Agrafa is a mountainous region in Evrytania
Evrytania is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Greece. Its capital is Karpenisi .-Geography:...

 and Karditsa
Karditsa Prefecture
Karditsa is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Thessaly. Its name is derived from its capital Karditsa, a small city of approximately 35,000 people.-Geography:...

 prefectures in mainland Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, consisting mainly of small villages. It is the southernmost part of the Pindus
The Pindus mountain range is located in northern Greece and southern Albania. It is roughly 160 km long, with a maximum elevation of 2637 m . Because it runs along the border of Thessaly and Epirus, the Pindus range is often called the "spine of Greece"...

 range. There is also a municipality with the same name, the Municipality of Agrafa
Agrafa (Municipality)
Agrafa is a village and a municipality in Evrytania, Central Greece. Its administrative center is the village Kerasochori. It is named after the wide mountainous region of Agrafa, of which it occupies only the SW part....

, but it covers only a small percentage of the area.


The Agrafa region is famous for its complete autonomy throughout the entire 400 years of Ottoman Turkish
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...

 occupation of Greece. The word agrafa literally translates to "unwritten" or uncharted; because the Turks were unable to conquer this region, the area and its population were not recorded in the Sultan's
Sultan is a title with several historical meanings. Originally, it was an Arabic language abstract noun meaning "strength", "authority", "rulership", and "dictatorship", derived from the masdar سلطة , meaning "authority" or "power". Later, it came to be used as the title of certain rulers who...

 tax register. As a result the people were usually free to conduct their business and customs as they pleased without Ottoman influence.

Agrafa has been populated for approximately 2,500 years. The fiercely independent spirit of its people, known as Agrafiotes, is matched by a harsh and forbidding landscape. The central Agrafiotis River
The Agrafiotis River is a river/stream that flows entirely in the Evrytania prefecture in Greece. The river owes its name to Agrafa, the mountainous region where it flows. The river begins in the North of the prefecture and passes into a valley filled with only traces of farmlands, beautiful pine...

 valley is surrounded on three sides by a steep 2,000-metre wall of mountains, and on its south side the river drains via a series of narrow and often impassable gorges into the man-made Lake Kremasta
Kremasta (lake)
Lake Kremasta is the largest artificial lake in Greece. The construction of the dam of Kremasta was completed in 1969 concentrating waters from four rivers: Acheloos, Agrafiotis, Tavropos and Trikeriotis. The water that is accumulated in the artificial lake is about 4,700,000,000 m³...

. The other great river of Agrafa, Tavropos (aka Megdovas), feeds two man-made lakes: Plastiras
Plastiras Dam
The Plastiras Dam is a concrete arch dam in Karditsa Prefecture, Greece that blocks Tavropos River flow, effectively creating an artificial lake respectively called the Lake Plastiras.-Name:...

 (N) and Kremasta (S).

Most of the surrounding forests in the region were controlled by Greek 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,...

Monastery denotes the building, or complex of buildings, that houses a room reserved for prayer as well as the domestic quarters and workplace of monastics, whether monks or nuns, and whether living in community or alone .Monasteries may vary greatly in size – a small dwelling accommodating only...

 for many hundreds of years and throughout the Ottoman Turkish
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...

 occupation of the Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

. The residents of the Agrafa purchased tracts of land from the monasteries hundreds of years ago and these forests remain in the communal hands of the current inhabitants.

Agrafa was a centre of literacy during the 400 years of domination and slavery by the Turks. Since the monasteries were independent from the Sultan, it is alleged that within the Krifo Scholio
Krifo scholio
In Greek history, the term Krifó scholió refers to supposedly illegal underground schools for teaching the Greek language and Christian doctrines, provided by the Greek Orthodox Church under Ottoman rule in Greece between the 15th and 19th centuries...

 here the Greek language
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;...

 was kept alive; according to popular legend, reading and writing were taught in secrecy, generation after generation as the Turks forbade the general population from learning how to read and write their own language. Unlike the majority of Greeks, many Agrafiotes can trace their family histories back for generations since they were free to read, write, and record births, baptisms, and deaths.

In the 20th century, a lot of Agrafiotes left their villages and settled in the major metropolitan cities in Greece as well as in the United States, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

, seeking an escape from the abject poverty and lack of opportunities which once haunted the area. The migration from the region first began in the 1920s and has nearly ceased after the military junta
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

 which had ruled Greece from 1967–1974 was toppled.


Before modernization, most people's occupations in the Agrafa involved harvesting nuts and fruits from orchards, farming, shepherding, and textile manufacturing. Most of the produce from the Agrafa are traditional cold weather crops or crops which can survive in poor soil. The beans grown in the Agrafa are second to none for flavor and quality. The proceeds of the timber sales from the forests purchased from the Greek Orthodox monasteries continue to benefit the community as a whole.

The most famous person from the Agrafa and the driving force behind modernization was the colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 Nikolaos Plastiras
Nikolaos Plastiras
Nikolaos Plastiras was a Greek general and politician, who served thrice as Prime Minister of Greece. A distinguished soldier and known for his personal bravery, he was known as "O Mavros Kavalaris" during the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1922...

, who was elected prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 of Greece after the Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

. It was his vision to create a hydroelectric dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

 in the region so that nearly all of mainland Greece, excluding the Peloponese, would be supplied with electricity, particularly the many fractured villages and rural communities. A spin-off from this project was the mass irrigation system developed to supply the farmers in the plains of Thessaly with water and increase the yields of cash crops such as cotton, and also the creation of Lake Plastira which has met increasing tourist development in the last decades.

Construction began during the 1950s. Once completed the Plastiras Dam
Plastiras Dam
The Plastiras Dam is a concrete arch dam in Karditsa Prefecture, Greece that blocks Tavropos River flow, effectively creating an artificial lake respectively called the Lake Plastiras.-Name:...

 propelled the Greek nation into the modern era. The majority of the workers on this project were Agrafiotes themselves. As a result of their years of dedication and sacrifice to the project, the residents of the region enjoy free water up until this day. The Agrafa, originally one of the poorest and
most isolated regions of Greece, is quickly becoming a hot tourist destination, as the area's beauty is reminiscent of the Alps
The Alps is one of the great mountain range systems of Europe, stretching from Austria and Slovenia in the east through Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Germany to France in the west....

 of Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

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