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Himarë

Himarë

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Himarë is a bilingual region and municipality along the Albanian Riviera
Albanian Riviera
Albanian Riviera is a coastal area in the County of Vlorë running along the Ionian Sea under the Ceraunian Mountains in Southern Albania. It should not be confused with the Albanian Coastline as a whole which incorporates both the Riviera and the mostly flat coastline of the north...

 in southern Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 and part of the District of Vlorë. Apart from the town of Himarë
Himarë (town)
Himarë is a a bilingual town in Southern Albania along the Albanian Riviera and part of the District of Vlorë. It is the largest settlement and capital of the region of Himara. Both the town and region are populated by an ethnic Greek community.-History:In antiquity the region was inhabited by...

, the region consists of 7 other villages: Dhërmi
Dhërmi
Dhërmi is one of the nine villages of the Himara region/municipality, in Albania. The village lies 42 kilometers south of the city of Vlorë and about the same distance north of the southern city of Sarandë. The village is built on a slope of the Ceraunian Mountains, at approximately 200 meters in...

, Pilur
Pilur
Pilur is a village on the Albanian Riviera in Himarë municipality, District of Vlorë, Albania....

, Kudhës
Kudhës
Kudhës is a village on the Albanian Riviera in Himarë municipality, District of Vlorë, Albania....

, Qeparo
Qeparo
Qeparo is a seaside village on the Albanian Riviera in Himarë municipality, District of Vlorë, Albania. Nowadays Qeparo is divided in two parts, known as the old and the new village.-Name:...

, Vuno
Vuno
Vuno is a village in the Albanian Riviera. It is located in the municipality of Himarë, in the District of Vlorë, Albania, along the road between Himarë and Dhërmi...

, Iljas
Iljas
Iljas is a maritime village on the Albanian Riviera in Himarë municipality, District of Vlorë, Albania....

, and Palasë
Palasë
Palasë is a village close to the Llogara National Park in the Albanian Riviera. It is located in the municipality of Himarë , in the District of Vlorë, Albania...

.

The region of Himarë is predominantly populated by an ethnic Greek community.

Geography


The Himarë region is a strip approximately 20 km long by 5 km wide, bounded by the 2000 metre high Llogara mountains to the northeast (known in antiquity and in the local Greek dialect as the Ceraunian mountains
Ceraunian Mountains
The Ceraunian Mountains is a coastal mountain range in southwestern Albania. The name is derived from Ancient Greek Κεραύνια ὄρη, meaning "thunder-split peaks"....

  and the Ionian Sea
Ionian Sea
The Ionian Sea , is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea, south of the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by southern Italy including Calabria, Sicily and the Salento peninsula to the west, southern Albania to the north, and a large number of Greek islands, including Corfu, Zante, Kephalonia, Ithaka, and...

 to the southwest. There are long white sandy beaches and the few hills close to the sea are terraced and planted with olive and citrus trees. The villages of Himarë are perched up high on the spurs of the Ceraunian range in positions which offered natural defences against the nearby Lab Albanians
Labëria
Labëria is a region in southern Albania roughly reaching from Vlorë south to the Greek border near Sarandë, incorporating Gjirokastër and extending east to the city of Tepelenë. The people of Labëria are known as Labs, who have their own tradition of songs, dances and costumes....

 during the Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 era.

Attractions


The area has a great potential for tourism, with the major characteristics of the municipal town being its seaside promenade, the Greek taverna
Taverna
Taverna refers to a small restaurant serving Greek cuisine, not to be confused with "tavern". The Greek word is ταβέρνα and is originally derived from the Latin word taberna...

s and the traditionally preserved old town built on a hill. The town of Himarë consists of the old town, Kastro, situated on and around the old castle and the coastal region of Spilea, which is the touristic and economic center of the region. Other parts of the town are Potami, Livadhi, Zhamari, Michaili and Stefaneli. North of the town of Himarë lie the villages of Vuno, Liates, Dhërmi, with its coastal region Jaliskari, and Palasë. On the mountains lie Pilur and Koudesh, while Qeparo
Qeparo
Qeparo is a seaside village on the Albanian Riviera in Himarë municipality, District of Vlorë, Albania. Nowadays Qeparo is divided in two parts, known as the old and the new village.-Name:...

 lies to the south of the town of Himarë.

The region has several Orthodox churches and monasteries, built in the traditional Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture
Byzantine architecture is the architecture of the Byzantine Empire. The empire gradually emerged as a distinct artistic and cultural entity from what is today referred to as the Roman Empire after AD 330, when the Roman Emperor Constantine moved the capital of the Roman Empire east from Rome to...

, like the Monastery of the Cross, Athaliotissa, Saint Theodore, Virgin Mary in Dhërmi and Saint Demetrius. Moreover, a number of churches are located inside the castle of Himarë, which was initially built in classical antiquity, like the Church of Virgin Mary Kasopitra, Episkopi, which is built on the site of an ancient temple dedicated to Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, as well as the Aghioi Pantes church, in the entrance of the castle. Additional monuments in the castle include the mansion of the Spyromilios family and the Greek school.

Antiquity



In antiquity the region was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians
Chaonians
The Chaonians were an ancient Greek tribe that inhabited the region of Epirus located in the north-west of modern Greece and southern Albania. On their southern frontier lay another Epirote kingdom, that of the Molossians, to their southwest stood the kingdom of the Thesprotians, and to their...

. The Chaonians were one of the three principal Greek-speaking tribes of Epirus, along with the Thesprotians
Thesprotians
The Thesprotians were an ancient Greek tribe of Thesprotis, Epirus, akin to the Molossians. The poet Homer frequently mentions Thesprotia which had friendly relations with Ithaca and Doulichi. On their northeast frontier they had the Chaonians and to the north the kingdom of the Molossians...

 and the Molossians
Molossians
The Molossians were an ancient Greek tribe that inhabited the region of Epirus since the Mycenaean era. On their northeast frontier they had the Chaonians and to their southern frontier the kingdom of the Thesprotians, to their north were the Illyrians. The Molossians were part of the League of...

. The town of Himarë is believed to have been founded as Χίμαιρα, (Chimaira, hence the name Himara) by the Chaonians as a trading outpost on the Chaonian shore. However, another theory according to the name suggest that comes from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 χείμαρρος (cheimarros), meaning "torrent".

In classical antiquity
Classical antiquity
Classical antiquity is a broad term for a long period of cultural history centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, collectively known as the Greco-Roman world...

, Himarë was part of the Kingdom Epirus
Epirus (ancient state)
Epirus was an ancient Greek state, located in the geographical region of Epirus, in the western Balkans. The homeland of the ancient Epirotes was bordered by the Aetolian League to the south, Thessalia and Macedonia to the east and Illyrian tribes to the north...

 under the rule of the Molossian Aeacid dynasty, which included King Pyrrhus of Epirus
Pyrrhus of Epirus
Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos was a Greek general and statesman of the Hellenistic era. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house , and later he became king of Epirus and Macedon . He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome...

. When the region was conquered by the Roman Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

 in the 2nd century BC, its settlements were badly damaged and some were destroyed by the Roman General Aemilius Paulus.

Middle Ages


Himarë and the rest of the southern Balkans passed into the hands of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 following the fall of Rome, but like the rest of the region it became the frequent target of various attackers including the Goths
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

, Avars
Eurasian Avars
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups...

, Slavs, Bulgars
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

, Saracens and Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

. Himarë is mentioned in Procopius of Caesarea's work of 544 AD called Buildings as Chimaeriae. He mentions it of being part of Old Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

 and that a new fortress was built in its location.
In 614
614
Year 614 was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Julian calendar. The denomination 614 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.- Europe :* The Palace of Diocletian is damaged by the...

 the Slavic tribe of the Baiounetai invaded the area and controlled a region from Himarë to Margariti
Margariti
Margariti is a village and a former municipality in Thesprotia, Epirus, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Igoumenitsa, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 3,032 .-History:...

 called Vagenetia.

The use of the name "Chaonia
Chaonia
Chaonia or Chaon was the name of the northwestern part of Epirus, the homeland of the Greek tribe of the Chaonians. Its main town was called Phoenice. According to Virgil, Chaon was the eponymous ancestor of the Chaonians....

" in reference to the region apparently died out during the 12th century, the last time it is recorded (in a Byzantine
Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 tax collection document).
In 1278 Nicephorus of Epirus
Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas
Nikephoros I Komnenos Doukas, Latinized as Nicephorus I Comnenus Ducas , was ruler of Epirus from 1267/8 to c. 1297.-Life:Nikephoros was the eldest son of Michael II Komnenos Doukas and Theodora Petraliphaina...

 surrendered to the Angevins the ports of Himarë, Sopot and Butrint. As a result, Charles of Anjou controlled the Ionian coast from Himarë to Butrint.
In 1372 Himarë, together with Vlora, Kanina and Berat region was given as a dowry to Balša II
Balša II
Balša II Balšić was a 14th-century nobleman, the Lord of Zeta from 1378 to 1385. He managed to expand his borders towards the south; defeating the Albanian Duke Karl Thopia....

 due to his marriage with the daughter of John Comnenus Asen. After the death of Balša II, his widow and his daughter which married Mrkša Žarković, managed to keep the possession of the region up to 1417 when Ottomans captured Vlora.

Ottoman era: autonomy and revolts



The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 overran northern Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

 from the late 14th century, but being a natural fortress, Himara was the only region that did not submit to Ottoman Turkish rule. It became a symbol of resistance to the Turks but suffered from an almost continuous state of warfare. In the summer of 1473 the chieftain John Vlasis, with a small unit from nearby Corfu as well as with native Himariot support, took control of the entire coastal region from Sagiada
Sagiada
Sagiada is a village and a former municipality in Thesprotia, Epirus, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Filiates, of which it is a municipal unit. Its 2001 population was 897 for the village and 2,160 for the municipality. The seat of the municipality...

 to Himara, but when the ongoing Turkish-Venetian war
Ottoman–Venetian War (1463–1479)
The First Ottoman–Venetian War was fought between the Republic of Venice and her allies and the Ottoman Empire from 1463 to 1479. Fought shortly after the capture of Constantinople and the remnants of the Byzantine Empire by the Ottomans, it resulted in the loss of several Venetian holdings in...

 ended (1479) the region was again under Ottoman control. In 1481, one year after the Ottomans had landed in Otranto
Otranto
Otranto is a town and comune in the province of Lecce , in a fertile region once famous for its breed of horses.It is located on the east coast of the Salento peninsula. The Strait of Otranto, to which the city gives its name, connects the Adriatic Sea with the Ionian Sea and Italy with Albania...

 in southern Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, the Himariotes joined the forces of Gjon Kastrioti, son of Skanderbeg
Skanderbeg
George Kastrioti Skanderbeg or Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu , widely known as Skanderbeg , was a 15th-century Albanian lord. He was appointed as the governor of the Sanjak of Dibra by the Ottomans in 1440...

 in his uprising against the Ottomans. The uprising failed, but the Himariotes rose again in 1488, and between 1494–1509, destabilizing Turkish control but failing to liberate their territory.

The Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent personally mounted an expedition in 1537, that destroyed or captured many surrounding villages but did not manage to subdue the area. The Ottomans found it necessary to compromise with the inhabitants of Himarë by grading them a series of privileges: local self-government, the right to bear arms, exemption from taxes, the right to sail under their own flag into any Ottoman port and to provide military service in time of war. However, despite the privileges, the Himariotes revolted against Ottoman authority during the following conflicts: Turco-Venetian War
Ottoman–Venetian War (1537–1540)
The Ottoman–Venetian War of 1537–1540 was one of the numerous Ottoman–Venetian Wars of the period. The Ottoman Emperor Suleiman the Magnificent had been angered by a treaty signed between the Republic of Venice and the Habsburg Empire of Charles V...

 (1537–1540), War of the Holy League
War of the Holy League
There were several wars of the Holy League in European history:* Part of the War of the League of Cambrai from 1511 to 1513, involving the Holy League...

 (1571), Morean War
Morean War
The Morean War is the better known name for the Sixth Ottoman–Venetian War. The war was fought between 1684–1699, as part of the wider conflict known as the "Great Turkish War", between the Republic of Venice and the Ottoman Empire...

 (1684–1699) Ottoman–Venetian War (1715–1718) and the Russo-Turkish war
Russo-Turkish War
Russo-Turkish War may refer to one of the following conflicts between Imperial Russia and the Ottoman Empire:*Russo-Turkish War *Russo-Turkish War *Russo-Turkish War *Pruth River Campaign...

s of the 18th century. On the other hand Ottoman reprisals depopulated the area and led to forced Islamizations which finally limited the area's Christian population by the 18th century to the town of Himarë and six villages. Additionally the Himariotes were often attacked by the Labs, a nearby Albanian tribe, on the grounds of race and religion. In one occasion, in 1577, the chieftains of Himarë appealed to the Pope
Pope
The Pope is the Bishop of Rome, a position that makes him the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church . In the Catholic Church, the Pope is regarded as the successor of Saint Peter, the Apostle...

 for arms and supplies promising to fight the Ottomans. They also promised to transfer their religious allegiance to Rome, provided that they will retain their Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 liturgical customs since the majority of the population was Greek and didn't understand the Frankish language.

During these years, the people of Himarë established close links to the Italian city states, especially Naples
Naples
Naples is a city in Southern Italy, situated on the country's west coast by the Gulf of Naples. Lying between two notable volcanic regions, Mount Vesuvius and the Phlegraean Fields, it is the capital of the region of Campania and of the province of Naples...

 and the powerful Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice
The Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic was a state originating from the city of Venice in Northeastern Italy. It existed for over a millennium, from the late 7th century until 1797. It was formally known as the Most Serene Republic of Venice and is often referred to as La Serenissima, in...

, and later with Austro-Hungary, which controlled Corfu and the other Ionian Islands. It was at this time (18th century), that many Himariotes emigrated to Italy, while they still maintain their Greek identity.

The first school in the region opened in 1627, where lessons were held in the Greek language. The following years (until 1633) Greek language schools opened also in the villages of Dhërmi and Palasa.

Late Ottoman period



In 1797, Ali Pasha
Ali Pasha
Ali Pasha of Tepelena or of Yannina, surnamed Aslan, "the Lion", or the "Lion of Yannina", Ali Pashë Tepelena was an Ottoman Albanian ruler of the western part of Rumelia, the Ottoman Empire's European territory which was also called Pashalik of Yanina. His court was in Ioannina...

, the Muslim Albanian ruler of the Ottoman Pashalik of Yanina, led a raid on the town of Himarë because they supported his enemy, the Souliotes
Souliotes
Souliotes were a warlike community from the area of Souli, in Greece, who became famous across Greece for their resistance against the local Ottoman Pashalik of Yanina ruled by the Muslim Albanian Ali Pasha...

, and more than 6,000 civilians were slaughtered. Two years later, Ali Pasha tried to create good relations with the Himariotes after declaring their enclave part of his emerging semi-independent state, by financing various public works and churches. A church he built near Himarë, opposite of the Porto Palermo (Panormos) Castle is the largest and most magnificent in the region and still stands today as a major tourist attraction. Ali Pasha's rule over Himarë lasted about 20 years until it was abruptly terminated by his murder at the hands of the Ottoman agents. Himarë subsequently reverted to its status quo ante of an enclave surrounded by Ottoman territory. To emphasize the region's special status, the terms that the Himariotes had reached with Suleiman the Magnificent were inscribed on bronze tablets at the request of their leaders, who wanted to record the agreement on a durable medium. These tablets are preserved to this day in the Topkapi
Topkapi
Topkapi or Topkapı can mean:* The Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey* Topkapı, a neighbourhood of Istanbul near the Roman city walls * Topkapi , a 1964 caper movie...

 palace museum in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

.

When the Greek War of Independence
Greek War of Independence
The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

 (1821–1830) broke out, the people of Himarë rose in revolt. The local uprising failed, but many Himariotes, veterans of the Russian
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 Army, joined the revolutionary forces in today southern Greece, where they played a significant role in the struggle. In 1854, during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, a major local rebellion broke out
Epirus Revolt of 1854
The 1854 revolt in Epirus was one of the most important of a series of Greek uprisings that occurred in the Ottoman-occupied Greek world during that period. When the Crimean War broke out, many Epirote Greeks, with tacit support from the Greek state, revolted against the Ottoman rule...

, with Himarë being one of the first towns that joined it. Although the newly founded Greek state tried tacitly to support it, the rebellion was suppressed by Ottoman forces after a few months.

20th century


During the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

, on November 18, 1912, the town revolted
Himara revolt of 1912
The Himara revolt , was a Greek uprising during the First Balkan War that took place in the region of Himara , on...

 under Spyros Spyromilios
Spyros Spyromilios
Spyros Spyromilios was a Greek Gendarmerie officer who took part in the Greek struggle for Macedonia and the Balkan Wars. He was born in Himara, Ottoman Empire, modern southern Albania, or known as Northern Epirus among Greeks...

 and expelled the Ottoman forces in order to join Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

. In March 1914, the "Protocol of Corfu
Protocol of Corfu
The Protocol of Corfu , signed on May 17, 1914, was an agreement between representatives of the Albanian Government and the Provisional Government of Northern Epirus, which officially recognized the area of Northern Epirus as an autonomous region within the Albanian state...

" was signed, which established the Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus
Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus
The Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was a short-lived, self-governing entity founded on February 28, 1914, in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, by the Greeks living in southern Albania ....

, of which Himarë formed a part, though the Autonomous Republic itself formally remained part of the newly formed Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

n state. However, in the Panepirotic assembly in Delvinë, that aimed at the ratifications of the terms of the Protocol by the Northern Epirote representatives, the delegates of Himarë abstained, insisting that only union with Greece would be a viable solution.

During the First World War, Himarë was under Greek administration (Oct. 1914-Sept. 1916) and then occupied by Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. The Italians used Austro-Hungarian prisoners of war to build a road running through Himarë, which greatly reduced the region's isolation. In 1921 the region came under the control of the Albanian state. The locals rose in revolt, in 1924, protesting against a series of measures aiming at Albanisation
Albanisation
Albanisation is a term used to describe a linguistic or cultural assimilation to the Albanian language and Albanian culture.- In Kosovo :The term is used in reference to Kosovo....

, and demanding the same privileges they enjoyed prior to incorporation to Albania. Other uprisings followed in 1927 and 1932, both suppressed by the government of king Zog of Albania
Zog of Albania
Zog I, Skanderbeg III of the Albanians , born Ahmet Muhtar Bey Zogolli, was King of the Albanians from 1928 to 1939. He was previously Prime Minister of Albania and President of Albania .-Background and early political career:...

.

Later, Himarë was again occupied by the Italians as part of the Italian invasion in Albania. The Italian Fascist Army was evicted by the Greek Army during the Greco-Italian War
Greco-Italian War
The Greco-Italian War was a conflict between Italy and Greece which lasted from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. It marked the beginning of the Balkans Campaign of World War II...

 of 1940-41, and Himarë briefly re-joined Greece until the German invasion in 1941
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

.

Demographics



The population of the Himarë region is 11,257 inhabitants, with the ethnic composition of both the town and region predominantly Greek. This appears to be backed by the high popularity levels of the Greek minority's Unity for Human Rights Party
Unity for Human Rights Party
The Unity for Human Rights Party is a centrist, liberal-inclined party in Albania. Founded in 1992, it represents Albania's minorities and is mainly related to the Greek minority as it is the political continuation of the Democratic Union of the Greek Minority .-Election results:The party usually...

 in the region, while the possibility of victory by the party in the municipal elections in the past triggered nationalist rhetoric, both at the local and even national level, and heightened tension in the town.

Religion


Today, the inhabitants of Himara are Orthodox Christians. In 1577, 38 chieftains of the Himara region appealed to Pope Gregory XIII for arms and supplies against the Ottomans. They promised to switch allegiance from the Orthodox to the Roman Catholic Church, and recognize Philip II of Spain as their sovereign. They asked to retain their Orthodox liturgical customs 'since the majority of the population is Greek and does not understand the Frankish language'. From 1577 to 1765 the population accepted the Pope as the religious head of the community and identified with the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. The success of the Roman Catholic missionaries among the Eastern-rite Albanians in Himarë led to the region becoming a refuge for Orthodox prelates that had converted. Himariotes thus largely adhered to Christian faith, although individual conversions to Islam were recorded from early 16th century. One of them, Ajaz Pasha, became Grand Vizier and was sent by the Ottoman Sultan to put down the 1537 revolt of Himariotes. Even so, crypto-Christianity appeared, particularly in the villages of Fterre, Corraj, and Vuno. Moreover, Basilian missions were sent by Rome since 1682, founding a number of Greek schools.

Language



The vast majority of people in Himarë, who call themselves "Horiani", meaning locals in the local Greek dialect, are bilingual in both Albanian
Albanian language
Albanian is an Indo-European language spoken by approximately 7.6 million people, primarily in Albania and Kosovo but also in other areas of the Balkans in which there is an Albanian population, including western Macedonia, southern Montenegro, southern Serbia and northwestern Greece...

 and Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

, while 85% of the municipality's population use Greek as their mother tongue according to the municipal authorities. In the town of Himarë as well as in nearby villages of Dhërmi and Palasa mainly speak a unique local Greek dialect
Varieties of Modern Greek
The linguistic varieties of Modern Greek can be classified along two principal dimensions. First, there is a long tradition of sociolectal variation between the natural, popular spoken language on the one hand and archaizing, learned written forms on the other. Second, there is regional variation...

 that preserves many archaic features no longer found in standard Modern Greek
Modern Greek
Modern Greek refers to the varieties of the Greek language spoken in the modern era. The beginning of the "modern" period of the language is often symbolically assigned to the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, even though that date marks no clear linguistic boundary and many characteristic...

. This dialect has small variations in the way it is spoken in every town, especially in the accent. On the other hand the surrounding towns of Ilias, Vuno, Qeparo, Kudhes and Pilur mainly speak the Tosk Albanian
Tosk Albanian
Tosk is the southern dialect of the Albanian language. The line of demarcation between Tosk and Gheg is the Shkumbin River. Tosk is the basis of the standard Albanian language.- Tosks :...

 dialect with heavy Greek influence; for example 'thank you' is 'ju haristisem', please is 'ju parkales', and 'village' is 'hora'.

In the spring of 2006, a private Greek-language school opened in the town of Himarë, at the precise location where the Orthodox missionary Cosmas the Aetolian founded the Acroceraunian School
Acroceraunian School
The Acroceraunian School is a Greek elementary school in the town of Himara, southern Albania. It was founded in 1779 by Cosmas the Aetolian and throughout its history has been associated with the Greek culture of the area...

 in 1770.

Minority issues


While the situation of the Greek minority in Albania has improved since the fall of communism, ethnic tensions in Himara remain high. During the 1994 trial of the Omonoia
Omonoia (organization)
Omonoia is a social, political and cultural organization in Albania that promotes minority rights for the Greek minority in the south of the country....

 members, an organization that represents the Greek minority in Albania, three local Greeks were arrested and beaten by the Albanian police after they were found in possession of leaflets calling for the release of the arrested Omonoia leaders. In 2008, a number of protests took place with the locals demanding land ownership and autonomy for the region. The house of former mayor of Himara's, Vasil Bollano, has been the target of a bomb attack twice, in 2004 and again in May 2010.

On August 12, 2010, ethnic tensions soared after ethnic Greek shopkeeper Aristotelis Goumas was killed
Death of Aristotelis Goumas
The death of Aristotelis Goumas took place on August 12, 2010, in Himara, Albania, when the motorcycle of 37-year-old ethnic Greek shopkeeper Aristotelis Goumas was hit by a car driven by three Albanian men from Vlore...

 when his motorcycle was hit by a car driven by three Albanian youths with whom Goumas allegedly had an altercation when they demanded that he not speak Greek to them in his store. Outraged locals blocked the main highway between Vlore
Vlorë
Vlorë is one of the biggest towns and the second largest port city of Albania, after Durrës, with a population of about 94,000 . It is the city where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912...

 and Saranda and demanded reform and increased local Himariote representation in the local police force. The incident was condemned by both the Greek and Albanian governments and three suspects are currently in custody awaiting trial.

The census of 2011 will include ethnicity for the first time, a long standing demand of the Greek minority in Albania and of international organizations, though the details remain to be approved by the Albanian Parliament. However, Greek representatives already found this proccedure unacceptable since according to article 20 of the Census law, there is a $1,000 fine for someone who will declare anything other than what was written down on his birth certificate. In 2005, after years of unanswered demands, President Berisha authorized the opening of a Greek-language school in Himara partially funded by the Greek government. The school now has five teachers and 115 pupils.

Sports


The city of Himarë's soccer club SK Himarë
SK Himarë
SK Himarë are an Albanian football team currently playing in Kategoria e Parë 2011-2012 .- Current squad :-External links:*...

. The club currently plays in the Albanian Second Division
Albanian Second Division
Kategoria e Dytë is the third level of football in Albania. Kategoria e Dytë has two groups, A and B that are divided geographically. Each group has 12 teams.-Group A:*KF Fieri*KF Erzeni Shijak*KF Luzi 2008*KF Naftëtari*KF Olimpik Tirana...

.

Notable Himariotes


  • Dhimitër Anagnosti
    Dhimitër Anagnosti
    Dhimitër Anagnosti is probably the most important Albanian film director of the 20th century. He was a member of the Parliament of Albania in the 1990s and a Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports...

    , People's Artist of Albania
    People's Artist of Albania
    People's Artist of Albania was an honorary title for the decoration of outstanding art performers of People's Socialist Republic of Albania, whose merits were exceptional in the sphere of development of the performing arts . It was created by law in 1960 and amended in 1980. The title was no longer...

    , cineast, and former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports born in Vuno
    Vuno
    Vuno is a village in the Albanian Riviera. It is located in the municipality of Himarë, in the District of Vlorë, Albania, along the road between Himarë and Dhërmi...

    .
  • Christos Bekas, Greek Army
    Hellenic Army
    The Hellenic Army , formed in 1828, is the land force of Greece.The motto of the Hellenic Army is , "Freedom Stems from Valor", from Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War...

     general in the Greek War of Independence
    Greek War of Independence
    The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

     (1821–1830).
  • Panos Bitsilis
    Panos Bitsilis
    Panos Bitzilis was an 18th century General Consul of Russia in Albania and Himara.Bitzilis came from a notable family of Himarë, modern Albania, then Ottoman Empire, that provided several officers to the Regimento Cimarioto of the Venetian army. Additionally, it was also the first clan in Himara...

    , revolutionary.
  • Vasil Bollano, current mayor of Himarë and President of the organization of the Greek minority
    Greek minority in Albania
    About a general view on history, geography, demographics and political issues concerning the region, see Northern Epirus.The Greeks of Albania are ethnic Greeks who live in or originate from areas within modern Albania...

    , "Omonoia
    Omonoia (organization)
    Omonoia is a social, political and cultural organization in Albania that promotes minority rights for the Greek minority in the south of the country....

    ".
  • Spiro Çomora, playwright.
  • Ioanna Dedi, top model.
  • Andreas Dimas, (-1945), leader of the local anti-communist revolt.
  • Pyrros Dimas
    Pyrros Dimas
    TotalTotalPyrros Dimas , born on 13 October 1971) is a retired Greek weightlifter, considered as one of the greatest of all time, having been three times Olympic champion and three times World Champion.- Background :...

    , the world-famous Greek
    Greeks
    The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

     weight-lifting athlete, whose nickname is "the Lion of Himarë". He is the only weight-lifter in the world to have won four Olympic medals. Three of his medals are gold (1992 Summer Olympics
    1992 Summer Olympics
    The 1992 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXV Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event celebrated in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, in 1992. The International Olympic Committee voted in 1986 to separate the Summer and Winter Games, which had been held in the same...

    , 1996 Summer Olympics
    1996 Summer Olympics
    The 1996 Summer Olympics of Atlanta, officially known as the Games of the XXVI Olympiad and unofficially known as the Centennial Olympics, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in 1996 in Atlanta, Georgia, United States....

    , 2000 Summer Olympics
    2000 Summer Olympics
    The Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games or the Millennium Games/Games of the New Millennium, officially known as the Games of the XXVII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event which was celebrated between 15 September and 1 October 2000 in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia...

    ) and the last one, from the Athens 2004 Olympics
    2004 Summer Olympics
    The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...

    , is a bronze.
  • Odhise Grillo, writer.
  • Kostas Kaznezis, Greek Army general in the Greek War of Independence.
  • Spiro Koleka (1908–2001), long-serving member of the Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania
    Politburo of the Party of Labour of Albania
    The Politburo was the leading organ of the Party of Labour of Albania. The following is the composition of the Politburo that would be formed after every Congress of the Party. The politburo for the 1941-1948 period is not included....

    , one of the few members of the Greek minority serving in the Socialist People's Republic of Albania political system.
  • Anastas Kondo, writer
  • Sofokli Lazri, counselor of Enver Hoxha
    Enver Hoxha
    Enver Halil Hoxha was a Marxist–Leninist revolutionary andthe leader of Albania from the end of World War II until his death in 1985, as the First Secretary of the Party of Labour of Albania...

     and writer
  • Petro Marko
    Petro Marko
    Petro Marko was an Albanian writer. His best-known novel is titled Hasta la vista and recounts his experiences as a volunteer of the Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. Petro Marko is widely regarded as one of the founding fathers of modern Albanian prose.- Life :Petro Marko was born...

    , one of the most famous Albanian writers of the post World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

     era.
  • Zachos Milios
    Zachos Milios
    Zachos Milios was a Greek revolutionary of the Greek War of Independence and officer of the Greek army. He was the brother of the distinguished general and politician Spyros Milios.-Greek War of Independence:...

     (1805–1860), Greek Army
    Hellenic Army
    The Hellenic Army , formed in 1828, is the land force of Greece.The motto of the Hellenic Army is , "Freedom Stems from Valor", from Thucydides's History of the Peloponnesian War...

     officer and revolutionary.
  • Paskal Milo
    Paskal Milo
    Paskal Milo is an Albanian historian, politician, and leader of the Social Democracy Party of Albania. He is also been a member of the Albanian Parliament since 1992, and a professor of Albanian and Foreign literature...

     politician
  • Neço Muko
    Neço Muko
    Neço Muko also known as Neço Muko Himarjoti was an Albanian singer and composer. His musical style created a new genre of Albanian polyphonic music called avaz himariot or avaz himariotçe that became identified with the music of his home region Himarë.- Life and Work :Neço Muko was born on October...

    , famous Albanian musician of the 1920s and creator of the avaz himariote music genre that became identified with Himarë.
  • Robert Ndrenika
    Robert Ndrenika
    Robert Ndrenika is an Albanian actor. He was honored with the People's Artist of Albania in 1988.- Filmography:* Kronikë provinciale * Ne dhe Lenini - * Tifozet - komedi* Ishte koha për dashuri -...

    , actor
  • Andon Qesari
    Andon Qesari
    Andon Qesari is an Albanian actor and director. He has made a handful of films as an actor, and is also known for his work in theater...

    , actor and director
  • Sotiris Ninis
    Sotiris Ninis
    Sotiris Ninis is a Greek footballer currently playing for Panathinaikos. Ninis is of Greek descent, and a member of the Greek national team. He was born in Albania to Greek parents...

     football player of Panathinaikos (Athens
    Athens
    Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

    )
  • Athanasios Pipis
    Athanasios Pipis
    Athanasios Pipis was a Greek Orthodox revolutionary commander in the Greek War of Independence .-Life:Pipis was born in the village of Vuno, Himara, Ottoman Empire modern Albania, then Ottoman Empire....

     (-1821), revolutionary of the Greek War of Independence
    Greek War of Independence
    The Greek War of Independence, also known as the Greek Revolution was a successful war of independence waged by the Greek revolutionaries between...

    , from Vuno
    Vuno
    Vuno is a village in the Albanian Riviera. It is located in the municipality of Himarë, in the District of Vlorë, Albania, along the road between Himarë and Dhërmi...

    .
  • Spyromilios (1800–1880), Greek Army general and politician.
  • Spyros Spyromilios
    Spyros Spyromilios
    Spyros Spyromilios was a Greek Gendarmerie officer who took part in the Greek struggle for Macedonia and the Balkan Wars. He was born in Himara, Ottoman Empire, modern southern Albania, or known as Northern Epirus among Greeks...

     (1864–1930), Greek Gendarmerie
    Greek Gendarmerie
    The Hellenic Gendarmerie was the national gendarmerie and military police force of Greece.-19th Century:The Greek Gendarmerie was established after the enthronement of King Otto in 1833 as the Royal Gendarmerie and modeled after the French Gendarmerie. It was at that time formally part of the...

     officer, declared the region's autonomy (1914).
  • Pyrros Spyromilios
    Pyrros Spyromilios
    Pyrros Spyromilios was a Greek Navy officer in World War II and later director of the Greek Radio Orchesta.Spyromilios was born in Himara, southern Albania . He became an officer in the Hellenic Navy and participated in the Greco-Italian War . During his service he was positioned in the Northern...

     (1913–1961), Greek Navy
    Hellenic Navy
    The Hellenic Navy is the naval force of Greece, part of the Greek Armed Forces. The modern Greek navy has its roots in the naval forces of various Aegean Islands, which fought in the Greek War of Independence...

     officer and director of the Greek Radio Orchestra.
  • Andreas Tatos
    Andreas Tatos
    Andreas Tatos is a footballer who hails from the Greek minority of Northern Epirus in South Albania. He currently plays for Atromitos F.C. on loan from Olympiacos. At a very young age after the fall of communism Andreas was able to return to his native country of Greece with his father Miltiadis...

     (1989-), football player of Atromitos
    Atromitos
    Atromitos FC is a football club based in Peristeri, Athens that plays in the Super League Greece.-History:Atromitos FC was officially founded in May 1923 when Kalomvounis, Petos, Glykofridis, Stathopoulos, Synodinos, Rigopoulos, Stamatopoulos, and other students living in Victoria Square decided...

     (Greek Superleague).


See also

  • Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus
    Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus
    The Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus was a short-lived, self-governing entity founded on February 28, 1914, in the aftermath of the Balkan Wars, by the Greeks living in southern Albania ....

  • Ceraunian Mountains
    Ceraunian Mountains
    The Ceraunian Mountains is a coastal mountain range in southwestern Albania. The name is derived from Ancient Greek Κεραύνια ὄρη, meaning "thunder-split peaks"....

  • Chaonians
    Chaonians
    The Chaonians were an ancient Greek tribe that inhabited the region of Epirus located in the north-west of modern Greece and southern Albania. On their southern frontier lay another Epirote kingdom, that of the Molossians, to their southwest stood the kingdom of the Thesprotians, and to their...

  • Epirus
    Epirus
    The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

  • Greeks in Albania
  • Himariote Greek dialect
    Himariote Greek dialect
    The Himariote Greek dialect is a dialect of the Greek language that is mainly spoken by ethnic Greeks in the Himarë region of Albania. Despite the small distances between the towns in the region, there exists some dialectal variation, most prominently in accent.-Classification:Despite the fact...

  • Himara (town)
  • List of cities in ancient Epirus
  • Northern Epirus
    Northern Epirus
    Northern Epirus is a term used to refer to those parts of the historical region of Epirus, in the western Balkans, that are part of the modern Albania. The term is used mostly by Greeks and is associated with the existence of a substantial ethnic Greek population in the region...

  • Tourism in Albania
    Tourism in Albania
    Tourism in Albania is characterized by the archaeological heritage inherited from Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, unspoiled beaches, challenging mountain ranges, Cold War artifacts, unique traditions, unequivocal hospitality, delicious traditional cuisine, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of...


External links