Argyro Pigadi is a mountain village in the Municipality of Thermo, in the Regional Unit of Aetolia and Akarnania in the Region of Western Greece.
Argyro Pigadi is built at an altitude of 1.000 meters on the southeastern slope of Triantafyllia. Triantafyllia is the highest peak, 1.817m, of the eastern Panaitoliko, which belongs to the mountain range of Pindos.
Center for Environmental Awareness and Promotion of the Cultural Heritage of Mountain Communities
In August 2017, the old Primary School of the village, which stopped functioning in 1994 due to a lack of students, started its new course as a Center for Environmental Awareness and Promotion of the Cultural Heritage of Mountain Communities.
In its new form and function, our Primary School aspires to maintain its educational role by highlighting the cultural heritage of our mountain communities and contributing to the formation of citizens who are well-informed and sensitive to the value of Nature and its relation to Culture.
This project, which the Municipality of Thermo undertook and thanks to the active contribution of the Association of Argyropigadites (people coming from Argyro Pigadi), was included in the Rural Development Program of Greece 2007-2013 and was primarily financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The interior of the center
A book based on the Center’s material and titled
“Argyro Pigadi of Mountain Trichonida: History-Environment-Culture”
was published in 2020 by the Association of Argyropigadites.
the book: “Argyro Pigadi”
Contributed with their testimony...
The work was accomplished under the impression that the most profound truth about the life of these mountain communities is best expressed by the same people who lived there.
That’s why the whole project was based on the oral testimonies that residents of the village or those who came from it willingly contributed, proving in this way their love for their home place.
So, let’s talk about the mountain villages. And let’s do it in the Municipality of Thermo, which is characterized as mountainous and by its most mountain village.
Let’s listen to the people of the mountain village talking about their lives and relationship with Nature, keeping in mind that Nature is the home that hosts us all.
They mention how they managed the limited natural resources available to them with hard work and wisdom so that they and their children could live. They practiced what we call sustainable management, not forgetting that natural resources are always limited, not only at a village level but also at a country level and a level of the entire planet.
We can hear them talking about how they managed to live being self-sufficient, which means only with what they produced themselves, without being obliged to anyone else. And, of course, they lived frugally, poor but dignified and proud.
We learn the principles and values governing their lives: diligence, frugality, collectivity, and solidarity.
We will see how they organized their lives at the Family level but also the Community level, how the Community functioned with democratic procedures, rules, and control, and how they resolved their differences within the village, but also with the neighboring communities.
Our mountain villages have been alive for thousands of years. Their inhabitants, hooked on the slopes of the mountains, in objectively poor places, with limited natural resources, organized their lives and communities and created their own culture.
In the decades after the Second World War and the Greek civil war, the population of the mountain villages decreased rapidly, the schools closed, and the villages themselves changed.
Let’s observe this change in Argyro Pigadi through the following two photos.
The first one is from the book “Thermos and Apokouro” by Dimitris Loukopoulos, a folklorist who made his trip to the area’s villages in 1941-1942.
In the first photo, we see the church of Saint Demetrius with the bell tower and the cemetery on the left and in front. On the right, we can see a part of the large earthen cistern, a water tank for irrigation, the “gourna,” as we called it.
The photo caption is: “Gertovos – Argyro Pigadi. The church and the square”.
The title proved prophetic.
“Gertovos - Argyro Pigadi. The church and the square” 1940
Argyro Pigadi 2000
After a few decades, the same place has the form of the second photo. It is not the marble that replaced the humble wooden crosses in the cemetery that makes the difference.
The main difference lies in the fact that the large earthen cistern is gone, and in its place today, we find a square with a complex of a café and a guesthouse.
Removing the cistern from the center to the edge of the village to free the area of the center to build the square marks a change in values and priorities, a change in the village itself.
The once mountain, productive village quickly turns into a second home settlement. Its productive activity is shrinking without nevertheless being eliminated.
Almost all the mountain villages of our country follow a similar course.
But their long history has a lot to teach us. We believe that preserving the experience of centuries, which consists in harmonizing human life with the natural environment, is not only a tribute to the labor of the people who lived for centuries in our mountain villages but also has an economic, scientific, and educational dimension.
It is a contribution to the concern over the proper management of natural resources nowadays at a local, national, and global level.
It is a valuable cultural heritage that deserves to be known. It deserves to be a life guide for us and our children.