Vonitsa

 

 

 VONITSA

Vonitsa is a pretty seaside town at the entrance to the Amvrakikos gulf in western Greece (in the Prefecture of Aitoloalkarnania).

The town stands on the site of the ancient city of Anactorion, a colony founded by Corinth in 630 BC. Strabo describes the city as powerful and populous. Remains of its acropolis, its naval docks and its cemetery have survived.

Some part of Anactorion sank beneath the sea, and can be seen near Vonitsa. There are buildings both on the seashore and beneath the blue waters of the gulf. Fortifications and walls can be made out, together with a breakwater and wharves, a basilica and other structures spanning the time from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine periods.

Vonitsa last appears in history in the late 4th century AD. When Alaric’s Visigoths destroyed Anactorion. Such of the city’s inhabitants as survived built Vonitsa on the site on which we see it today.

The town flourished in the 11th and 12th centuries, when it was the seat of a bishop. After the 4th Crusade of 1204 it was incorporated into the Despotate of Epirus, soon entering upon the stage of greatest prosperity and development in its long and tumultuous history.

But in 1362 it passed into the hand of Albanian princes, the Tokki family and its troubles began again. In this respect, Vonitsa shared the fate of all the western provinces of Byzantine Empire.

In 1472 the town fell to the Turks, who held it until 1684.

The period of Venetian occupation, which began in that year, lasted until 1797, when there was a brief spell of French rule.

In 1798 Vonitsa was taken by All Pasha of Ioannina, being liberated in 1828 and officially becoming part of the Greek State on April 1832.

What strikes one about Vonitsa is the song of the waters, which can be heard gushing free everywhere. The water of Vonitsa is a source of life – and this perhaps, is why the name of the town is also found as Voditsa, indicating a derivation from the Slavic word "voda", meaning water.

Today Vonitsa is the capital of Anaktorio district and it has 4.000 inhabitants.

The local economy is based on agriculture (tobacco, cotton, olives and corn growing, cattle and sheep breeding) and fishing industry (shrimps and sardines). At the moment tourism, especially eco-tourism is developing.

Here there are rocky and sandy beaches, densely wooded mountain peaks, verdant plains, sparkling white villages, lakes, rivers - and kind, hospitable, gentle people.

An English traveller once wrote of the Gulf that anyone who visited it could count himself blessed by good fortune…