Kastoria is located on the western edge of Greece, is built on a peninsula in the characteristic homonymous lake, at an altitude of 703 m. Between the mountains and Vitsi and Grammos. Kastoria had periods of great prosperity due to the successful marketing and distribution of fur. Although experienced dozens of sieges and conquests from Bulgarians, Normans and Turks, still preserves a significant number of Byzantine churches, mansions and other treasures. About the name of the city, the predominant view is that it came from the beavers that lived for centuries in the lake.
The Dragon Cave
The dragon cave is located on the north side of town in the littoral region. According to local legends, many centuries ago the cave was a gold mine guarded by a dragon. Inside there are both land and water segments decorated with impressive drip, while the larger hall has dimensions 45x17 meters. Inside the Dragon cave, significant paleontological findings have found, mainly cave-bear bones, from a bear who lived in Europe 10,000 years before. Although for some time it had suspended its function, today you can visit it, during the most days of the week to discover the line between myth and reality.
One of the most beautiful lakes in Greece is the lake of Kastoria (Orestiada lake) which spread around the city. It officially characterized by the Ministry of Culture as a "Monument of Natural Beauty", and it is included in the European network of environmental protection "Natura 2000". Its area exceeds 28 square kilometers and the maximum depth reaches 10 meters. The area around the lake is a wetland of great importance as it hosts a significant number of aquatic mammals and over 150 bird species. Kastoria's lake is also the second most productive fishery in Greece. When visiting Kastoria you must certainly take a walk on the banks of the lake or a ride by boat.
The Byzantine Museum of Kastoria opened its doors in 1989 and it is located on the hilltop of the Byzantine acropolis. The exhibition presents a limited number of images, from numerous Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches of Kastoria, unique samples of ecclesiastical art. There is also a collection of sculptures, mosaics, wood carvings and other religious objects.
The Folklore Museum of Kastoria is housed in the mansion of a wealthy furrier. It was built in 1680 and exemplifies Macedonian architecture. Except the presentation of exhibits, the museum tries to visualize and simulate life on the past. On the ground floor you can see cellars for storing food in earthenware jars, while in the mezzanine you'll see the coat laboratory. Upstairs you will admire the painted ceilings and some old photographs both in the living room and in the other rooms. Finally, impressive is the secret stash in the bathroom leading to the mountain built for escape in case of attack during the Ottoman period.
You can access to Kastoria by plane through the airport "Aristotle" in Argos Orestikon, 10 km from the city center. or by bus. Access to Kastoria, can also be done with a car. The distance from Athens is 575 km, the route is beautiful but a little difficult. During the winter you'll necessarily need periodnon-slip chains deemed for crossing mountainous areas.
Kastoria does not lack any kind of entertainment. For food and drink into unique romantic environment, we recommend the lakeside cafes. Beautiful bars with good music and music cafes can also be found on the pedestrian Ermou. Though quite cold, Kastoria is an ideal winter destination, especially on days when the lake is frozen. On the Epiphany day worth go to Ragoutsaria, the most important tradition of Kastoria with costumes, music and dancing. Finally, one of the most popular festivals in Greece is the famous River Party festival at the foot of Grammos-mountain, next to the river, in a beautiful green landscape with the participation of famous artists and thousands of people from all over Greece. It take place early in July every year.
Flavors and Shopping Giude
The black beans (elephants) have been identified as a product of Protected Geographical Indication and worth trying as there are quite different from the ordinary. Edible wild mushrooms collected from the slopes of the mountain are excellent in flavor. Taste them grilled, fried, baked and in sauces. The chestnut is a tree that grows in the mountainous regions of the entire county. Try chestnuts boiled, and also as a sweet. The lake of Kastoria hosts large quantities of many species of fish as carp, pike, wels, catfish, caprate not easily found elsewhere. No one can think of the city of Kastoria without bearing in mind the furs. The art of furs construction developed from the Byzantine years, and gradually gained fame conquering the world with agencies to Europe, America and Russia. Of course you can buy these unique quality examples of local art at one of the many shops in the city, at affordable prices.