When one gets to Prespes, he comes in view of a scene of unique natural beauty… A verdurous landscape, a wonderful bank of water hiding a fabulous treasure of flora and fauna, islets and villages hidden among luxuriant vegetation exhale a boundless calmness and peace that only nature can generously endow.
This immense bank of water consists of Mikri and Megali Prespa, which are separated by a land strip of 5km length and 8-1000m width.
Megali Prespa is the biggest lake in Balkans, is 853m above sea level, is 288 km2 in extent, 37 km2 of which belong to Greece and the rest is parcelled out to Albania and FYROM, and is 50m deep. Mikri Prespa is 44 km2 in extent, and nearly the whole lake belongs to Greece, apart from a small part, which belongs to Albania.
In the two lakes and in the greater, there are more than 1500 plant species, 42 mammal species, 11 amphibian species, 21 reptile species and 23 fish species, 12 of which are endemic (such as grivadi, brana, tsironi, platica, kefalos, skoubouzi). The fowl fauna is rare and particularly important (260 species), with silver-pelicans and rose-pelicans maintaining their biggest reproduction colony world-wide, in Prespa.
The rich flora and fauna and the impressive variety of natural environment in general, had as a result the proclamation of the area as a National Park since 1974. In particular, Psarades and Agios Germanos villages constitute some of the protected traditional settlements of the Park. Mikri Prespa with its beautiful island, Agios Achilios, is protected by Ramsar Convention and constitutes one of the 11 hydro-biotopes of international importance.
You must anyway visit Agios Achilios, the characteristic island of Mikri Prespa, Psarades, the most famous village of Prespes, and Agios Germanos. A visit to the abandoned villages of the region will be surely exceptionally interesting.
The village of Agios Achilios consists of 11 houses, and according to a legend, if one more be built, it will collapse. The severe church of Saint Achilios is built on a hill, above the village. From here, you will have the best view of Vromolimni and the birds’ colonies. At this place, there is a path to the remains of Saint Achilios’ basilica, built in the 10th century by Tsar Samouil. Keeping on the rising path, you will arrive at the other side of the island, where there is a giant cross raised by the metropolis of Florina. Agios Achilios has been the centre of cultural manifestations “Prespia” for many years, with shows, concerts and theatrical performances by notable artists. At first, people came to the island on boats and with the help of the army, but the last years, a bridge has been created, making the coming easier.
Psarades maintains its own colour, as it is built in the end of a small bay of Megali Prespa, has got slender inhabitants and some lodgings. From Psarades, you can hire plaves (boats) in order to visit the unique paintings that are painted on the rocks (rock-paintings), as well as the ascetics’ residences in the region.
About 5km out of the village, heading south from the point where the tabernacle of Saint Georgios is situated, you will meet a region with cedars, which are exceptionally rare trees in Greece.
Agios Germanos constitutes the civic centre of the area. The village is located in the northeastern side of Mikri Prespa and is a preservable traditional settlement, built on a mountainside. There, you must visit the centre of the Association of Protection of Prespes, lodged in an old cheese-dairy at the entrance to the village, a small information centre for collecting the first information about Prespes. Its name comes from the Byzantine years, when the deposed patriarch of Constantinople, Germanos, lived there until his dying day. The word “Germanos” is used very often today as a name to the inhabitants of the region.
In Agios Germanos there are taverns, shops with handiworks and local products (peppers of Florina, beans) and some lodgings at the same traditional style with the stone houses of the village, that in combination with the excellent view of the mountain and the lake, make the settlement of Agios Germanos, one of the most beautiful destinations of the region.
At prespes area you will find rooms to let, apartments and hotels to stay scattering to the around villages of Prespes.
The region is easy of access whether through Florina via the regional road network, or through Kastoria via Egnatia, stretching the frontiers between Greece and Albania, a few kilometers before we reach Prespes.