This small beautiful town of western Macedonia can offer a lot to naturists as well to lovers of fur and leather clothes.
As you approach Kastoria, you can see a bank of water, surrounded by picturesque mountains, where hamlets stand dispread. The town is built on the shore of the lake in a strange formation that is thin at the edges and wide in the middle, while it seems to divide the lake in half.
The best way to take an idea of the town, is go for a walk along the coast of the lake whether on foot or by car. Kastoria is a different town not only because of the lake but also because of the presence of many big stores and fur factories that their line is the fur and leather trade. The town has a tradition in the production of furry clothes that has started since the 15th century, and has made the town famous world-wide. In the past, there were customers from Europe, America and Russia, but the last years the custom mostly comes from Russia.
After the central road (the fur market), heading centrally, you will meet stores and premises lodged in old buildings, parts of byzantine fortifications, built in Justinian’s years for the defense against the onrushing Slavs in the 6th century.
Walking, you will meet Ntoltso, lovely vicinity with stylish kempt two-storey and three-storey houses built in the 16th-20th century, cobbled streets, gardens and parks. That time, the furs of Kastoria offered big means to the town, as they were worn by persons of high society of all big European capitals. This had as a result an economic prosperity and the erection of luxurious houses with special architecture. The ground floor of the houses looked like a fort, but the upper floors were tiled with wood, decorated with elaborate paintings and illuminated by stained-glass windows. A representative of these luxurious residences is the mansion-folklore museum of Aivazis in Ntoltso that you must visit.
In the oldest part of the town, you will have the opportunity of seeing 70 Byzantine Churches and chapels of the 9th and 18th century.
After Ntoltso vicinity you will meet a thick forest, with high trees and climbing plants and cormorants, pelicans, ducks and voutichtares swimming in a free-and-easy manner in the lake. Near the fringe of the forest, in the northern side of the chersonese, you will meet the white Monastery of Panagia Mauriotissa of the 12th century, and next to it, the chapel of Saint Ioannis Theologos of the 16th century. Nearby, before you reach the noisy town, you will meet Apozari, another quarter with old mansions.
In Kastoria, customs keep on reviving, many of which have their roots in Antiquity.
If you are found in the town on 6-8 January, you will meet “Ragoutsarides”, who revel and dance on the streets to the accompaniment of traditional instruments, indulging in a Dionysian revelry. It concerns an age-old custom, the springs of which vanish through time.
“Mpoumpounes” revive the last Sunday of Carnival. “Mpoumpounes” are big fires in the squares of the town, round which the attendees sit and taste Lenten food of Carnival. The junketing is accompanied by folk orchestras playing traditional music, and dance, till “Mpoumpouna” put out. The biggest “Mpoumpounes” are these of Ntoltso square, Apozari, Omonia square and the quarter of Old Hospital.
At home, the inhabitants keep the custom of “Haskaris”. According to this custom, after dinner, all the members of the family try to take the boiled egg in their mouth which is offered to them by means of a wooden stick and a thread. According to the custom, the egg is symbolic, as with the egg, the mouth closes for Lent, and opens again the Christ’s resurrection night.
Other customs of Kastoria are “Klidonas” on 24 June, the setting up of “Rodani” from Palm Sunday to Low Sunday, and “Veggera” in December.