Titled the “Sense Zagori”, a new project aims to offer a brand new experience to visitors of the area of Zagori through mobile apps and augmented reality combined with educational playful learning programs.
Zagori is a mountainous area in the region of Epirus, Northern Greece. It comprises 46 villages of a unique architectural style and covers an area of 1000 km2 encompassing snow-capped peaks, glacial lakes, rivers and extensive forests. Its rich natural and cultural heritage have led to Zagori’s inclusion in the National Park of Northern Pindos and UNESCO’s global network of Geoparks. The broader region, that includes the Vikos-Aoos national forest, with breathtaking landscapes, 1000 species of plants, herbs, trees, fungi, some of them endemic to the area, is a unique experience all year round.
Zagori experienced relative prosperity in the 18th and 19th centuries thanks largely to its self-rule privileges and expatriated Zagori merchants and professionals. Many of the area’s schools, libraries, bridges, mills and fountains were built by benefactors who earned their fortunes in places like Constantinople, Alexandria, Odessa, Bucharest and Trieste.
Zagori is famous for its unique traditional architecture. Using local raw materials such as stone and wood, the Zagori villages blend perfectly with the natural environment. The village structure is defensive with high building density and each building protected by high stone walls and closed wooden gates, clearly separating private from public life. Neighbourhoods are frequently based on extended family networks and lineage built around a single centre, the public square where important public structures such as the church, school and water fountain dominate. The village square is adorned as a rule by a huge plane tree planted in the middle for shade. This is where all important social activities and happenings take place. Decisions by the village elders, weddings, festivals and friendhips all happen under the protection of the overarching plane tree.
Northern Pindos National Park
In and around Zagori, a mountain paradise is waiting for you to experience it: Lush nature, awe inspiring mountains and pristine rivers; beautiful architecture all around; fun, adrenaline pumping activities and relaxed, stress-free ones.
Zagori might be better known as a winter destination but those that choose the beaches for their summer vacations are missing out a lot: the heat is bearable, the forests are lush, the rivers are refreshingly crystal and the villages are bursting with life: during the summer months expats flock back here. Religious feasts, the famous greek “panigiria” are abound and there seems to be one every other day in one of the villages: celebrating a patron saint, people set up tables for everyone to feast under a centuries – old plane tree. There is folk music and dancing and endless tsipouro (the local spirit) and food and more dancing and more music…
And in between there are parties and music festivals and exhibitions. There’s also swimming: in the crystal clear waters of Voidomatis, one of the most beautiful rivers in Greece and the cleanest river in Europe, along its pristine shady banks, or in the amazing Ovires – a series of natural formed stacked pools with fresh running water, tucked in a beautiful ravine just outside Papigo village. And of course there’s hiking, horseback riding, archery, delicious meals, rolling green meadows and the occasional summer storm that makes everything smell fresh and shine bright!
Sense Zagori is a pilot project designed by researchers of the University of Athens Research Insitute of Applied Communications in association with the Zagori Excellence Network (ZEN), a non-profit organization set up by local business to protect the cultural and natural heritage of Zagori and promote its sustainable development
Sense Zagori is an augmented reality platform aiming to engage visitors to the area, by helping them explore its cultural and natural treasures, providing novel ways to immerse in local culture and rewarding them for their interaction through participating local businesses. Download the free app, navigate the site, discover all the ‘’sense’’ sites and immerse yourselves in the wonders of Zagori.
The first phase of the Sense Zagori Project was recently completed and offers visitors:
– the Sense Zagori App, an innovative tool that gives access to a lively open-air museum of 1,000 km2 and offers historical, cultural, environmental and educational information. Access to the platform is free for all and it offers incentives for visitors to return, visit the area again and spread the word to others. The app is supported by the Sense Zagori website.
– the first “live” Culture Museum of Zagori through augmented reality. Visitors will be able to receive information about many places of cultural interest through their smartphone.
– playful learning programs to increase visitation of schools and universities from Greece and abroad and to attract senior travellers. The learning programs will be supported by the ZEN member companies.
Read more about the Zagori region and villages via Visit Greece, Discover Greece, The Greek Travel Pages, Greece Is, Zagori Race, The Guardian: Hiking, rafting and relaxing in Greece's Zagori wilderness, The Mountains of Greece: Trekking in the Pindhos Mountains and Naturally Zagori website.
Watch a beautiful time lapse video of Zagori by, Costas Zissis, its finest native photographer: