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The house of Captain Kottas

One of the most important parts of the Greek history is that of the Macedonian struggle, an armed conflict among Bulgarians, Greeks, Serbs and Turks, and even Romanians which broke out at the beginning of the 20th century, lasted almost four years (1904-1908) and took place in Macedonia. The conflict initially broke out in the Kastoria region (in the late 19th century) and by the end of it, it had spilled over the whole region of today's Macedonia up to the regions of Monastirion, Gevgeli, Doirani, etc. Each rival aimed at intimidating or eliminating the adversary and associating the adversary's population to the Bulgarian Exarchate or the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Bulgarian or Greek consciousness, respectively. This action evolved rapidly into a mutual extermination of the adversary armed forces.
A prominent figure (and the first fighter of this struggle) was Captain Kottas, a brave, revolutionary, idealist man and above all, a person who loved his country and his fellow countrymen.
Constantinos Christou was born in 1860 in the village Roulia (Kotas) of Prespes. Captain Kotas's family was one of the most historic families of Roulia and lived in the village before its translocation to its modern spot. The location of the village on a main road rendered it vulnerable to Ottoman troops and armed gangs, which occasionally caused damages, plunders and murders. Therefore, its inhabitants were forced to abandon the place and move to the place where the village can be found today and which was then well protected in the forest.

Kottas grew up in Roulia. He was not very fond of school or studying, but he was forced to learn how to read and write due to breadwinning reasons. After the death of his father, Christos, he himself was responsible for the accounting work of his family grocery store. Later, he was occupied with transporting goods and people, and this contributed to his traveling for many years in Thrace, Constantinople and even Serbia. In 1886, he returned to Roulia and worked as a grocery seller, shoe maker, candle maker and inn keeper. He earned so much money that he gave a part of it to help his poor fellow countrymen. He built a guest house in Roulia, where people in need would find shelter and food.
Ever since 1901, he made a strenuous effort against Bulgarian terrorism and minded keeping hope alive in the hearts of Greeks. He cooperated with the Metropolitan of Kastoria Germanos Karavaggelis and Pavlos Melas.
The prevalence of extremists in the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) led to the hardening of their attitude against the Greeks, culminating in the Ilinden uprising, which Kottas tried to prevent from happening. Until the last minute (1904) he tried to find ways of conciliation with local IMRO leaders, which was not accepted.
On June 9 1904, after being betrayed by his old IMRO comrades, he was arrested by the Ottomans and was transferred to the prison in Monastirion. On September 27 1905, after a trial, he was executed by hanging, despite the Greek consulate efforts to set him free by bribery. Captain Kottas's last words in front of the gallows were "Long live Hellenism (Greece)" in Bulgarian, as he was not (quite) fluent in Greek.
Kottas' house was renovated and converted into a museum, which has been open since 1995, with the aid of the association of "Friends of the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle" and the collaborating women's associations. What an awe, admiration and thrill can a visit to the home of this great Greek hero cause! Just the sense that you are in the place where this eminent figure grew up and acted, and this makes every Greek proud, this is enough to make us want to visit this place again and again!!!
Captain Kottas' house was one of the richest in the area and the only one that had an internal bathroom. The building is composed of two floors. On the ground floor there are five rooms with traditional housewares and tools. Weapons of the Macedonian Struggle era are exposed on the first floor, as well as medals and pictures of Makedonomachoi (Macedonian fighters) of the Florina region, traditional costumes of the family and a bookcase donated by the Western Macedonia Women's Association.

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