parga's history in brief  

During Pargas long history it has been ruled by the Venetians, Turks, French, Russian and English.
In ancient times Parga was known as Torini and was thought to have originally been built in the mountains east of the modern town.  The move to the coast was made to avoid invasion by the Albanians and to exploit the more fertile land found near the coast, although local legend says that a prize icon of the Virgin Mary, treasured by the local people, disappeared from the town and was found by a shepherd on the rock where Parga's Venetian Fortress now stands.  This was taken as a sign from god that Parga should move.

The Venetians, then rulers of the Ionian Islands claimed Parga and held it until 1797 (although during this period it fell into Turkish hands three times) until the French, under Napoleon claimed control.  Following the French defeat at Trafalgar, Parga was handed over to the British in 1815 and it was about this time that Ali Pasha, the part Albanian and part Turkish tyrant started showing particular interest in Parga.

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Ali Pasha was renowned in the area for his ambition in wanting to control the whole of Northern Greece and preferably without being governed by Sultan Mahmud ll of Turkey.  Despite many attempts to capture Parga and even building his own fortress high above Parga, at Anthousa, to intimidate the town folk the Pargians never gave in.  Unfortunately after all the attempts to keep Ali Pasha at bay the British finally sold Parga to him in 1817.  Under the terms of this treaty he agreed not to take control of the Ionian islands.  This included Corfu where many Pargians fled to exile taking their sacred icons and ashes of their ancestors.

During this time Ali Pasha had fallen from favour with the Turkish Sultan and by 1820 was ordered to return to Istanbul to explain the reason for such tyranny.  He refused and with only a few loyal bodyguards left to protect him the sultans men finally trapped and killed him at his house on the Island of Nissi in Ioannina.

Parga was eventually liberated in the Balkan War, however, the Turks remained here until 1924 when they became part of the population exchange between Greece and Turkey.  Finally in 1930 the original icons that the townspeople fled with were returned to Parga from Corfu.  This final chapter of a turbulent history is celebrated on the 15th August each year along with the name day of the Virgin Mary. If you are lucky enough to be in Parga at this time, you will be part of the beautiful celebrations and the busiest day in Parga's annual calander.

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