Since I have already presented my hometown, Kozani, I decided to go a bit deeper and let you explore with me some of the hidden gems of my area. I’m pretty sure that you’re not at all familiar with the place that I’m about to present, so yeah keep reading. One of the most picturesque places that you can encounter in Greece while traveling in the Western Macedonia is Siatista..And now you’re wondering…Where is Siatista and is it a place worth visiting while in Greece? So here I am, let's explore Siatista!
(*To make it clear and avoid misunderstandings- by using the term Macedonia, I refer to the geographic region of Greece in the southern Balkans- not to the Republic of Macedonia!)
Location; One of the most traditional towns in the prefecture of Kozani! Siatista is located in the western part of the prefecture, 30 kilometers (19 mi) southwest of Kozani city. Siatista lies on the slopes of Mount Siniatsiko at 920 meters (3200 ft) altitude. From the 17th to the 19th century Siatista experienced a prosperity that is clearly recognizable by the mansions that are everywhere. It consists of two continuing large neighbourhoods "Gerania and Hora".
The narrow paths give you the impression that you have been trapped in an isolated place enclosed around bare mountains.
Getting around: The drive from Thessaloniki is approximately 145 kilometers (1-1/2-2 hours) by car on the Egnatia Odos highway. There are tolls and tunnels along the route, so have change ready and be prepared to remove sunglasses frequently along with way.
No. 1 - Siatista was build in the early 15th century from the nearby residents, who seeked for a shelter to keep them safe from the Otoman raids. People from Moschopoli, Thessaly, Souli, Morias and other places joined them during the ages.
No. 2 - Siatistas name is rumored to have derived from the Slavic "setsiam" (=deviding) and the suffix - ista (=a place divided). This version might describe the division of Siatista in two neighborhoods, "Gerania" and "Chora" which are now united.
No. 3 - Siatista became very rich during 17ο, 18ο and 19ο century due to immigrants sending back forreign currency, to wine and raki production which were famous products, to textile making, shoe making and fur making. Siatista had commercial relationshops with Russia, Budapest, Vienna and Venice.
No. 4 - The economic growth also benefited the development of art and culture. The most impressive Country Houses were built at that period indicating the wealth of the city, the aesthetics of the people and the abilities of the craftsmens and builders.
Siatista’s history as a fur trading center runs deep. Regardless of contemporary Western disdain for fur, local business titans have contributed generously to the construction of schools, libraries, museums and other municipal facilities. While fur and leather production remains a big part of Siatista’s economy, another longtime industry—winemaking—is rapidly growing here. With its high elevation (approximately 3,000 feet above sea level), Siatista’s terrain make it an ideal location for cultivating grapes.
Suggestion for the wine lovers!;
Stop to Dio Fili Winery (which in English means two friends). The primary goal of their estate is the qualitative revival of the historic winery of Siatista with the creation of a visitable modern winery with small capacity and an architecture that refers to Siatistino mansion. Following the traces of the long tradition of the area combined with modern oenological techniques and ideas, it began operations in 2007 with the first attempt in winemaking. Dio Fili is open to the public and constitutes a key part of the “wine roads.” Wine tasting and tours are available by appointment. One of the winery’s most popular exports to the U.S. is the Rose Xinomavro, which I can attest is sensational.
In 18th and 19th century Siatista experienced a tremendous economic prosperity due to trades with Western Europe. This contact with the European culture led to the intellectual and social development of the residents of Siatista as well as to the development of the arts and especially architecture which is reflected on the mansions of Siatista and the post-Byzantine churches. The mansions of Siatista are fine examples of 18th century architecture and were built by Epirus and Macedonian craftsmen. They are two-storey houses with courtyards surrounded by impregnable walls with battlements.
In the interior they are spacious and richly decorated with Venetian-glazed windows, stained glass, carved wooden ceilings, carved inscriptions and beautiful frescoes. In the churches of Siatista you can admire the excellent woodwork of their iconostasis and the paintings of great representatives of the Cretan School!
On the morning of August 15th, the day of the Assumption of Mary, Siatista’s inhabitants parade with their horses down to a chapel across the Via Egnatia highway to a smaller chapel. Following church services they parade back with an Icon of the Panagia. A town party on the streets ensues where men dance on the backs of their horses and local wine flows freely. The tradition has been conducted for more than 300 years.
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