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Σάββατο, 11 Ιανουαρίου 2014

The prefecture of Kastoria


The prefecture of Kastoria borders with Ioannina, Grevena, Kozani and Florina, while a part of it is at the Greek border with Albania. The area is dominated by the mountains of Pindos, Grammos, Voio and Vitsi, while it is crossed by Aliakmonas. It consists of 15 municipalities and the capital is the town of Kastoria.
Kastoria




Aspect of the lake in Kastoria
This city combines nature, history, tradition and culture, which certainly offers the visitor wonderful experiences and memories.

The name comes from Kastor, one of the Dioskouroi. Kastoria is an ideal destination for the lovers of the Byzantine history. Lake dwelling Mavriotissa with its folkloric frescoes of 1200, Agii Anargyri with the amazing paintings of Virgin Mary Koumpelidiki and other 40 beautiful churches.

During your ride you should not miss a visit to Ntoltso and Apozari neighborhoods. There, you will admire the imposing mansions of the 17th and 18th century and wander into past eras. The Natzi, the Mpassara and the Arampatzi mansions stir up a special interest.

Also for anyone who visits the region, it is worth to see the forest, the lake, the view from Prophet Elias and the stone bridges. Finally, a visit to the costume museum, the Folklore Museum and the Temple Church of Saint Anargyri of the 11th century is adviced.

One can reach Kastoria easily by plane since it has an international airport or by car in just 2 hours from Thessaloniki or 5 to 6 hours from Athens.


Ntoltso settlement in Kastoria

Argos Orestiko
It is the capital of the municipality Orestidos. It is located on the borders of the prefecture of Kozani and its population is estimated at 11000 inhabitants. It is also called Chroupista. Argos Orestiko was founded in the 7th century and experienced prosperity especially in the 15th century and onwards due to textiles and fur processing workshops. In the area attractions include the paleochristian temple of St. George, the triklitos Byzantine temple of St. George, the walls of the Roman city Dioklitianoupoli (out of Diocleziano), the Petrified Forest of Nostimo and the spas.
Nestorio

It is the largest village of Grammos. Located at 950 meters, it has a population of around 3000 inhabitants and is characterized by traditional architecture and beauty since the visitor can meet Grammos, Aliakmonas and Kastro there. It is divided into two settlements: Ano Nestorio and Kato Nestorio, which actually are now united. The fans of agritourism and nature’s sports are rewarded here. Moreover the River Party is a special event which takes place every August next to Aliakmonas and lasts 3 days.

Panoramic view of Nestorio

Aliakmonas River in Nestorio

Old and New Kotyli

They are picturesque villages at an altitude of 1450 meters and a distance of 10 km away from Nestorio and they are characterized by lush vegetation of beeches, black pine and fir trees. The thumping rock of 130 m, which is known as «Death of Kotyli» is unique. It took its name from the savage battles of the Civil War during which the rebels fell from the cliff to escape. Finally, it is worth to admire the view from the hilltop at Profylakio Tower at 1700 m. It is easy to see the outline of Olympus in the east, while in the north you face Vitsi and Kaimaktsalan.


The Death of Kotyli


Houses in Kotyli

Kypseli

It is one of 9 Grammochoria (villages of Grammos) that have Nestorio as center. Located at a distance of 50 km from Kastoria it took its name from its characteristic geomorphology. The inhabited houses are around 80 and they are all located at the heart of a coniferous forest with pine and fir trees. The Byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi is characteristic.


River Party Nestorio

To river party of Nestorio is the most widespread and historical music festival that has developed over the past 30 years and brings together every summer in the valley of Aliakmonas River over 50.000 visitors of all ages and music preferences. In a green location on the banks of the Aliakmonas and at a distance of just 1 km from the village of Nestorio, every year in the last days of July thousands of nature and music lovers gather for 5 days at the premises of the festival which functions as a campground with a capacity of over 4000 tents and every necessary facility usually offered by an organized camping (WC, shower, bar, restaurant).

The space of River Party

The program of events is announced over the Internet a few weeks before the opening and includes music concerts in two stages. In one of them perform some of the greatest names of the Greek music scene and in the second one, bands of new artists.

However, the fun does not stop here: in addition to the musical events, the area of the river party hosts a number of facilities for parallel activities (bungee jumping, paintball, archery, etc.) that will delight fans of extreme sports.


The space of River Party in the night

For those who have no means of transportation, their transfer to the river party is taken care by buses, which the Municipality of Kastoria provides for free for the days of the event connecting Kastoria with Nestorio, while for visitors from other parts of Greece there are frequent routes of the Bus Network (KTEL) and Olympic Airways.

Telephone: 24670 31011, 31012 (Municipal Corporation of Tourism, Culture, Social Welfare and Development of Nestorio).

Links: River Party Nestorio

Orestia

“Orestia” is a series of cultural events taking place every year in the second half of July. These events include music concerts, theatrical performances, presentation of traditional dance bands, film screenings, fairs and more.

Orestia is organized by the Municipal Corporation of Cultural and Social Development of Orestida Municipality.

Links: www.argosorestiko.gr



Boubounes


One of the most famous carnival traditions of Kastoria is “Boubounes”, large fires that light up in town squares at the last Sunday of the Carnival and trigger a great traditional revelry with dances and local delicacies.

Boubouna the start of fire

This custom, like most carnival traditions, goes back to the ancient times and it is pagan. Today the firing up of Boumpouna is one of the most common customs of Western Macedonia and marks the end of the carnival. Around the fire gather attendees in the evening and accompanied by traditional folk music orchestras they participate in the feast that holds up until the flame burns out. At the same time various carnival delicacies are offered along with wine, raki, halvah, olives and roast sausage.

Boubouna the start of fire

Boumpounes take place in all plazas of the city, while the largest of them are in Ntoultso, Apozari and Omonia square, but also in other near settlements such as Mavrochori, Vasiliada, Vogatsiko, Kostarazi, Dipotamia, Eptachori, Nea Zouzouli, Klisoura, Nestorio, Inoi and Pentavryso.


Ragkoutsaria


Ragkoutsaria, the traditional carnival of Kastoria, is a set of events with a special color and unique character. It starts on the 6th of January and ends three days later on the 8th of the month with the parade of Carnival.

The history of Kastoria carnival is long. Moreover it coincides with the ancient fairs made in the context of Dionysian worship, part of which was also disguises.

Ragkoutsaria, the traditional carnival of Kastoria

Most city residents and visitors participate in the celebrations with joy and fun. All together form the so-called “mpouloukia” (mobs), each with its own traditional orchestra in various disguises wandering around the streets of the city and creating an actual outdoor feast.

Ragkoutsaria, the traditional carnival of Kastoria

The feast climaxes on the third day of the event, the Pateritsa as the people of Kastoria call it. Early in the afternoon everything is ready for the big carnival parade where all the “mpouloukia” (mobs) dance satirizing persons and situations with original ideas. In fact the best mob is awarded by the municipality of the city. Together they end up in Ntoltso, the old medieval square of Kastoria and there in a frantic jamboree they compete among themselves, which will cover the other with his music.

On the 6th of January Santa Claus gives away gifts to the children after the sanctification of the water and starts from square Davaki, always accompanied by traditional happy folk music from the band and offers Kastoria’s wine to those he encounters on the way. Noon at Omonia Square begins the carnival and the “mpouloukia” take part. Early afternoon they present themselves in every street of the city with live music from popular orchestras. Noon of the next day starts the dancing and the revel.

The young and the old visit as “mpouloukia” friendly always homes - which are open to those unexpected visits - and tease the owners asking for treat. Plenty of wine and traditional dishes are offered in the largest squares of the city. When the third day of the events starts everybody is ready for the big carnival parade in Metropolis Street that ends with fireworks, giving everyone a broad smile and unforgettable impressions.


Grammos Mountain
Grammos is the fourth highest mountain in Greece after Mount Olympus, Smolikas and Voras. It has an altitude of 2520 meters and is part of the wider range of Pindos.

Old Dispilio
In the middle of the last century due to the fall of water levels in times of drought, parts of wooden pales were revealed in Lake of Kastoria, which were remains of a prehistoric settlement.

The excavations carried out so far in the region show that it is the oldest lake village of Europe, which dates in 5500 BC. This lake village shows development for more than 2,000 years, while during the period of its thriving it is estimated to reach 4.5 kilometers in length and to have over 3,000 residents. A wooden plate has been found in the sludge of the region which is the oldest writing in the world (precursor form of Linear A) dating in 5300 AC and the oldest musical instrument in Europe, a flute engraved on a bird bone.

Despite the fact that researches are continuing in the region, a park-museum has been set up for visitors, where part of the settlement has been recreated by constructing copies of prehistoric hutches, tools, pottery, fetish and objects that were used in everyday life.

Source:
Study of tourist development in Regions of Central and Western Macedonia
Studies Office of George Michaelides A PHASE - Chapter 1 - 59
Links: Dispilio Excavations


Views of the lake village Dispilio
http://www.ifms-grammos.gr/en/attractions-old-settlements-en

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