Northern Greek Mainland: A Visitors Guide
Greece is a land of natural forces boldly traced in fierce mountain ranges. A land blessed with a richness of flora and a wealth of people; a land where a glorious past fashioned in rock invades the present. It offers glimpses of the past in the remains from civilisations which thrived two or three millenniums ago. Evocative Delphi and Pella, home of Alexander the Great, are not just a rich tapestry of the past but are strongly woven into the fabric of the present. Bringing all this to life are the people. Life in the many towns, villages and hamlets scattered throughout the mainland seems ageless and the culture and customs are there to share. We share them with you through many feature articles throughout the book
Central Greece interior is dominated by Mount Parnassos and lesser mountains, at the southern end of the Pindos range, whilst a sprinkling of ancient fortresses and medieval castles guard the fertile plain areas at their feet. An amalgam of the wild and the beautiful where small villages hide amongst the mountains and fishing hamlets cluster along the convoluted coastline. In this setting Oedipus answered the riddle of the Sphinx and acted out the tragedy of his life but it is Delphi which draws the crowds. Today the oracle is silenced but the evocative site has regained its ancient reputation as being one of the best known in Greece.
Epirus covers the region north of Preveza to the Albanian border with the Ionian Sea to the west and the Pindos mountains forming a barrier to the east. Its isolation ensured independent development under a succession of rulers. Traces of their occupation can still be found in architecture and traditional crafts none more so than from the long period of Turkish rule. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty. The long coastline edges an interior of soaring rocky peaks and rushing rivers where villages, fashioned out of the same stone, blend anonymously into the wild terrain. Here can be found two of the most ancient oracles in Greece, the Nekromantion at Ephyra and Dodona, and the prettiest coastal resort on the mainland, Parga. On the shores of Lake Pamvotis lies Ioannina, the capital of the region, from where spectacular Katara Pass crosses the Pindos range to the high mountain village of Metsovo and the aerial monasteries of Meteora in Thessaly. This is a delightful area to tour in late spring when the snow has almost gone from the mountain tops and the roads are still relatively quiet
Western Macedonia is vibrant with mountains, verdant with forests and punctuated by lakes and pretty villages but the topography changes travelling eastwards towards Thessaloniki to a gentler landscape where cultivation increases in importance. Totally without beaches, this area is less visited than many other parts of the country but, apart from great natural beauty, it competes equally for highlights. Those featured in this book include Kastoria, delightfully situated on the neck of a peninsula which juts out into Lake Kastoria, Edessa, which boasts the best waterfalls in Greece, the ancient site of Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great, and the capital of the region, Thessaloniki
Two areas of outstanding natural beauty, Mount Olympos and Pilion, lie at opposing ends of a range of mountains which has a dominating influence on the entire region, Mount Olympos, famous for its flowers, is protected by National Park status. Litohoro, a sparkling little village, is the most convenient base to explore this region. Nearby, on the Macedonian side, is ancient Dion. Excavations in recent years have revealed temples, baths and some fine mosaics which make it a worthwhile detour.
Further south lies Pilion, another area of natural beauty with a wholly different character. It's not the mountain which is the main attraction, and Mount Pilion is significant at 1618m/5309ft, but the lushness of the wooded countryside and the delightful villages full of traditional houses.
- Traveltrendz, August 2012
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