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The oldest traces of human existence from the Paleolithic era were discovered at the Cave of Petralona in Chalkidiki , where a fossilized head of a Neanderthal man was found Ever since that time, Macedonia has been at the epicenter of history, power, and wealth, not to mention art and the simple life. This is a region of fertile plains crossed by many rivers, some of which bear gold dust. It also has more ecologically interesting lakes than any other part of Greece. The Macedonian mountains were chosen by the gods as their dwelling place, and on their highest peak, Olympos , the ruler of the gods set his throne. Thessaloniki , the capital of Macedonia, Greece's second city, has a continuous history dating back more than 2,300 years. Extraordinary monuments reflecting its brilliant past, including beautiful Byzantine churches, may be seen throughout the city, in a blend of old and modern, simple and complex, where every era has its own character and charm. Thessaloniki was also the second most important city of Byzantium after Constantinople and major outpost of the Roman Empire. Its Archaeological Museum contains finds unearthed in the region, witnesses to the power that had its source here and was embodied in its most famous son, Alexander the Great, who made Macedonia ruler of the known world. His beauty, talents, and burning ambition changed the course of human history. Pella , Vergina and Dion demonstrate the archaeological dimension of Macedonia to the modern visitor. But if Olympos was the home of the gods of antiquity, another Macedonian mountain, Mt. Athos , became the cradle of Orthodox monasticism. Here men have rejected worldly things and have dedicated themselves to spiritual salvation and the closest possible identification with God for more than 11 centuries. This majestic mountain is

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4.000 Years of Greek History and Civilization. In Chalkidiki, in Petralona Cave, the remains were found of the first man to inhabit Greece. He lived on for tens of thousands of years with stones as his only tools.
Life took on another aspect in the Neolithic era. By then men and women were born and died in sun-dried brick houses roofed with branches and reeds. They founded settlements and cultiviated the earth. In their hands clay became a means of making utensils and art. The small clay idols from Nea Nikomidia (6.000 B.C.) and the clay heads from Drama (4.000 B.C.) reveal their sensitivity and their attempts at self-expression. Around the year 2.300 B.C., new groups of people appeared in Macedonia. And the fate of the Greeks can be discerned in their traces. Little by little they learned to use metals, bronze to start with, later iron. Iron weapons, bronze jewelry, decorative objects found in the funeral mounds at Vergina, indicate the level of civilization that those people had reached. This is how the “Macedonia Nation” began. During the Archaic period, colonies founded by the Greeks of the south brought Macedonia into closer contact with the rest of the Greek world. Pottery from Corinth and Athens traveled to Macedonia along with architectural elements from Ionia. In the Classical era, the influence of southern Greece became even more fertile and creative. To the extent that King Alexander, a forefather of the Alexander the Great, took part in the Olympic Games, which were closed to non-Greeks.
The palace at Vergina played host to philosophers, poets, painters and musicians. Aristotle opened the way to European thought. Masterpieces influenced by the creative works of the Ioanians took on a different form in the hands of local artists.
Cities were built according to perfected plans. Painters gave us inspired works on the walls of the palaces and royal tombs; Craftsmen did wonders with gold. This art eventually spread to the far reaches of the East and was assimilated by the populations there together with memories of Alexander. The Great King lived on in hosts of myths lodged in the imagination of mediaeval man and were passed on to Renaissance Europe. Christianity came to Macedonia when it was still in its infancy, brought by St. Paul himself, who traveled and taught on its soil. Thessaloniki became the second city of the Byzantine Empire. Grand and magnificent civic monuments, churches and monasteries were erected throughout Macedonia. The early basilicas were followed by ecclesiastical architecture of all types. At Kastoria there are dozens of churches whose interiors are decorated with the glowing portraits of archangels, saints and donors; in Veria, the church of Christ in famous for its colorful compositions; while nothing can compare with the jewels of the monastic state of Mt. Athos. In Thessaloniki such monuments abound: there are fifty-seven churches and forty monasteries and dependencies, where the floors are decorated with mosaics and the vaulted ceilings with angels trumpeting to the heavens. Everywhere you look there are examples of Byzantine architecture and painting. In Turkish-occupied Macedonia, everything came to a halt until the moment when the Greeks wereableto acquire some control over the region’s economy in the 18th century. The art of that era relied on the inspiration of the local craftsmen, whose superb work can be seen in the carved doors, pottery, costumes, gold and silver jewelry. You can see them in Macedonia’s old mansions and churches. The icons painted then show such fear in the Virgin’s expression, fear for the fate of the Babe that she holds, the fate of her enslaved people. The conquerors swept through Macedonia, pillaging as they went, until the day came when they were subdued by the effect of the civilization they encountered, which always had something new to show them.


“And may she be named Thessaloniki”, said King Philip of his first daughter. Later, Kassandros, Alexander the Great’s general who succeeded him on the throne, married the young princess and gave her name to the city he founded (316-317 B.C.). From here, St. Paul, the Apostle of the Nations, spread the Word of Christianity (50 A.D.). And the Roman emperor, Galerius, made the city his headquarters (300 A.D.). Here, too, Demetrios, a Roman officer, was martyred, thus becoming Thessaloniki’s patron saint (303 A.D.). The wealth and glory of Byzantium followed. Along with a succession of enemies (Slavs, Avars, Saracens, Normans, Catalans and Turks), but each time, after each invasion, Thessaloniki survived, clad in the Byzantine and ancient garb for which she was predestined.
Her beauty was trumpeted far and wide. The magnificence of her landmarks:
The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda with its mosaics. Aghia Sofia, the Ahiropiitos, Ossios David, Aghioi Apostoli, the Vlatadon Monastery, Aghios Dimitrios, Profitis Ilias, Aghios Nikolaos – churches representing every phase of Byzantine architecture and painting – as well as Byzantine walls, castles and towers. The White Tower, built on the site of an older tower, and the other tower, its twin, the Trigonio.
The Archaeological Museum is a true surprise, the wealth and splendor of its contents fixes us like a magnet, while the Folk Art Museum entrances us with its lovely crafts from the 18th and 19th century. Not far from the museum is a contemporary landmark, the International Fair Grounds, a crossroads where people meet in friendship and cooperation, while above it looms the University named after Aristotle. All Thessaloniki pulsates with life. The streets are bustling with activity. The streets are allow with cars. Spacious avenues, parks, squares, trees. Streets lined with shops and alluring show-windows. Old, neoclassical houses next to modern apartment blocks. And plenty of tavernas, ouzeris, restaurants, hotels, nightclubs, bars, “bouzoukia” (Thessaloki was where rebetika, the Greek “blues”, was born), cinemas, theaters, cafes whose chairs and tables fill the pavements and the piazzas.
Little dives and cellars specializing in Macedonian treats. Places to “hang out” and have an ice-cream cone or a “submarine” (a spoonful of something sweet dipped in a glass of ice water). And places where you can just be quiet. Another world after the brouhaha of the city. The Upper Town with its poetry and charm. Old neighborhoods with narrow alleyways and gardens. Courtyards draped with laundry. Wide-open doors and carefree children playing. Rebetika melodies and the scent of exotic flowers waft through the air. With your every step you glimpse the heart of Thessaloniki. An immortal heart, a perpetual beat. An inseparable companion in joy and in sorrow.


Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos are the three peninsulas that make up Chalkidiki.
Land and sea. Tranquility and eternity.
Forests of beeches, chestnuts, willows, cypresses, plane trees. Beaches and beguiling coves. Golden sand. Picturesque villages. Potidea, Olinthos, Stagira, Aristotle’s birthplace. Each town has its own history and its own ancestral glory. Mt. Athos, the Holy Mountain of Orthodoxy.
Here tradition – ever present in Macedonia – is still vibrant in the villages. Women’s rule at Monoklissia, Fire-walking at Aghia Eleni, Dionysiac dances at Gazoro.
Seres, the prefectural capital, is a modern, bustling city, with broad streets and open squares. The new town blends pleasantly with the old. In its northern sector, on the piney hill of Koula, the ruins of the ancient; acropolis and the Byzantine castle bear witness to a history stretching from the depths of time. There is also a 14th century church here, dedicated to St. Nicholas with beautiful mosaics. At a distance of 12 kilometers, in a gorge stands the monastery of Timios Prodromos (1270 A.D.) with frescoes of various periods.
More antiquities are to be found at Amfipolis, 62 kilometers from Seres, once an Athenian colony, founded in 437 B.C.
Outside the village, near the bridge over the Strimon river, the famous Lion of Amfipolis was discovered, a 4th century B. C. funerary sculpture. The pieces were reassembled and now the Lion guards the bridge.
Sidirokastro, near the Bulgarian border, is a pretty town built on the banks of the Kroussovitis river. It took its name (Iron Castle) from the stronghold on the imposing rock, 155m. above it, that once offered sure protection. The town and the surrounding area are almost overwhelmed by greenery and richly endowed with streams, waterfalls, bridges, churches and monaste
Neolithic settlements, royal tombs with frescoed walls, gold caskets and gold wreaths and crowns, waterfalls, rivers, high mountains, verdant villages and endless plains are some of the things Imathia has to offer. Veria is the prefectural capital, a modern town that still has several traditional neighbourhoods. In Byzantine times it was a major center, one of the chief cities of Macedonia. Its past importance is reflected in its 51 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, many of which contain wonderful wall paintings.
It is only 12 kilometers northwest of Vergina, which gained world-wide renown with the discoveries made by Professor Manolis Andronikos there in the late 1970s. The incredible wealth of the site’s finds led to the conclusion that Vergina was actually the first capital of the kingdom of Macedonia, Eges. The excavations brought to light the acropolis, well-preserved sections of the walls, foundations of Hellenistic houses, the palace, theater, a temple and, to the north of the ancient city, the cemetery.
However, the most important monument at Vergina is the complex of royal tombs, which were unearthed in 1977-78 in the present-day village. The largest of them belonged to Philip II, a smaller one to a young prince, perhaps Alexander, and the third – square in shape – to a woman.
Many funerary steles were found in the vicinity, bearing invaluable inscriptions, all of them in Greek. Philip’s grave yielded a marble sarcophagus in which a solid gold larnax had been placed containing the ashes of the dead man and his golden crown. Round the box lay weapons, various vases and utensils bearing the royal seal. Here, too, was buried one of Philip’s seven wives. Her bones were also gathered in a gold larnax, in which there was another gold crown, one of the most beautiful pieces of ancient jewelry ever found, and a gold-weave purple cloth decorated with flowers and birds, which is on display along with the other funeral gifts in the Thessaloniki museum. However, something else, something utterly unique was also discovered in the grave: a painting of a hunting scene on an Ionian frieze. It is a masterpiece the like of which had only previously been seen in works of the Italian Renaissance. The Prince’s tomb is very similar to that of Philip. It, too, contains a painted frieze as well as a bed with gold and ivory ornamentation, surely one of the most elegant creations that has come down to us. Finally, the cist tomb yielded a brilliant fresco depicting Pluto’s abduction of Persephone; this and the hunting scene are the only original works of any great painters of antiquity that have survived to the present. Southwest of Veria, on the slopes of Vermion (18km.), lies the village of Kastanies, which is usually snowed-in during the winter. This is the site of the monastery of the Panagia Soumela, founded by refugees from the Pontos. At Kato Vermio (26 km. from Veria), all that snow is put to good use at the Seli ski center (1.400 m. alt). A town noted for its waterfalls, its wine, its fruit and its Carnival customs is Naoussa. Siltuated 19 kilometers from Veria in a green, well-watered region, it is very picturesque with traditional houses and the Arapitsa River running through it. Near Naoussa is the village of Lefkadia, where Macedonian tombs and the remains of Hellenistic buildings have been found. Finally, 9 km. northeast of Veria at Nea Nikomidia, excavations have revealed traces of a Neolithic settlement of the 7th millennium B. C., which is the oldest agricultural settlement along with Sesklo in Thessaly. The terra – cotta woman – shaped idols, as well as many frog figurines made of steatite are among the most interesting exhibits of the Veria Archaeological Museum


This is the region where you can combine your mountain holiday with a vacation by the sea. Not only will you find the Thermaic coast enchanting, you’ll also admire Olympos, the mountain of the gods. Pieria is thickly forested, with plane trees, pines, poplars and firs on Olympos.
The capital of this prefecture, Katerini, lies between the plain of Pieria and Mt. Olympos. Some 32 kilometers southwest of Katerini, the village of Aghios Dimitrios is built on a plateau where there are water and trees galore. The road to Siena tis Petras, the pass to Thessaly, is truly exciting, as is a walk up the impressive Olympos Gorge. At Dion, 17 kilometers south of Katerini, archaeologists have brought to light the extensive ruins of the Macedonians’ sanctuary of the gods. Amidst the lush vegetation and springs of the Pierian plain, just before the ascent to Olympos begins, one can see the ruins of the sanctuary buildings – the temples, two theaters and a stadium – while next to them, to the north, the remains of the ancient city of Dion stretch out. It was closely associated to Zeus as its name implies (in Greek the god is called Dias). Thousands of Macedonians used to flock to this place for the festivities and games dedicated to the god, which grew in importance after the 5th century B.C. Among the sacred buildings, the following are the most notable: the sanctuary of Demeter, two temples dating to ca. 500B.C., the Asklepieion, and the whole shrine dedicated to Isis, with its idols still standing on their bases. The city of Dion was well fortified by the wall erected in the 4th century B.C., and it had a splendid layout. The excavations have exposed flagstone streets, public buildings, shops, workshops, and houses, as well as the orchestra, stage and lower seats of Dion’s large theater. In the vast cemetery, to the north and west of Dion, there are four subterranean, brick-roofed Macedonian tombs.
In the 5th century A.D. violent earthquakes brought an end to the city’s prosperity. Nevertheless, enough remains of it to give today’s visitor a good idea of the beauty of the town with its ample public spaces, theater, numerous statues, and impressive fortifications. To come back to the present, Leptokaria (23 km. from Katerini) has a lovely beach long enough to attract crowds of Greek and foreign tourists each summer. Other seaside resorts are Methoni, Nea Agathoupoli with its splendid fishmarket, Aghios Panteleimonas with its Venetian castle, Platamonas with its sandy beaches, and Makrigialos with the ruins of ancient Pydna. Finally, on the slopes of Olympos, is the small town of Litohoro (24 km. from Katerini), an old summer resort and the starting point for those wishing to climb the legendary mountain. The enchanting valley of Enipeas with its river coming down from Olympos is worth visiting.
The town of Kilkis is the capital of this prefecture. The hill of Ai-Giorgis dominates the town, which is spread out at its feet. The post-Byzantine church of Aghios Georgios graces its summit; built in 1832, it contains unsual wall paintings. On the hill there are a tourist pavillion, amphitheatre, Hero’s monument and a war museum commemorating the 1913 battle for liberation from the Turks. Picturesque Goumenissa (44 km.), built on the slopes of Mt. Paiko, has quaint, narrow alleyways and charming old houses. Just 6 kilometers southwest of Goumenissa are the village and archaeological site of Europos. The ancient kouros found here and on exhibit in the archaeological museum numbers among the most important finds of the region. Also worth a visit is Palio Ginekokastro, where there is a ruined Byzantine fortress erected by Andronikos III Paleologos (1328-1341).
In the northern part of the prefecture is one of its jewels: Lake Doirani, a natural wonderland. One can swim in its waters and enjoy the idyllic hamlets built along its sandy shores. The tavernas at Doirari village serve delicacies fished from the lake. Here you will also find a Customs office, GNTO office, foreign exchange facilities at the National Bank, as well as a marina for fishing boats and pleasure craft. The western section of the prefecture is mountainous. The ascent of Mt. Paiko (1,500 m. alt.) brings much to marvel at: thickly wooded slopes, rushing brooks and streams and delightful little villages, such as Griva, Kastaneri and Livadia. You can also visit the village of Skra, where there is a monument to those that fell in the battle of Skra - Ravine on 17 May 1919, and the splendidly situated Hilia Dendra (4km. from Doirani village). Finally, at Kolhida, you will see ruined tombs from the 4th century A.D. and an Early Christian settlement (6th century).


Gorgeous scenery, fascinating historical monuments, superb beaches, plus all the services and facilities accompanying sound tourist development await the visitor to Kavala, one of the gems of eastern Macedonia.
A city with a distinguished past, Kavala occupies the site of ancient Neapolis. Its buildings rise like the tiers of an amphitheatre up the slopes of Mt. Simvolo, overlooking the picturesque harbour. The area has been settled since Neolithic times (3.000 B.C.), while Antisara, covering the present vilolages of Kalamitsa and Kipoupolis just outside town, was founded in the 5th century B.C. Neapolis, of somewhat later date, knew great prosperity thanks to its strategic location in the region: its proximity to the gold mines on Mt. Pangeo, on the one hand and its position on the main trade route uniting East and West, on the other. Much later, in commemoration of St. Paul’s visit, Neapolis was renamed Christoupolis.
Over the course of time, the region of Kavala had a turbulent history of invasions, wars and oppression before evolving into the important commercial center it is today. Besides having an active port, Kavala is the capital of the tobacco industry in Greece.
Although a modern business center, Kavala, is amply endowed with charms to attract and captivate any visitor, for it has managed to hold on to many features of its former appearance, resulting in a graceful balance of old and new. The spacious squares, contemporary constructions, shops and warehouses on the West side of the city blend harmoniously with the old houses with their gardens and enclosed balconies that jut out over the flagstones of the narrow alleyways on the east side. Traditional and modern meet and merge both in Kavala’s architecture and its layout. Furthermore, its up – to – date facilities for tourists, its nightclubs and its tavernas provide all the amenities while offering endless possibilities for a most pleasant stay.
Kavala’s harbor is particularly beguiling, filled with dozens of brightly coloured fishing caciques bobbing up and down at the quay before they set out at twilight, lamps lit for the night’s adventure.
The emerald island of Thassos – mythical land of the Sirens – rises out of the sapphire waves like a jewel in the Northern Aegean.
Brimming with history and tradition, the island delights the visitor with its natural beauty, the constant interchange between green and blue that one meets at every comer and cove. Its lush vegetation – woods thich with plane trees, oaks, cedars, chestnuts and pines – never ceases to astonish, and the terrain, rich in marble, takes on shapes and contours encountered nowhere else.
In the northeast, the scenery is wild; its steep, green glues and amazing coastline contrast sharply with the serene landscape of the southwest part of Thassos, where land and sea join in unruffled shallow bays. After the pleasant boat ride from Keramoti or Kavala, the traveler disembarks at Limenas, the starting point for getting to know the island.
Limenas or Thassos, the island’s capital on the northern shore, stands on the site of the ancient city. The island’s illustrious past has left its mark in the marble ruins and monuments that can still be seen today on the outskirts of town.
Among the most interesting are the ancient Walls, which encircled the entire city (7th – 5th century B.C.), the Acropolis, the Agora, the Theater, the Temple of Pythian Apollo and the Choregic Monument in the garden of the Sanctuary of Dionysos, to mention just a few of the attractions. Also worth a visit, the Archaeological Museum contains pottery of various periods, statues, architectural components and coins, among other exhibits. The Vayi Museum in Potamia is also open to the public.
One of the first things that strikes the visitor on setting foot on Thassos is the islanders’ intense devotion to tradition. This is immediately apparent in their buildings but also in their way of life, and particularly noticeable in the mountain villages of Theologos, Prinos, Panayia and Paries. Here looking at their houses or observing a few of their daily customs or part of a religious festival is like peering into the past. The houses with their high thick walls and flower gardens are turned inward, shutting out the rest of the world, a hold over from the days of pirates and other marauders. On the other hand, the enclosed wooden balconies and slate roofs are authentic examples of local folk architecture with several elements borrowed from Epirus and Macedonia.
Beautifully in tune with their surroundings, the islanders keep up their age – old legends, manners and customs. The festival held in the village of Limenaria, on the third day after Easter, is just one example of how the traditional ways are carried down from generation to generation. The villagers celebrate by dancing a local dance in costume, the men wearing breeches and black twin � peaked caps, while the women are decked out in long silk skirts, silk shawls and fur-trimmed pelisses.
But Thassos has many other surprises in store for the visitor: Drives past enchanting coves, opportunities for all kinds of excursions – whether to the sea or to the mountains – promising peace and relaxation in a splendid natural environment. The beaches at Makriamos (5 km. from Limenas), Archangelo, Aghios loannis, Limenaria, Potos, Pefkari, Aliki, Kinira and Skala Marion lure one for a swim in their cool, refreshing waters, while the islet of Thassopoula makes for a charming jaunt by cacique


Florina, the prefectural capital, is spread out over a hillside covered with wild chestnut trees.
Aminteo, a modern market town, lies 41 kilometers from Florina, while 6 kilometers from there, on the shores of Lake Vegoritis, there is the picturesque village of Aghios Panteleimonas, where an ancient settlement and cemetery have been excavated.
Nimfeo (53 km. from Florina), on the slopes of Mt. Vitsi (alt.1,350m.), is both a winter and summer resort, with delightful houses built in the local style.
Further up the mountain in the village of Pissoderi (alt. 1,420m.), where are Viglaski center is located. The part of this prefecture that holds the greatest interest for visitors, whether Greek of foreign, is its two lakes, which form the natural borders of Greece with Albania and the former Yugoslavia.
These lakes, Mikri and Megali Prespa are situated 850 meters above sea level and are separated by a narrow strip of land.
The shores of the smaller lake are filled with reeds that every year provide shelter for many kinds of birds. Looking as though it is floating in the middle of the lake is the islet of Aghios Ahilios, with both ancient and Byzantine ruins; its rocky coast harbors caves once used as shrines, whose walls are decorated with religious paintings.
On the shores of Megali Prespa, which may be either steep or rocky of flat and lush, there is a delightful little village called Psarades, which is very reminiscent of an Aegean hamlet with its characteristic architecture. Here, as well as at Aghios Germanos, where there is a Byzantine church dedicated to St. Germands with excellent frescoes, one will find tavernas serving freshly caught fish from the lakes. Niki (17 km. north of Florina) is one of the country’s exit-entry posts.
The capital of this prefecture is Edessa, built in the foothills of Mt. Vermion, with a view over the plain, lush greenery, flower – filled gardens and plenty of water. Edessa’s celebrated waterfall is to be found to the northeast of town, in a thickly wooded area with a stunning view. Under the largest cataract there is a small cave with a chapel dedicated to the Ascension (Analipsi). Five kilometers from here is the village of Agras, which took its name from the Macedonian warrior Tellos Agras. One of Greece’s biggest hydroelectric plants is located here. The lake that feeds the plant, which covers an area of 1,000,000 sq. m., has become a habitat for wild ducks and swans.
A town famed for its fruit and red peppers is Aridea, while Skidra is considered among the largest fruit-producing centers of Greece.
Another town with an abundance of water is Arnissa, built on the lower slopes of Kaimaktsalan, in front of the lake Vegoritis.
Finally, we have Gianitsa, the biggest city in the prefecture and an important agricultural and animal breeding center.
The villages of Palia & Nea Pela lie just 4 kilometers away, with the ruins of ancient Pela spread out between them. It was here that during the reign of Archelaos (413-399 B.C.) that Pela became the capital of the Macedonian kingdom. He built a new palace and invited Zeuxis, the greatest painter of the day, to decorate it. Both Philip II and Alexander the Great spent some time here.
By the 4th century B.C., the new capital had become the most important political, economic and administrative center of the Macedonian Kingdom.
Excavations here have unearthed portions of the walls, the palace, the sanctuaries of Aphrodite, Demeter and Cybele, the marketplace, cemetery and several houses. In two of these houses, which date to the late 4th century B.C., mosaic floors of exceptional quality have been found; they are perhaps the finest examples of the art yet discovered (on display in the museum).
Valleys and mountains. Alpine refuges and ski resorts. Glorious forests. Flocks of birds. Fertile soil, endless tobacco plantations. Caves with enormous multicoloured stalactites. Rivers that burble gently. Lyrical waters. Magical scenery. Hospitable people with warm smiles. The prefectural capital bears the same name, Drama. It lies at the foot of Mt. Falakro, which the locals call “the mountain of the flowers”.
This mountain of remarkable beauty boasts ski slopes for winter sports enthusiasts and four well-equipped refuges for climbers. The town, drenched in greenery and flowers thanks to its abundant water, looms above the valley filled with tobacco fields as far as the eye can see.
Why not take a hike through the wonderful forest of Elatia (70 km. north of Drama), where amongst the pines, oaks and willows, the red fir grows, a very rare tree in this country whose height often reaches 50 meters. Southeast of Drama (10km.) is the pretty market town of Doxato, with facilities for tourists and a reputation for fun and high spirits.
The Bounar-Bassi springs, a corner of Paradise with running streams and enormous trees, are just 3 kilometers away at the foot of Kouslari, a low mountain.


Kozani, a picturesque town set 710 meters above sea level, is the prefecture capital. The town has several interesting churches, some with beautifully carved icon-screens, some with lovely frescoes, as well as a few 19th century mansion houses. Kozani’s pride and glory is the Kouventarios Municipal Library, which contains 69.000 volumes and a large number of manuscripts. Also worth a visit is the Analipsi Monastery, a bit to the north of town, where the weavings, rugs and embroideries made by the nuns have won considerable renown. Those wishing a more traditional atmosphere will want to go to Siatista (28 km. to the southwest) on the slopes of Mt. Siniatsikos (alt. 920 m.). Thanks to its fur industry, the town prospered in terms of both commerce and culture in the 18th and 19th century, and the churches, schools and mansions built during that era still stand. The interiors of Siatista’s houses are beautifully decorated with carved wooden ceilings, stained glass windows and elegant fireplaces.
The market town of Velvendos lies 30 kilometers southeast of Kozani. Surrounded by plane and poplar woods, peach orchards and hazelnut stands near the Aliakmon River, it too has retained many of its old mansions. In addition, many new buildings are designed in the traditional style. Other villages where old Macedonian architecture can be seen and admired are Pentalofos, Katafigi, Vlasti and Tsotili with a picturesque arched bridge. Servia controls the pass over the mountains to Thessaly; here there is both a Byzantine fortress and several Byzantine churches with superb frescoes. Finally, at Perdikas, near the town of Ptolemaida, the anthropologist Aris Poulianos discovered the bones of a prehistoric elephant. One of the oldest specimens of the kind ever found in Europe, it lived in the region some three million years ago.
If you’re in the mood for quiet, clean mountain air, forests, mountain climbing, skiing, riverfishing, then surely this is the place for you. For Grevena’s extraordinary natural beauty not only astounds but captivates the visitor, though one should not expect luxurious accommodation or riotous nightlife. The prefecture capital is Grevena, built 543 meters above sea level on the banks of the Grevenitis river, a tributary of the Aliakmon.
The town possesses restaurants, tavernas, rotisseries, a cinema and an open-air theater. Every summer the theater hosts concerts, plays performed by the State Theater of Northern Greece, and appearances by Greek and foreign folklore ensembles. You can visit the villages in the district by bus, or if you have your own car, proceed with caution. One of these villages is Zakas, 23 kilometers from Grevena, set at an altitude of 900 meters.
There are two caves worth visiting, one at Mt. Orliakas and the other near the village named Spileo (cave), which stands on a cliff. At Paliouria (47 km.), don’t miss the Byzantine monastery of the Virgin Evangelistria and the monastery of Ossios Nikanor founded in 1534 not far from the Aliakmon River. The frescoes decorating its main church resemble those in the Varlaam monastery at Meteora and are most probably the work of the same painter, the famous Frangos Kastellanos. One place of exceptional loveliness and a good place to spend a summer holiday, is the village of Perivoli (45 km. from Grevena). Samarina, another charming village, is built on the slopes of Mt. Smolikas, 1.450 meters above sea level. Here the lush greenery and spectacular scenery cannot fail to please. Other villages that deserve a stop – all of them overlooking forests of firs, pines and willows – are Kipourio, Krania, Deskati, Avdela, Polineri, Smixi and Alatopetra, to mention only a few.


Kastoria, the capital of the prefecture of the same name, is one of Macedonia’s most picturesque cities. Built on the shores of a lovely lake, it delights the visitor with its old neighborhoods, its narrow lanes, stately mansions and Byzantine churches. The city flourished, both culturally and economically, during the Turkish occupation, particularly in the 17th century and afterwards. Since that time, the people of Kastoria have dedicated themselves to working with furs and to embroidery. Even today, the city boasts a large number of very profitable fur and textile ateliers and factories. Kastoria has more than 70 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, dating from as far back as the 9th century up to the 19th. Most of their walls are filled with frescoes of exceptional quality. The city’s famous mansions of the 18th and 19th century are also a sight to see. They are usually three-storey edifices with large windows, enclosed balconies and projecting “sahnisia”. Their interiors are spacious and sumptuously decorated with woodcarving and wall paintings. Don’t miss a visit to the Folk Art Museum, housed in one of the mansions. Lake Kastoria is especially beautiful in autumn and spring, the best seasons to get to know the town. At various points round the lake you’ll find restaurants, tavern as, rotisseries, and cafes for gazing at the lake and reflecting on what you’ve seen. Argos Orestiko (10km. from Kastoria) is fast developing into a boom town, thanks to the opening of weaving and fur-processing factories there.
There are many pretty villages in the district, perched on hillsides, surrounded by firs and willows, as well as lakeside settlements with tavernas specializing in fish from the lake.

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