Starting this page I gotta claim that I’ve been asked thousand times to write about it; “But why don’t you write a page about Kozani? It’s your hometown, I’m pretty sure you’ll find something to say” “Decorate it with words and it might sound nice!”,”Talk about our nature” etc… and my response to that was always like “Well, there so many places and things to do in Greece, I think Kozani could wait a bit longer, right?”.
Right…I admit that I might have underestimated my hometown while writing about some of the most “idyllic places to visit while in Greece”; I just always thought that a city like Kozani wouldn’t attract that many people as a beautiful island would do. However while thinking on how to construct my suggestions and present this city, I’ve realised its great position on the map for an adventurous eco-touristic experience! So here we go!
Kozani Prefecture in Greece is situated in the western part of Macedonia region. Kozani has been a prosperous area in the course of its history. Its merchants once dominated in the Balkan Peninsula, expanding their trade activities to the north and along the Danube. On this journey to Northern Greece, Kozani will win your heart. Kozani is the saffron capital of Greece and since antiquity has been one of the major regions for its production in the world.
Did you know that? Use Krokos Kozanis as a spice for culinary purposes and you’ll adore its distinctive aroma, unique taste and beautiful golden colour. Nowadays, it is used in distilleries, dairy products and in numerous other applications. Its colouring power, verified by laboratory reports, is by 45 points higher than the minimum international colouring standard for all types of saffron. Infuse a few threads in a cup of water, but remember that crocus dislikes hot temperatures and it will refrain from letting you its colour and aroma if sunk into hot water.
Kozani is the capital of the regional unit of Kozani and region of West Makedonia. It’s a 1.5 hour drive from Thessaloniki and 1.5 hour drive to Ioannina. About 41.000 people live here. The city’s climate is continental with cold winters, and hot summers. In 1392, some people from Ipiros (Ioannina), chased by Turks, moved to the area, and founded the city of Kozdiani which later got the name Kozani. The area got liberated from Turks in 11 October 1912. Kozani’s Historical-Folklore-Natural History museum is located just after the central Niki (victory) square and the pedestrian zone founded in 1969. It is 6 floors high and it’s very impressive. Other great places to see are the Mansions of G. Lasanis and G. Vurkas, great men of Kozani. The Mansion of Lassanis, located on Lassani Square, is also used as the Municipal Map Library where one can find some original rare documents of the greek hero Rigas Fereos. Kozani’s Municipal Library named Kovedarios is the second biggest library in Greece after the library of Athens. The tall clock tower and the old church of Saint Nikolaos, build in 1664 can be found on the central square Niki.
The ancient city of Aiani was the most important of the kingdom of Elimeia. From the finds here, archaeologists have concluded that it was home to quite an advanced civilisation, on a par with the Mycenaeans. Start your tour at the acropolis at the top of the hill and carry on to the Necropolis, which was an important burial site from the Bronze Age to the Post-Helladic years. You can enjoy finds from the ancient city, the necropolis and the surrounding area in a modern museum a little outside Aiani.
Visit Servia, “the Mystras of Macedonia”, a breathtaking castle city on the southern part of Kozani Prefecture in Western Macedonia. This beautifully preserved Byzantine fortress and its settlement are situated at the top of a naturally fortified hill overlooking the valley of the Aliakmon River. Upon entering the castle a fascinating journey to Byzantine times begins! The impressive fortress, remarkable work of Byzantine architecture, is divided into three parts: the upper Town, the lower Town and the acropolis. The whole settlement is actually an outdoor museum. Admire the grand mansions, the Byzantine baths, the old springs, the numerous wells, and the beautiful churches of Saints Theodoroi, Saints Anargyroi and the Basilica of the Neophytes.
Velvento is one of those areas of Greece that has not been hit by commercial tourism. It is a walkers and hikers paradise, a paradise which can be enjoyed every season of the year. Its residents seem to be prepared to go the extra mile to make you enjoy your time there. Velvento is a village with about 4000 residents. As you climb the southern side of the Pieria mountain, you are surrounded by the beautiful forests, and below you the view of the Polyfitos lake enchants and calms even the most tired of eyes. Once you reach the village, you suddenly feel that history and mythology become one. The houses are distinct, having the shape of an eye on their external walls. The streets are narrow, reminding you that you are in a rural area, and along with the sound of running water and the wind rustling through the leaves, you feel that there could be no other place on earth quite as calm and as beautiful as this.
The Lake Polyphytos Bridge (Gefyra tis limnis tou Polyfytou) or the Servia - Neraida High Bridge is one of the longest bridges in Greece, with a length of 1,372 m. Construction began in 1972 along with the artificial lake and was completed in 1975. Once you arrive in the village of Neraida, you’ll have the chance to drink a coffee or have lunch/dinner in one of the many traditional cafeterias and restaurants with a breathtaking view of the lake and its magnificent bridge!
As I’ve mentioned Kozani is definitely recommended as an autumn or winter destination. If you love skiing, trekking, hiking & mountain biking, then make sure you check the activities that follow!
(* not all of the activities suggested below belong in the municipality of Kozani. There are suggestions that can be found in a short distance driving from the city of Kozani)
How could this carnival be characterized; people setting a wood fire in each neighborhood while dancing around it, eating and drinking Tsipouro or Wine. "Fanoi" is a very unique and rare tradition.. It demands a lot of preparation that is why people come together these days, they forget about their differences and they aim to have LOADS OF FUN.
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