Metsovo (Greek: Μέτσοβο) is a town in Epirus on the mountains of Pindus in northern Greece, between Ioannina to the north and Meteora to the south. The largest centre of Vlach life in Greece, Metsovo is bypassed by GR-6 (Ioannina - Trikala) and also by Egnatia Odos Motorway.
In 15th century Metsovo came under the Ottoman rule and became part of the Sanjak of Ioannina.
Throughout the late period of Ottoman rule (18th century-1913) the Greek and Aromanian population of the region (northern pindus) suffered from Albanian raiders.
Also, in one occasion in the local Greek revolt of 1854 the town was plundered Ottoman troops, and the men of Theodoros Grivas, former general of the Greek military, during their struggle for control of the town.
During the First Balkan War, Metsovo was burnt by bands.
During the Second World War Metsovo was the capital of a puppet state, established by the Axis forces, known as the Principality of the Pindus.
Starting in the mid-17th century, the residents in the region of Metsovo were relieved from the obligation to pay the regular and ad hoc taxes that were usually paid by Christian residents in other regions, on the condition that they would pay a lump sum per year. The Ottoman administration often applied such arrangements for groups of its subjects that offered a special service to the state.
The special service provided by the Metsovo residents was the guarding of the local mountain passages and the servicing of travelers. This special tax regime did not constitute any form of land, political or taxation self-government. The notion of autonomy was unknown to the Ottoman understanding of polity.
In theory, the sultan was the undisputed owner of all land in Metsovo and had the right to dispose of it as he wished. That is why the firmans issued at times were only temporarily applicable and defined the area as the property of Ottoman officials, to whom the Sultan granted tenure rights. In practice, however, the granting of tax exemptions was equivalent to self-governance of the area.
The reduction of taxes left a higher surplus product of the local crop production and, regardless of the theoretical framework that governed the land ownership and political regime of the Ottoman Empire, the lands of Metsovo were gradually falling under the absolute possession, ownership and management of its residents, which corresponds to political self-governance. This development had a disproportionate cost. Every year, the corresponding taxes and other contributions had to be timely pre-paid to the Ottoman landlord of the area, otherwise the mukata’a of Metsovo could fall under the dominion of powerful neighboring Ottoman regions.
The town is famous for its local cheeses (Metsovone and Metsovela) and winemaking industries, including the Katogi vineyard of the Averoff family. A museum named Averoff Gallery is dedicated to Georgios Averoff. Metsovo is also a popular winter vacation destination and a ski resort.
The Metsovo Ski Centre is situated not far from the centre of Metsovo. In the 1980s, a tunnel was under construction and was the longest in Greece. It alleviated traffic and does not use twisting roads. In 2006, the connection with Via Egnatia has made the section of GR-6 (Ioannina - Trikala) into this superhighway and had two interchanges for Metsovo.
Metsovo is the home of the benefactors Nikolaos Stournaris, Eleni Tositsa, Michail Tositsas and Georgios Averoff, in whose honour the National Technical University of Athens is called Metsovion in Greek. Another notable individual from Metsovo is the former minister and former leader of the New Democracy party Evangelos Averoff.
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