Samarina was founded in 15th century on the wooded slopes of Mount Smolikas, west of Grevena. This market town in the Pindos mountains with its Vlach population enjoyed three successive centuries of exceptional economic growth and cultural development. On a map from 1560, it is shown under the name Santa Maria de Praetoria.
Its inhabitants tended sheep and goats and wove a woolen fabric called 'velentza', which they sold at the region's trade fairs. The people of Samarina were also involved in trade, and as muleteers they headed the long caravans that traveled all over the Balkans. The level of culture reached by this town (it had both schools and a library) is evident in the excellence of its religious painting.
Artists from Samarina, organized into family teams, covered not only local needs but also branched out into other regions, as far away as the Peloponnese. After the liberation of 1913, the residents of Samarina and other mountain villages began to move down to the urban centers of the plains; many of them also emigrated abroad.