The prefecture of Kastoria is one of the 13 prefectures of Macedonia. It is situated at the northwestern edge of Western Macedonia and it borders with Albania, and the prefectures of Florina, Kozani, Grevena and Ioannina.
Seat of the prefecture: Kastoria
Prefecture population: 53,483 (2001 census)
Distance of the prefecture seat from Athens: 552 km
The main areas of the prefecture are: Kastoria, Argos Orestiko, Vitsi, Dispilio, Eptachori, Klissoura, Nestorio.
The main source of income in the prefecture is the field of handicrafts and the small-scale fur processing. In the area there is a long tradition in fur manufacturing, going back 500 years.
The area is popular with many visitors, especially in the winter months. It's well known for its abundant natural beauty, the rich historical past, the traditional villages, the majestic mansions, the archaeological sites, the historical monuments and the churches dating back to the Middle Age and the Byzantine era.
The city of Kastoria, seat of the prefecture, is one of the most beautiful cities of Greece. Amphitheatrically built on the banks of the idyllic lake Orestiada, it is bound to enchant every visitor with its picturesque beauty. Kastoria has many interesting sights to offer.
You can stroll in the streets and the slab-paved lanes of the city, you can take a tour of the lake in a small boat and relax and enjoy the picturesque scenery. An absolute must is the Drakou Cave(Cave of the Dragon), close to the lake, with a 500 m visitors' route and a rich decor of stalactites and stalagmites. In this cave the petrified remains of the Cave Bear were found.
The renowned mansions of Kastoria, with their characteristic post-Byzantine architectural style, characteristic of the times of the Turkish occupation, stand as an evidence of the economic prosperity of the town in the 18th century and later, thanks to the manufacturing and commercial activity of the local fur professionals. The impressive interior decoration and the unique architectural style of the mansions, characteristic of northern Greece, make them a unique monument of tradition and a very important sight.
Byzantine walls and many Byzantine churches decorate the modern city of Kastoria. Visit the churches Panagia (Virgin Mary) "Tsondou Varda", TaxiarchiMitropoleos, Agion Trion, AgiouNicolaou (St. Nicolas) "Megaliou" and Panagia (Virgin Mary) "Koumbelidiki" with amazing murals. The monastery of Mavriotissa, built in the 12th century, is also decorated with murals on the outside, a practice usual in northern Greece, while the Turks have destroyed the eyes of the saints in the murals, during the Turkish occupation of the area. The country church of Ai Nikolas "Kremastos" is built inside a natural cave in the rocks, and it is of significant cultural and religious value.
Visit the Folk Museum, housed in the mansion of Nerantzia Aivazis, in the village Doltso. Also, the Byzantine museum, with exhibits mainly of Byzantine icons of the 12th to the 17th century, the Museum of Macedonian Struggle and the Traditional Clothing Museum housed in the mansion of Emmanuel brothers with an important collection of local traditional costumes.
At a distance of 7 km from Kastoria is situated the area Dispilio, where the first lake settlement has been discovered, dating back to 5.000 B.C. The first Greek Ecology Museum has been created in the same area. The petrified forest of Nostimo, dating back to 20 million years ago, is a unique geological monument. Between the foothills of Grammos and the banks of Aliakmonas river is built the beautiful village Nestorio, where the monastery of Panagia (Virgin Mary) "Tsouka" is situated.
In the modern town of Argos Orestiko can be seen the ruins of an ancient settlement. Here, you can visit the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios and the three-aisled basilica of Agia Paraskevi. The monastery of Agios Georgios, which has murals of the 12th century, dominates the beautiful village of Eptachori, built in a setting of fir and beech trees. In the historical traditional village of Klissoura can be found the renowned monastery of Panagia.
Other areas of the prefecture with interesting sights are: Mavrochori, Chryssi, Messopotamia.
The nature lovers can explore the area of the mountain Grammos, from where the river Aliakmonas, the longest (297 km) river of Greece receives its water. They can also explore the wetland habitat along the river and the dense forests of the area, as well as admire the flora and fauna of this great ecosystem.
22 km from the city of Kastoria operates the Vitsi Ski Centre, a great destination for the lovers of winter sports and adrenaline. The area generally lends itself to long walks that overwhelm the visitor with the wild beauty of the landscape.
The prefecture of Kastoriawith the abundant natural beauty, the traditional villages, the majestic mansions, the Byzantine monuments and the picturesque landscape, invites you to get to know it and it promises to offer you unforgettable experiences.
How you can get here:
By bus:There is frequent daily service with KTEL busses to and from Athens and Thessalonica.
By car:You can get to Kastoria by car via the Athens-Thessalonica National Road.
The distance from Athens is 593 km.
The distance from Thessalonica is 226 km.
The distance from Patras is 516 km.
The distance from Ioannina is 263 km.
By Air:Daily flights from the Eleftherios Venizelos Airport of Athens to Kastoria.
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