Pisoderi Florina
Mountain scenery in Vigla-Pisoderi ski center, Greece/ Photo 66022531 © Kokixx | Dreamstime.com

Florina: Outstanding natural beauty all year round

Magnificent mountains, forests and lakes, traditional villages, authentic traditions, great culture

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OVERVIEW

Florina regional unit is part of the region of Western Macedonia. The ancient name of the area is Lygistis or Lygos. From the findings of the archaeological excavations, the area was already inhabited in the middle Neolithic Period (5800 – 5300 BC). The regional unit’s capital is Florina, a picture-perfect town built in a gorge and traversed by a river, creating a waterway crossed by a number of bridges. The regional unit with a stunning landscape, magnificent lakes, picturesque lakeside villages, mountains and forests, rich biodiversity and authentic traditions is home to an impressive selection of attractions. The Prespes lakes, a wetland of international importance, the little island of Agios Achillios, the enchanting preserved traditional settlement Nymfaio at an altitude of 1,350 famous for the “Arcturos Environmental Centre”, the ski resort in Vigla with the largest run of Olympic specifications in Greece, Amyntaio, the country’s northernmost vineyard with its famous red wines, will all create an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

.AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Florina Regional unit’s area: 1,924 km2 Regional unit’s population (2021): 45,162 Density: 23/km2 Time Zone: UTC+2  Climate:  One of the first places in Greece where it snows every year. Snowfalls, sometimes heavy, thick fog and below-freezing temperatures are common during the winter months, while the summers are warm to hot. 

.ADMINISTRATION

The regional unit Florina is subdivided into 3 municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES

 FLORINA     PRESPES    AMYNTAIO

.MUNICIPALITY OF FLORINA

Area: 819.7 km2  Population (2011): 32,881  Density: 40/km2   Website: https://cityoflorina.gr/

.HISTORY

It is testified that in the 2nd half of 5th c. BC the area of Florina was ruled by the royal house of the Lygists whose mythical roots went back to Corinth, according to information coming from written sources (Herodotus, Thucydides, Strabo, Diodorus Sikeliotis) In 352 BC Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, subjugates the region and annexes it to the Macedonian kingdom. In 148 BC, Macedonia fell under the Romans and Florina fell under the 4th Province of Upper Macedonia. It later passed to Byzantine control.
During the Byzantine period, the city’s original Byzantine name, Χλέρινον (Chlérinon, “full of green vegetation”), derives from the Greek word χλωρός (chlōrós, “fresh” or “green vegetation”).
The city fell under Ottoman control and finally passed to Greece after the Balkan Wars (1912–13) after 527 years of slavery. Greeks from Florina participated in the Greek Revolution of 1821. Florina was occupied in World War Two by the Germans. On November 1, 1944, ELAS liberated the city. During the 1950s and 1960s, the area lost much of its population to emigration. Today, Florina is a modern city full of students, as its university changed in 2002 from being a branch of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, to a part of the University of Western Macedonia, reinforcing its potential.

.POINTS OF INTEREST

Dikaiosinis (Justice) Square: Well-preserved public buildings, the old prison and the Turkish Baths.

Pavlou Mela Pedestrian Street: The free of cars main street is full of cafés, bars, and taverns where you can indulge in a coffee or a delicious local specialty.

Hill of Agios Panteleimonas: Enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Here on the hill, you’ll also see a 32-metres-tall cross that is lit at night and a small church dedicated to Agios Panteleimonas.

River Sakouleva: Walk along the river on the banks of which there are architectural gems: The Second Primary School, the House of Tegos Sapountzis (the first Mayor of the City, 1912), the House of Voyiatzis -where many scenes of the film “The Beekeeper” by Theodoros Angelopoulos were filmed- and the three-storey “House of Peios”, one of the most impressive traditional mansions of Florina.

.GASTRONOMY

Exquisite local products such as Florina red peppers (D.P.O), Prespes giant beans, mountain tea, traditional sweet preserves, bukovo (dried chilli flakes) perfect for the cold, yellow potatoes of Sklithro.

.WINES & DRINKS

Locals drink on cold winter mornings a “punch” made from tsipouro and a little honey or sugar. Accompany your meals with Xinomavro red wine.

.FEASTS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Florina’s Fires: A traditional custom whose roots stretch back centuries is  attracting visitors from all over. Every year on December 23 midnight, more than thirty fires are lit. The largest fire is lit in the center of the Eroon square.  People dance, drink red wine or tsipouro (grape distilate) and have good fun. Another indispensable element of the night is ‘Fasolada’ a hot bean soup.

The Revival of the “Babaria” custom on New Year’s Day: In the village Papagiannis, the custom celebrates the awakening of the earth and fruitfulness. The central hero of the event is the bride. The “Babarias” symbolize the fertility of the earth, which “wakes up” with the sound of their bells from the “deep winter sleep”.The purpose of the “Babaria” is to protect the bride from the “evil”.

.SHOPPING

In the Municipal Market, there is a farmers’ market every Wednesday where you can pick up local produce. Don’t leave the town without buying knitwear and candles made from skillful local candle makers.

.RELIGIOUS SITES

The Holy Monastery of Saint Augustine: Founded by the late Metropolitan of Florina and renowned defender of traditional Orthodoxy Augustine Kantiotis (1907 –2010) in 1999, the holy female monastery is located at the northern entrance of the city of Florina, next to the parish church of Saint Paraskevi and the Settlement of Neofotistes.

Saint Panteleimon Cathedral Church: Built in 1972 by the late Metropolitan of Florina Augustine Kantiotis this Greek Orthodox Church has beautiful architecture.

.KEY MUSEUMS & ART GALLERIES

Archaeological Museum: On display there are finds from the excavations held at the archaeological sites of the Florina telling the story of the city and surrounding region through prehistoric, classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine times. 

Modern Art Museum: Founded by the Florina Art Centre in 1977 and housed since 2006 in an impressive neoclassical building next to the Sakoulevas river, the gallery exhibits paintings, engravings and sculptures by many great Greek artists, including Moralis, Mytaras, Tsoklis as well as foreign artists.

Art Gallery of Florina Artists: Housed in a listed building near the train station, the gallery displays more than 100 works by local artists and graduates of the Fine Arts School, which has been based here since 2006.

.ACCOMODATION

There is a wide range of accommodation options in  Florina from budget-friendly guesthouses to luxurious hotels.

.TRANSPORT

Florina is located 451 km from Athens and 169 km from Thessaloniki.  You can reach it by car, bus (KTEL) or train.


TO DO & TO GO