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Epirus: Ancient Kassope

ancient map of areaThe location of this site is more remarkable than the site itself (as in so many cases). Sitting up 600 meters/1968 feet above sea level, if offers great views far below of the Ionian Sea coast, Lefkada, and the Ambracian Gulf.

The site is approached on a path through a pine forest. The ruins were discovered in 1951-55, when excavations began, resuming in 1976.

This early 4th century BC city surrounded by a polygonal wall, was burned by the Romans in 167BC and abandoned when Nikopolis was founded, the citizens commanded to relocate there in 31BC.

polygonal street paving kassopiThe Agora (market place) above right, has been give most attention,with its stoa and its octagonal Doric columns, terracotta antefixes of eagles and thunderbolts, eagles and Ganymedes. Statues of deceased citizens originally lined some bases that were found, dedicated to the gods and to the city itself. The 3rd century BC building there was built on top of an earlier one. Other structures include a possible Prytaneion, set around a small courtyward which once had a Doric portico; east of the Agora is an Odeion; behind the north end of the stoa are remains of a hostel (a Katagogeion), each room featuring a hearth and table, the rooms surrounding a court with a peristyle of octagonal Doric columns and and entrance porch to the street.

the agora kassopeSome houses have also been unearthed, mostly consisting of rooms around small courts and built during the Classical period, though often remodeled later. There is also a Theater and a Macedonian Chamber Tomb.

Only 5km from this site is the famous Monastery of Zalonga where the Suliot mountaineers fled in the first years of the 19th century when attacked by Ali Pasha. According to the well known account, sixty women danced off the cliff at the summit with their children in their arms, preferring this fate to that of enslavement.

A huge sculpture (considered quite atrocious by some observers) is approached by several hundred steps above the monastery, commemorating this event. Open Tues-Sun, 8:30am-3pm (perhaps open later in summer), 2 euros admission.