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Qeparo

Qeparo is a seaside village on the Albanian Riviera in Himarë municipality, District of Vlorë, Albania. It is divided in two parts - the old and new villages.


Name

According to 19th century topographer William Martin Leake, the original name of the village was Kiepero or Kiparos, which derives from the Greek word kipos, meaning garden.

History

In antiquity, the area of Qeparo, like the rest of the Himara region, was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians.

The village has an Orthodox Church dedicated to Saint Demetrius, dated 1760, one of the nine churches in Albania dedicated to that saint. A project for the establishment of a Greek school in the village was initiated by the Greek national benefactors Evangelos and Konstantinos Zappas in 1860. In the 1898-1899 school season three Greek schools were operating in Qeparo: elementary, secondary and a girls' school with a total of 100 students.

During the period of the Balkan Wars, the inhabitants of Greek-speaking villages in the region, such as Qeparo, fought against Albanian speaking-villages, who fought on the side of the Ottoman Empire. At November 5, 1912, when the nearby town of Himara was controlled by the Greek forces of the local major Spyros Spyromilios, armed groups from Qeparo declared that they were prepared to assist his movement for the incorporation of the rest of the region into Greece.

Geography

Qeparo is situated on the western slope of Mount Gjivlash, at about 450 metres (1,480 ft) above sea level. In ancient times, Qeparo was situated in the hill of Kasteli. Later on, its inhabitants settled a little further down, in the Gjivlash Slope, southeast of the hill of Kasteli, to be closer to their fields and to escape the cold of the winter. From 1957 onwards, Qeparo was split into the Old Village (Albanian: Fshati i vjetër, Greek: Άνω or Παλαιό Κηπαρό), and the New Village (Albanian: Fshati i ri, Greek: Κάτω or Νέο Κηπαρό).

To the east, Qeparo is bounded by the village of Borsh, to the northeast by Çorraj, to the north with Kudhës, to the northwest by Piluri, to the west with the town of Himara and to the south and southwest by the Ionian sea. The Porto Palermo Castle, built by Ali Pasha to guard against the Himariotes is part of the territory of Qeparo.

The village is composed of the following neighbourhoods or brotherhoods (Albanian: vëllazëri): Ballëguras, Bragjint' e Poshçërë, Bragjint' e Sipërmë, Dhimëgjonas, Gjikëbitaj, Mërtokaj, Ndregjin, Peçolat, Pogdan and Rushat. Every brotherhood had its own patron saint.

Qeparo has cultivated olives for centuries, as mentioned in early 19th century in the work of François Pouqueville, Napoleon Bonaparte's general consul at the court of Ali Pasha in Ioannina.: testimony to this, are some centennial olive trees still existing in the village.

Language

The village is inhabited by both ethnic Albanians and Greeks. Today the inhabitants of Qeparo are bilingual in Greek and Albanian, although in the day-to-day language, mainly Albanian is used, with the exeption of Old Qeparo, where Greek speech is dominant. The Albanian local dialects, are part of southern Tosk, and more precisely, of the Labërisht sub-group. Labërisht itself is composed of non-unical language groups.

Tourism

Qeparo is one of the favorite tourist destinations in Albania. Two hotels and a few guesthouses serve the tourists' enjoyment of the small beaches.


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