Kastoria! Kilitro, that means attraction, was the first name of the city, wheras Kastoria derived from the beavers of the lake (beaver = castor – Kastoria). A place blessed from nature.
A city beautiful and lonely, traditional and modern as well, that seems to emerge from the lake waters. The natural beauties in combination with the traditional heritage render Kastoria a dreamland. The imposing mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries, relics of an other time, of an other original as well as unique architecture, and the more than70 churches, 26 of them are Byzantine, with a rich hagiography, are the testaments of the financial blossom and cultural development of the area during those days.
Kastoria, the sovereign of Western Macedonia, a city from where the visitor will leave full of experiences and with a strong longing to return.
MANSIONS OF KASTORIA
The building of the Kastoria Mansions that begun in the middle of the 17th century is connected with the period that the cities and towns of Western Macedonia blossomed. Their majority was owned by rich fur tradesmen and manufacturers. Their marchitecture comprises folkloric elements. Most of them are two or three-storey. The basic building materials were stone (also bricks later), mud, chourazani(mixture of lime and sand) and wood. Each house had a paved rectangular or square yard, which was separated from the road with a stone fence. The mansions, besides their aesthetic aspect, satisfied the daily social needs of the family. By entering the house one could see the stairs that led to the upper floors. At the ground floor there were various facilities and the barrels of wine were kept at the basement, as well as food, the kneading trough and the coal storehouses. At the upper floor, one would find a big and commodious living room, the famous ‘’ Doxato’’. It was the main room of the house for the happy or sad events: engagements, marriages, carnival celebrations. The ‘’ Doxato’’ was a Π –shaped rectangular living room. On the opposite, there were the ‘’minteria‘’, i.e. build sofas , surrounded by two series of large colored windows.
MUSEUMS OF KASTORIA
THE BYZANTINE MUSEUM:
it is situated at the Xania hill. Its exhibits include some of the rarest examples of Byzantine hagiography, that is, portable icons.
THE FOLKLORIC MUSEUM:
at the Doltso quarter, the Nerantzi – Aivazi mansion of the 17th century depicts the life and the household of the Kastorians in older times.
THE COSTUME MUSEUM:
the mansion of Emmanuel Bros at Doltso exhibits a well–organized collection of Kastoria costumes.
THE DELINANIO MUSEUM:
Also AT Doltso quarter. It exhibits embroideries, woven articles and household articles of the last centuries, as well as a rich photo archive.
CHURCHES OF KASTORIA
The more than seventy Byzantine and post Byzantine churches are unique historical monuments of Kastoria, built from the 9th till the 19th century , giving he city a special character.
The visitors may notice, almost at each step, church roofs emerging at crossroads or house yards. Built by Kastorian families from citizens, members of craft unions or Byzantine titulars, these churches are small in size. Their building follows the construction mode of the houses. Many of them are built on ruins of Byzantine churches or on tombs.
The usual architectural type is a three –isle basilica whereas the church is clearly divided into the narthex, the main church and the ‘’Agio Vima ‘’. The brick or stone walls, composing various formations ensure not only the decoration of the church, but also its static’s. Bricks are used to form crenate bands for the house it self, as well as the arcaded window frames. Bricks on a double series form the monogram of Jesus Christ.
All churches are full of frescos that in many cases cover their outer faces. In almost all cases, there is a stable arrangement in successive zones. The lower zone depicts saint figures. The upper zone depict pictures of the most important events of Christ’s life on earth, from Annunciation till the Ascension or only scenes from the tortures of Christ. At the bema concha, one will find icons of Panagia i Vrefokratousa of Platytera and at the lower part scenes from the service with the three hierarchs and other saints. After the 15th century, many churches had woodcut temples of high artistic value.
The churches of Kastoria, the rich history of the city and its particular beauty attract several visitors and generate a continuous request for the protection of the monuments and the maintenance of the city’s profile.
The Byzantine Museum keeps portable icons that once decorated churches, constituting rare examples of Byzantine art.