Kastoria in 5 steps...

You will forget everything when you’re there! Really, have you ever been to Kastoria? Kastoria is one of the most beautiful, elegant cities of Greece, certainly not gaining the amount of publicity it deserves, and maybe it’s for the best! We’re visiting Kastoria, an Authentic – with a capital “A” – city! Lake Orestiada.. in Kastoria! What is the first thing you must absolutely do when you set foot in Kastoria? The lake tour! Lake Orestiada was named “Monument of Natural Beauty” by the Greek Ministry of Culture – and not without good reason. It’s called Orestiada – so what? It elegantly encircles the city of Kastoria, the two become one and magic starts to happen! A surface of 28 sq.km and 9 metres deep, the lake is blessed with the ultimate gift of nature, life! It is the home of more than 200 rare and endangered bird species. This is where they live, feed and reproduce, protected by the official network Natura 2000. Among them you’ll find beech, willow and plane trees, along with hundreds of fish species. Now you know why there are so many fishermen! Welcome to one of the most impressive European wetlands! Doltso.. as in Dolce By all means, you cannot miss the Old Town of Kastoria. Doltso, as in Dolce (=sweet)! Cobblestone streets, traditional atmosphere and magnificent architecture, reminder of the extraordinary development Kastoria experienced during the 17th and 18th centuries. Eternal landmarks, those beautiful mansions now house hotels, unique restaurants and excellent museums. Folklore, Costumes, Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, each and every one having something special to offer. Byzantine Churches Widely famous as the ground of at least 70 byzantine and meta-Byzantine churches, Kastoria is exactly what you need if you are deeply religious. Or if you simply appreciate history, folklore and art. Religious and architectural highlight? The Monastery of Panagia Mavriotissa, a true byzantine treasure. It dates back to 1802 and keeps impressing us with its timeless frescoes, looking as if they’re talking, telling us an unfinished story... The Cave of the Dragon Legends say that this cave was once a goldmine full of treasures. Guarded of course – as it was common at that time - by the mighty Dragon! The Cave of the Dragon was accidentally discovered back in the ‘50’s. So far not a word from the Dragon, however seven underground lakes, ten halls and secret passages are present and full of stalactites, adding up to the already mesmerising, out-of-this-world atmosphere of the cave! The prehistoric settlement Right at the opposite side of the lake, another precious piece of history awaits to be discovered. It’s the archaeological site of Dispilio, a Neolithic lakeshore settlement that was discovered in 1932 and has been revealing more and more secrets of our Neolithic ancestors ever since. Dispilio comprises a magnificent site that has yet to unleash all of its charm, as the excavations are still in progress. Where is Kastoria? Kastoria stands 500 km away from Athens and 195 km from Thessaloniki. When should you visit? Kastoria looks good all year round. During the winter you’ll catch the lake all frozen, ski at the nearby ski resort of Vitsi and experience Ragoutsaria, the famous winter carnival that takes place right after New Year’s. In the summertime, you’ll dance your shoes off at the River Party in Nestorio, just 22 km away, while the indescribable beauty of the lake, the city and its people fit every single season of the year. Lucky you!  

Article and photos by http://www.travelkiki.com