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Travelling to the highlands of Kastoria

 

  • Χιονοδρομικό Βίτσιου
  • Χιονοδρομικό Βίτσιου
  • Λίμνη Μουτσάλια - Αρρένες Γράμμου

Magnificent destinations to our peregrination are the mountainous ranges of the Prefecture of Kastoria, Gramos, Vitsi and Voio, which await you to discover them in order to reveal to you their secrets. Forests and picturesque settlements of unique beauty accompany you to your journey. Gorges, rivers and lakes which constitute rare water lands, remain in this part of Greece a hospitable habitat for many endangered avifauna and fauna species. Apart from the natural beauties of these massifs and the sports activities offered to the visitor, during the trips we suggest, you will have the chance to get in contact with the history and culture of the area, by visiting the traditional settlements with the special architecture.

ON VITSI

On the mountainous cluster of Vitsi, exquisite beech forests of rare flora and fauna are ideal biotopes for many species of animals and plants, some of which are endangered. The bleak landscape and the traditional, picturesque settlements “strewn” on its slopes, invite you to a journey of pleasurable exploration. In addition, for those who love skiing, there are on the mountain the facilities of a well organized ski center which runs at 1800m above sea level.

AT THE SKI CENTER

Fourteen kilometers from the town of Kastoria, taking the old road to Florina, we reach at the foot of Mount Vernon and the village Vissinia. Not very far from the village, we meet two country churches, St.Athanasios built in 1886 and St.Kiriaki built in 1884, as well as two watermills built in 1910. thereafter we reach Oxia, a small village with great variety of mushrooms which abound in the region. At the end of July, one of the so called “Festivities of the Earth” takes place there, the “Mushroom Festivities”, where you can taste various mushroom delicacies, dance and enjoy yourself together with the hospitable inhabitants. Oxia is the starting point of the beech forests of the mountain, shelter for many animals, among which is the endangered brown bear.
A few kilometers further up we meet the traditional settlement of the Polikerassos and the Ski Center of Vitsi which runs from December till March. There are three ski runs with common starting point. The center one has a length of 1000m, the one on northeast 2500m and the one on northwest 1300m. two and a half kilometers away from the center, an enchanting view waits for you, on an altitude of 2126m, exactly under the highest peak of Mount Vernon, where the monument for the dead of the Civil War is built as well.

FROM VISSINIA TO KASTORIA

Leaving Vissinia we follow the road which leads to Sidirohori, a developing traditional settlement with many guesthouses. In this settlement, in the area called Kzania, Pantelis Voulgaris (a great Greek film director) shoot the film “Deep Soul” referring to the Civil War. Descending towards the town of Kastoria, we meet two settlements, Kefalari and Aposkepos, with a magnificent view of the town and Lake Orestiada. At the square of Aposkepos you may drink cool, fresh water from the stone fountains.

TOWARDS KLISSOURA

One of the areas on Vitsi which you won’t neglect to visit, of course, is Klissoura and the homonymous, legendary Vlach village with great history. Yoy may start your trip from the situated by the lake village Mvrohori, taking the road which leads to Edessa and Thessaloniki. Before reaching Klissoura, you will meet two settlements, Stavropotamos and Melissotopos where the biggest and one of the oldest monasteries of Kastoria is located, the monastery of Agii Anargiri. A women’s cooperative, promoting traditional goods is also found there. If you visit Melissotopos in September, you will have the chance to attend the “ Bean Festivity’, one of the “Festivities of the Earth”, where wine and bean soup is offered. A few miles before Klissoura, the village Vassiliada is located, where you may visit the monastery Agia Paraskevi, an old glebe of the monastery of Agii Anargiri. According to an inscription found in the monastery, its frescos were created in 1852.

On the east of the village of Klissoura, in a bright green landscape, you will come in view of the imposing monastery of the region, dedicates to Virgin Mary, built in 1600. The archirectural style of the Katholikon is Byzantine with luminous dome.

ON THE ROAD TO KORESTIA

Starting off the town of Kastoria we arrive at the village Kromilia with the old, arched bridge and the monastery of St. Nicolas. A few miles further we find the New Settlement of Korestia. Here you may get in touch with the characteristic architecture of most settlements of this region, known as Korestia. The houses are made of red clay, burnt in the sun, with wooden –strawed and tiled roofs. If you wish to get a close view of the house where Pavlos Melas ( leading figure of the Macedonian struggle) spent the last days of his life, follow the road which crosses Kraniona, Mavrokabos, Agios Antonios, Halara and Makrohori to enter the village called Statista in the past, Melas nowadays. Into the village Melas seek for the house in the yard of which the Bulgarians killed this great fighter who loved Macedonia passionately.

ON HISTORICAL GRAMOS

On the west of the Prefecture, spreads the commanding cluster of Gramos which coexists in harmony with the springs of the biggest river in Greece, Aliakmonas. Along the river banks hydrotopes are formed, hosting many flora and fauna species which are differentiated according to the altitude..

TO TSOUKA

Setting off from the town of Kastoria, before reaching Nestorio – the “gate of Gramos” as it is called – we meet Agia Anna settlement. The region is famous for an invaluable religious treasure, the historical monastic complex of Tsouka, dedicated to the Archangels. Three churches from 1200 A.D. resemble those of Meteora, as they “hung” 150m. above a tributary of Aliakmonas. Since 1961 the monastery has been declared scheduled monument.

TO NESTORIO

Nestorio, one of the oldest settlements of Kastoria, follows. From its natural citadel, the Castle, the impressive view of Gramos and Aliakmonas unfolds. On the hill of the Castle cultural events are held during the summer, organized by the Municipality.

The main attractions in the town are the church of the Almighty Archangels, the iconostasis of which has been characterized as a masterpiece of ecclesiastic Art, and the church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, a three-aisled Basilica, built in 1846, which adorns the main square.

THE RIVER PARTY AND THE WALKING PATH E6

Nestorio is one of the most famous Greek regions, because the oldest and one of the largest River Parties of the country is organized there. Every year, during early August, thousands of campers – often surpass fifty thousands- inundate the place where the party is held, just outside the town, next to the waters of Aliakmonas. Moreover, from the region of Nestorio, passes an off-shoot of the international walking path E6.

FROM PEFKOS TO LINOTOPI

Passing the bridge of Glikoneri, after Nestorio, the beautiful settlement Pefkos is located, creation of builders from Epirus who were persecuted by Ali Pasha. Here commence the landscapes of wild natural beauty of Gramos. Beeches give way to black pines, while gorges, torrents and streams enter into alliance with Aliakmonas. Between the rock, the linden and the shrines for the dead of the civil War, rises in the heart of Gramos the monastery of St. Zachary, with hagiographies made by the famous painters of the neighboring village Linotopi. The magic of the Barouga forest follows with black pine trees. In 1985 it was declared scheduled natural monument.

Magnificent destinations to our peregrination are the mountainous ranges of the Prefecture of Kastoria, Gramos, Vitsi and Voio, which await you to discover them in order to reveal to you their secrets. Forests and picturesque settlements of unique beauty accompany you to your journey. Gorges, rivers and lakes which constitute rare water lands, remain in this part of Greece a hospitable habitat for many endangered avifauna and fauna species. Apart from the natural beauties of these massifs and the sports activities offered to the visitor, during the trips we suggest, you will have the chance to get in contact with the history and culture of the area, by visiting the traditional settlements with the special architecture.

FROM GRAMOS TO GISTOVA

Continuing your journey you will meet village Gramos. The renowned Vlach village was led to decline during the Civil War and few things remind us of its glorious past anymore. Ascending on 1400m, you will reach at the valley of Gramousta, ideal spring-board for climbing on the surrounding peaks and Lake Gistova, found on an altitude of 2300m. Heading southwards from the village Gramousta, the road leads to river Sarantaporos. After crossing its bridge you reach Arenes, an impressive cluster of mountain peaks, separated to upper and lower Arena, with the highet paek reaching 2192m.

TO LAKE MOUTSALIA

In this region the dreamlike plateau “Trakosara” is situated, which took its name from a spring. Its water according to the locals “weighs three houndred dreams”. Here you will also enjoy the alpine Lake Moutsalia with its water- lilies and its freezing waters, that look like grey-green granite and host a rare amphibian, the Alpine Triton, a “small fish with legs”, as the locals describe it.

FROM PEFKOFITO TO KOTILIO

Heading southwards we go through Pefkofito. The village in the old days was called Vissado and, according to the locals, it was sinking in the eroded by the river terrain. The next village is built at a place offering a view which weighs in gold, as its name, Hrisi ( gold), reveals. Eptahori follows with the marvelous monastery of St. George where the visitor may see the carved signs of the zodiac at the vestibule and hagiographies dating back to 1625. Near Eptahori, Zouzouli is located, famous for its one-arched bridge 25m long and 7m high. According to tradition, it was built by master-builders of Konitsa. A mulle-driver paid for it because his brother had drowned in the river.

Returning to Nestorio you will meet Kipseli, Kotili anf new Kotili. The second village is in ruins today, but its exquisite stone houses, dispersed on the slope, under the cliffs of Haros, bear witness of its long, historical course.

ON THE NORTH SLOPES OF GRAMOS

Our trip begins from the south of the town of Kastoria. Only 11km away we reach the exquisite, by the river forest of Mesopotamia. Plane- trees, poplar- trees, willow- trees and alder-trees shadow specially formed spots near the river, ideal for picnics.

As we ascend, we pass though the villages Agia Kiriaki,Oinoe, Pteria, Polianemo, Akodio, Hionato, Komninades and we arrive at Dipotamia.The village built on an altitude of 1.500m is the base for excursions to the north slopes of the mountain.

There are numerous springs in the region, among which, at Messovraho, a thermal one. On the road to Nestorio we traverse the derelict villages of the civil war (in the last few years new houses are begin built) Kali Vrissi, Trilifo, Monopilo, Gianohori, Livadotopi.
The area of north Grammos is rich in flora and fauna and is also a biotope of bears, deer, rare predatory birds etc.

TO THE CHESTNUT VILLAGES AND TO ODRIA

This mountain called Voio range is formed by four mountains of great natural beauty, having a direction from the north to the south, like the rest of Pindos. Its length reaches 45km, and almost 80% of the land is covered by forests.

AT AMOUDARA

Setting out of Argos Orestiko, passing the bridge of Aliakmonas, in 4km you will find amoudara, with fields full of river sand. There are thermal springs and a hydrothermal unit, with ultra modern facilities runs all year round. Neighboring, sublime villages in the forest, suitable for hiking, are Votani, Dialehto and Velos.

ON THE ROAD TO NOSTIMO

Crossing a tributary of Aliakmonas, you may visit Asproklissia and Skalohori. Climbing on the full of chestnut-trees slopes; you arrive in Nostimo, on an altitude of 920m. The village is globally famous for the Petrified Forest, twenty million years old. In the museum fossils of palm trees, star fish, shells, even a shark tooth, are exhibited. These findings are a great scientific importance as they provide answers to questions about the course of the development of the planet and the climate.

AT THE CHESTNUT VILLAGES

At the verdant villages Anthiros, Spilios, Kerassona and Agios Elias spread out in all their grandeur chestnut and nut forests. On the west side of Agios Elias one of the most beautiful, post-Byzantine monasteries is situated, St. Athanasios of Zikovista, built in 1629. Following the south course, you will arrive at Kastanofito, one of the chestnut villages of the area where in October, a few days before the celebrations for St. Demetrios, the “chestnut Festivity” is organized.

ON THE ROAD TO ODRIA

Right after the chestnut villages we meet Kato Perivoli and Zevgostasio, a region famous for one more Byzantine treasure. A church of the 11th century dedicated to the Assumption of Virgin Mary. The villages Spilea and Melanthio follow. Melanthio is connected to historical battles which took place there during the Macedonian Struggle. Nearby villages you may visit are Niki, Petropoulaki, Laga and Vrahos, ideal starting point for trips to two peaks of Mount Voio, Small and Big Odria.