauty of the Pindus, I remember, in particular, the forest of Souliatou", wrote Stratis Doukas.
"Walking through it you feel as though you were at the bottom of the sea. You can see nothing but the tops of the lofty pine
trees high overhead, swaying in the mountain breeze and filling the forest with their shivering hum".
The village of Avdela and its neighbours belong to the Helleno-Vlach area of the Pindus range, which extends far beyond
Western Macedonia into Epirus and Thessaly, as well as into what is now the national territory of Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and
Under the Turkish occupation, Avdela belonged administratively to the vilayet of Monastir, the sanjak of Servia and the kasa of Grevena. In 1910 it had 1,280 Greek inhabitants and 100 "Romanisers". (1)
The Vlachs of Avdela had always been deeply and sincerely Greek in their national consciousness and Orthodox in their
faith. Before the upsurge of Romanian propaganda, around 1860, there had never been any serious incidences of ethnic dispute. Quite the contrary in fact: the Vlachs in general, and the people of Avdela in particular, had always distinguished themselves in times of national crisis, despite the heavy pressure exerted on the area by successive invaders with an eye to its
The presence of Avdela on the stage of modern history has been documented since the late Byzantine period:
-When Thessaloniki was beseiged by Murat II in 1420, present among its defenders were Vlachs from Avdela and other places in the mountains of the Pindus range.
-In 1453, during the seige of Constantinople, a mounted troop of 2,000 Vlachs, including men from Avdela, took part in the last stand of the Byzantine capital against the Turks, under the leadership of the famous general Justinian.
Once they had occupied the Pindus, the Turks recognized the old Byzantine privilege of the Vlach shepherd captains of safeguarding the mountain passes in their districts. These were the Armatoles, who first appeared in 1537 and were subsequently to play such an important role in the Greek Revolution of 1821.
-Between 1500 and 1611, Avdela enjoyed a lengthy period of prosperity , which finally ended with the defeat of a local uprising under Dionysius, Bishop of Trika1a ( called "The Charlatan") who was from Avdela.
-In 1854, some shepherds from Avdela joined with others from the surrounding villages and organized, in the vi11age of Karpero, a small uprising against the Turkish authorities.
It failed because of a lack of communication among the organizers.
-In 1818, the Avdelite insurgent leader Nikotsaras led an uprising in Zihni, in the prefecture of Serres, and with a band of600 young men, descendants of settlers from Avdela, Fourka and the Albano- Vlach villages, hastened to support Karageorge
-Many Avdelites who had moved to Chalcidice fought in the forces of Emmanouil Pappas, the insurgent chieftain from Serres, in the uprising in that district.
-Among the defenders of Mesolonghi, the seige of which ended with the heroic sortie of all the men, women and children within its walls, there were also men from Avdela: Bresios, Asteris Bezas and "Kapetan Aramos". Among those defending the town was a Vlach from Metsovo, Anastasios Michaloglou Manakis, a direct ancestor of the Manakis brothers.
-In 1877-1878, the years of the Russo-Turkish War and the Treaty of San Stefano, the Avdelites of Veria, led by their fellow-countryman Pavlos Badralexis, proclaimed the Kolindros Uprising, which had a tremendous impact in the region of the Aliakmon river .
The Greek governments of that period, under the influence of the English, maintained a superficial neutrality but, in a limited
fashion and in secret, did in fact support the Struggle. The Kolindros Uprising failed because of the signing of the peace treaty between Russia and Turkey on March 3, 1878.
The leader of this insurrection, Pavlos Badralexis, fled to Athens where he lived for eighteen years as a pensioner of the Greek state. He was pardoned by the Turkish authorities in 1896 and returned to Avdela. He died at a great age in Veria in 1911. He was photographed by Miltos Manakis.
Avdela also took part in the disastrous conflict between Greece and Turkey in 1897. At the time, the armed Greek bands which had just been formed in the Kalambaka district, were dissolved by their new leaders, Pavlos Melas, Konstantinos Mazarakis and Christos Fotiadis. These bands later returned to Greek territory , led by the Helleno- Vlach captains Zermas, Kaloyiros (2), Tzortzias, Spanos, Vrakas, Arkoudas and Lazos.
The people of Avdela were herdsmen like in all the Vlach villages in the area. The lush pastures of the Pindus were particularly favourable to this occupation. These villages, all built fairly high up in the mountains, were generally inhabited only in summer; the harsh winter weather emptied them. The flocks and herds were generally moved from their summer pastures to their winter quarters at the end of October, usually right after the feast of Saint Dimitrios (October 26). Endless caravans of men, beasts and baggage would take the long road down to the plains. This migration was reversed in spring, after the Feast of Saint George (April23).
(1) Pan. Sinodinos: “The Vilayer of Thessaloniki and Monastir”, 1910.
(2) Kaloyiros, from Avdela, later switched to the Romanising faction.
The text is taken from the book “The Manakis Brothers: The Greek pioneers of the Balkanic Cinema”, by Christos K. Christodoulou, Organization for the cultural capital of Europe Thessaloniki 1997, p. 18 – 19.
Pictures of Avdela.
Avdela at the beginning of the 20th century.
Avdela before the firing of Avdela after the firing of
1905. 1905. You can see Miltos
Manakias (one of the first
cinematographers in Balkans
at the beginning of the 20th
century) who points his birth
Avdela during the decade 1920 - 1930.
Avdela 6 August 1928
at the chapel of Saint Sotira.
Avdela during the decades 1940 - 1960.
Avdela during the decade 1970 - 1980.
Avdela at the end of the 20th century.
Folklore elements from the traditional life at Avdela.
Avdela, May 1905: Avdela 1905: The great Women from Avdela
the first Balkan film dance at Boubouania, from´ dance at Boubouania,
“The Weavers” of Manakias brothers’ film from the film of
Manakias brothers. “Ethos and ways of Mace- Manakias brothers:
donia”. “Ethos and ways
The fair of Saint Sotira Avdela 1912: People from
from the film of Manakias Avdela at the fair of Virgin
brothers: “Ethos and ways Mary, outside the church of
of Macedonia”. Saint Athanasios of Avdela.
People from Avdela From my childhood…
on their way to
the winter quarters
Men from Avdela wearing their Men from Avdela wearing their
traditional suits at the fair of traditional suits at the fair of
Virgin Mary (15 August). Virgin Mary (15 August).
Landscapes from Avdela.