Dhermi

The village of Drimadhes, one of the seven villages of the Himara region, is the second village a traveler will see once past the pass of Llogara and its national park. Located at the foot of Acroceraunian mountains, (which the Roman poet Horace calls as "infames scopulos Acroceraunia"), overseeing quite a long beach and a marvelous Ionian sea and amidst the green olives grooves and citrus plantations, the village possesses a magnificent beauty. The English landscape painter Edward Lear describes it as "more magnificent in his location than any other village I have seen in Acroceraunia and resemble no little Atrani and Amalfi (in Italy)".
Drimadhes is located in middle of a 5 kilometers long beach that begins in the peninsula of Karaburuni and ends in the hills, above which stands the monastery of Saint Theodore. The village itself is composed of three quarters: Kondraqi - the first to be encountered by those arriving from Vlora, Gjilek - the second and the third quarter is Dhermi, after which the whole village is named. It's estimated that the village has some 600 houses, of which 300 are in Drimadhes , 150 in Gjilek and the rest in Kondraq. The village is located 52 km from Vlora, 72 km north of Saranda and 210 km from the capital Tirana. Administratively is included in the municipality of Himara, region of Himara, district of Vlora.

Name: As Himara (or Chimara) etymology is claimed to be from the Greek “Ravine“ or even "Chimera”; the explanation of the name Dhermi is pretended to be the Greek term – “dhrimadhes" meaning “oak tree” - based in the local natural vegetation. A second hypothesis is again from a Greek term “dhromos”- road justified by the location of the village near the road.

History: The foundation of the village is lost in the history. Himara, where Dhermi is included, has been inhabited by the Epirote tribe of Chaonians. Philip of Macedonia (father of Alexander the Great) attacked Himara in 214 BC. In 167 B.C., it was a Roman naval base. Julius Caesar was the first great leader that set his foot in the beach near Drimadhes in his battle against Pompeus and it is said that while he is sailing close to these dangerous Acroceraunian shores pronounce the famous sentences to his sailors "Don't fear as you are carrying the Caesar and his luck". For a certain period, Himara was under the Bulgarian rule (904 AD). One relative of Gjin Bua Shpata (Lord of Arta about 1370 AD) came and was established in Dhermi. After the murder of Balsha II (a famous Medieval Albanian landlord) in 1385, his wife "a true amazon” ruled upon Himara till 1392. Those were times of wars with Saracens, evidence of which are the Pirate's Cave and the place named as Al-Evra.
The famous Norman Guiskard and his son Boemund attempted to subdue the place, recognizing the strategic location upon the Otranto channel. Gjon Kastrioti, the son of Scanderbeg – Albanian National Hero, landed in Himara in 1481 to organize an uprising against the Turks, after the death of his father, which proved unsuccessful. As result of Turkish occupation, many Himariotes left Albania and founded some villages in Southern Italy. Himara, unlike most of the country was never conquered completely by the Turkish. Together with Mirdita, both regions enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy. According to the status signed by Sultan Bajazite II in 1492, Himara and its villages, should pay to the Sublime Port the sum of 16,000 francs per year. However, the region was governed by the local demogeronds. Sulejman the Magnificent (or the LawGiver) tried to submit Himara, but in vain (one Himariote called Damian, succeed to enter in his tent in an attempt to kill him). Himara (at that time composed of more than 50 villages) was the center of several uprisings such those in 1481, 1488, 1494-1509, 1537, 1571, 1595, 1690 1713. Ali Pasha of Yanina was the only Turkish (or Albanian as he was Albanian by the origin) ruler successful of occupying Himara (1797) and her villages. The story tells that he ordered to put the fire on the forest upon the village of Drimadhes. According to the history of Albania, the Suliotes, that were the major contributors for the Greek Independence, were migrated Himariotes. At that time, Lord Byron wrote the famous verses:

Shall the sons of Chimari who never forgive
the fault of a friend, bid an enemy life?
Let those guns so unerring such vengeance forgo?
What’s mark is so fair as the breast of a foe?


After the Albanian Independence, Himara was included in the new state, although in March 1914 the region was declared autonomous. In 1927 it was signed the Protocol of Himara between the region and the Albanian state that recognized the privileges of the region. 1930 marks the end of Greek language teaching in Himara. During the First World War, the Italians using the Austro-Hungarian POW build the road that connects Vlora and the region that give a big boost to the economic development of the Riviera. During the Italian-Greek war in 1940 Drimadhes was the most advance post of Greeks and his inhabitants had to be removed in Vlora, Durresi up to Shkodra. The village took part in the National Liberation war and many of the inhabitants took part in the Riviera Fighting unit and in the XII-th Brigade.

Social - Economic Development: Edward Lear that visited practically the major part of Albania in 1848, wrote for the region that "the civilization of this part of Albania seems indeed beyond what I have seen“. In early XX century, the village of Dhermi has two doctors, graduated in Vienna and in Athens. The first school was opened in 1630 and served as center of education for all the nearby inhabitants. Before the second World War, emigration and agriculture (olive and agrumes growing) as well as trade, were the major activities. The grapefruit, most of it produced for the Jew Communities, was the special trade commodity, together with the olive oil and agrumes. In that period, Drimadhes has about 64 trucks, an indication of its wealth. Emigration, especially in Greece, US, Australia, France was another source of income for the family and at the same time, a source of tragedies and disillusions. Petro Marko, a famous Albanian writer describes as follows this social wound:

“It's said that the big stones below are the men that had returned back and had died here. While the men that had left and died abroad are transformed in clouds. They come, shed tears and leave. And the big stones, near the shore, collect their tears as the rain is collected”.

During socialism, (Drimadhes joined the cooperative system only in 1957) - agriculture was the sole-income producing activity. Substantial migration toward the great cities of the country occurred at this time - Vlora, Durresi, Tirana, Berati being the most preferred. Drimadhiotes were famous in those days as good drivers and truck repairmen. A major part of the new generation were well educated in the universities and high schools. After 1990, the majority of the population migrated in Greece, taking advantage of the Greek language. At the same time, migration happened for US, Canada and other West-European countries. Only the olive growing and olive oil extraction remained profitable activities. On the other hand, tourism began to be an important profitable activity, although the great potential available was not fully exploited. The former Worker's Rest House privatized in different parts, served as catalyst for the construction of many other buildings for the increasing requests from all the country and abroad. The riots of 1997 and 1998 had their negative impact, but now tourism is constantly picking up.

Language: Like in two other villages in the region (Himara and Palasa), the daily language for the Drimadhiotes is a vulgar form of Greek. Albanian comes second. A hypothesis for this is that Himariotes are a Greek minority. Another hypothesis is that the Greek was adopted as working language during Turkish attempts to occupy the place and the Himariotes were forced to flee in the neighboring Greek islands as well as during the trade with them, especially Corfu. An interesting fact in supporting this second hypothesis is that the songs and especially mourning are held in the Albanian language.

Agriculture: The wealth of agriculture depends mainly on the olive tree - it's estimated that there are more than 47,000 trees. The cultivar Caliniot, most valuable for olive extraction than for table olives, dominates - above 92% of the trees. The maximum production achieved is 1,500 MT and the olive oil production is 300 MT/year. Citrus (oranges and lemons), figs, grapes, nespolla (Chinese plum) are the most important other trees, not to forget the natural vegetation such as prickly pear (called French or India figs by the villagers in Latin Opuntia).

Religion: The inhabitants of the region are converted Christians since early times. It's reported that Himara had his own Bishop in the IX century. All the autochthonous inhabitants are Greek Orthodox Christians. Religion practices were observed even in the atheistic times of 1967-1990. An interesting fact here is that Drimadhes has numerous churches, about 35, one in about 20 families. There are three major monasteries - that of Saint Theodorus located in the hill outside the village, of the Virgin Mary in the top of the hill of Drimadhes, and the monastery of Stavridhi. There are two big churches, both located in the village that of Saint Harallambi and that of Saint Spiridhon refurbished in 1967. However, the major part of the churches of the villages are small, build mostly by the emigrants returning from abroad in the country. The churches of Saint Stephens and that of Saint Dhimitri, according to the text of History of Albania contain some of the oldest afrescas of Albania (XII century). Reports of the XVII century give evidence of the efforts of the Catholic Church, through the Basilian order, to convert the Himariotes and especially the Drimadhiotes. Before the Second World War, the village had had eight priests. The most celebrated religious events are the Assumption Day (August 15), Christmas (December 25), Orthodox Easter and Blessed Water Day. While the Kanun of Leke Dukagjini was famous as the local governing Code in Northern Albania, Himara abided to a special variant of Code called as the Kanuni i Papa Zhulit. (Priest Jule’s Code).

Famous Dhermiotes: Captain Kumiu is the first Drimadhiotes to become important military leader in the court of the King of Naples. Dhimiter Leka was a famous general in the same court about 1820. (the Arberesh poet De Rada dedicated to him the famous poem Milosao - one of the beautiful romantic of Albanian renaissance). Pano Bixhili is another famous, who served for many years as envoyee of Himariotes to the Czar of Russia. Through Gjike Bixhili, he helped the opening of the Albanian school in his village. Petro Marko is certainly one of the most successful and productive writers of the post WWII period, born and buried in Drimadhes. He is recognized as such even by prestigious publications like the as the French “Petit Larousse”. Prominent sportists such as Strakosha, the goalkeeper of National Albanian Soccer team, and Andrea Marko, the famous player of Dinamo in '80, and other famous local players as the brothers Ruci (in the team of Flamurtari, Vlora), Bifsha, Iliadhi, Vasil Ziu are native of Drimadhes.

Tourist attractions: Drimadhes is a location where the attraction from the deep, clean, blue Ionian sea is combined with the clear and healthy air of the mountains. Protected in the North from the winds by the peninsula of Karaburuni, the village is quite attractive even during winter times, not to mention during summer. Cited as one of the pearls of the Albanian Riviera, it is certainly one of the most attractive locations in Albania, reported as such in all tourist- and guide-books of Albania.
The village presents a particularly beauty with its characteristic Southern architecture amidst the traditional Mediterranean greenness. The well educated, polyglots and hospitable inhabitants enhance the values of their village. The big churches of the village, as the Monastery of the Virgin, located in the top of the hill of Drimadhes, and that of the Saint Theodore in the top of the hill facing the sea as well as the churches of Saint Harallamb and Saint Spiridhon are interesting religious building, worth of visiting. The mass is usually held Sundays and the location of the ceremony is not same. Alevra is an unusual place to visit and admired for the unusual deep blue water with the rock going almost vertically into the sea. A small, very attractive harbor with the rocky beach above which stands the hill with the monastery of Saint Theodhorus on top, Alevra is a must for the visitors.
The Pirate's cave is an interesting natural cave made famous by the book written by Petro Marko and the movie of the same title. It can be reached both from the sea and the land. The sea view is unique and very particular. Located in perpendicular rocks, in very deep waters it is one of most valuable tourist attraction, that brings you back in the Medieval history of Albania.
The harbor of Gjipe is located in South of the Pirate's cave and has a clean and fine sand. Once visited by tourists searching some privacy, these days it is frequented by all vacationers and represents one of the most virgin beaches of Albania. It can be reached by the sea as well by the land.
Gramata harbor located about 30 minutes by boat on North od Drimadhes is a must for the cultural tourists, as it represent a real treasured outdoor museum in very unusaul and beautiful harbor.
In Dhermi are offered water games, diving techniques and scuba-diving lessons.
Aquasport (Xhemal Mato):
xhmato@icc.al.eu.org, Τel.: +355 4364100

Albanian National Aeronautics Association (Paragliding from Llogara):
aeronautica@icc.al.eu.org, Τel.: +355 4367071

HOTELS
Hotel Restorant Dhermiu: +355 682037699
Hotel Restorant Milton: +355 946979228
F. Dhima (Dhoma) (Click here for more info ...)
Hotel Restaurant 2000: +355 682374919
Hotel KOCANI: +355 4234340
Hotel JANI: +355 692263961
Hotel Thoma Jorgji: +355 692163168
Hotel Ilia Stamarko: +355 692065335
Hotel Niko Stramarko: +355 692735095
Hotel Dhrimadhes: +355 692074000
Hotel Marko: +355 692411905 - 682375253
Hotel Dorian: +355 692372580 - 692537337

RESTORANTS, COFFEE-BARS
Restorant Bar “Dhermiu”: +355 682037699
Restorant “CLUB 2000”
Restorant-Bar “LUCIANO”
Bar Vathi: 9776722892

SHOPS
Marko Gjikopulli: +355 692318043

Elder of the village Dhermi: Ilia Stamarko
Mayor of Himara: Vasilis Bolanos

K. Jorgji
dhermijorgji@yahoo.com