Amfipoli, Serres, greece
Amfipoli, Serres regional unit, Greece (Credit: Itto Ogami, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Serres: Rich in history, natural beauty, culinary delights

Must-See Ancient Greek Site of Amphipolis, Lailias forest, Lake Kerkini, Alistrati cave, diverse natural tapestry, unique gastronomy

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The regional unit of Serres is part of the Region of Central Macedonia and covers a geographical region that stretches from Strymonian Gulf in the south to the Greek-Bulgarian border in the north. Its capital is the city of Serres. Unspoiled nature, important archaeological sites like Amfipoli, picturesque churches of Byzantium, traditional villages, interesting options for alternative tourism and the hospitable people will give you an unforgettable holiday. Lake Kerkini, a protected wetland habitat, rich in flora and fauna, Alistrati Cave one of the largest and most beautiful in Greece, Sidirokastro Thermal Baths, Lailias Ski Center, the15-kilometer Aggitis Gorge, the picturesque Timiou Prodromou Monastery hanging from a cliff, are just a few of the attractions waiting to be discovered. In the Regional Unit of Serres there is also Promachonas, the largest entry point of the country, from where 3.75 billion tourists entered the country in 2019.

.AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Serres Regional unit’s area: 3,968 km2 Regional unit’s population (2021): 151,124  Density: 38/km2 Time Zone: UTC+2 Climate: The southern part around the Strymonas valley has a Mediterranean climate, the rest is predominantly continental with cold winters in higher elevations.

.ADMINISTRATION

The regional unit Serres is divided into seven municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES

SERRES     AMFIPOLI     EMMANOUILPAPPAS     

IRAKLEIA    NEA ZICHNI    SINTIKI  VISALTIA

.MUNICIPALITY OF SERRES

Area: 600.5 km2 Population (2021): 76,817 Density: 130/km2 Website: https://www.serres.gr/

.HISTORY

Situated in a fertile plain at an elevation of about 70 metres, Serres is a city with a rich historical past. Although there is a reference of Herodotus to the city called Siris or Peonian dating in the 5th century BC, Serres was founded long before the Trojan War, probably at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC. Later, it is mentioned as Sirae, in the plural, by the Roman historian Livy. Since then the name of the city has remained plural. The ancient city of Serres followed the historical fate of Macedonia. It passed into the hands of the Romans, and was an important city of the Roman province of Macedonia. The Byzantines considered Serres as a metropolis (megalopolis) during the Byzantine era. Serres fell to the Ottoman Empire for the first time briefly in 1371. The Ottoman occupation ended in 1913. During the Second World War Bulgaria occupied Serres. It was liberated in 1944. Today, Serres is one of the administrative and economic centers of Northern Greece.

. POINTS OF INTEREST

Acropolis – The Tower of Orestis Koulas: This Byzantine construction was built in the 9th century AD on top of an ancient fortress of 7th century BC. It is the city’s most renowned attraction.

Lake Kerkini: This artificial lake is a rich biotope, home to more than 620 species of plants, more than 300 speices of birds and 31 species of fish. It is one of the most popular areas in Greece for bird watching.

Valley of Agioi Anargyroi (St. Anargyroi): A green part of Serres with cascades, brooks, spreading plane trees and an artificial lake, located only a short distance from the city center.

Zincirli Mosque: Built in the 16th century, it is a prominent example of Ottoman architecture.

The forest of Lailias: Around 25 km north of Serres this enchanting green lung covers around 32 km². Tall beech trees and European red pine, rich flora and fauna, rocks, attracts nature lovers all year round.
The Lailias ski centre is at a 1600 m altitude.

. GASTRONOMY

Probably the most well-known food from Serres is bougatsa (pie with fyllo pastry) usually filled with sweet cream, sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon, or cheese, or mince and spinach.
Akanes, a trademark local product, looks like Turkish delight, but it’s quite different. Dusted with icing sugar, it has an intense flavour, provided by fresh sheep and goat’s milk butter and spring water from Lailia. For meat lovers, there are buffalo meat specialties, as well as the Greek popular souvlaki (small pork pieces pushed onto a skewer, then charcoal grilled). Try also buffalo milk pasta.

.WINES

The region of Serres was reputedly a favored haunt of wine god Dionysius, There are wineries and distilleries offering tours to visitors.

.FEASTS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS

Plateia Eleftherias (Freedom Square): A festival is held from June 23 to 29 to celebrate the region’s liberation from the Bulgarians in 1213. 

Arts festival ‘Gefiroudiana’ takes place from August 20-30.

.RELIGIOUS SITES

Byzantine Church of the Saints Theodore: Built in 1124 and dedicated to Theodore of Amasea (Tyro) and Theodore Stratelates, it is the old Byzantine Cathedral of the city of Serres.

Church of St Nicholas: Another Byzantine church. It is located in the Acropolis of Serres. It was built in the 12th century.

Church of Agios Georgios Kryoneritis: One of the old Byzantine temples in Serres built at the end of the 13th century. 

Orthodox Monastery of Timiou Prodromou (St. John the Baptist): located 12 km. NE of Serres, in the bottom of a ravine on Mt Menoikion, is an important and extremely beautiful pilgrimage with impressive hagiography frescoes.

.MAJOR MUSEUMS

Archaeological Museum: Housed in the Bezesteni of Serres, a monument of the late 15th century, its collection includes exhibits that date back to an extensive period spanning from the Prehistoric era until the Byzantine times.

Serres Ecclesiastical Museum: Religious vestments, Byzantine artifacts, crucifixes, illustrated Gospels and carved chancel screens from monasteries and churches of the greater area of Serres and Nigrita.

Sarakatsani Folklore Museum: Dedicated to the history and traditions of the Sarakatsani  the native group of Greeks with the distinguish nomadic life.

.ACTIVITIES

Serres offers a plethora of outdoor activities thanks to its  rich natural environment. Go rafting, canoeing – kayaking on the Strymonas River, go skiing in the modern Lailia Ski-Centre, go hiking in the valleys of Kerkini, Fishing, boating, cycling, trail walking and climbing and horseback riding are also on offer. If you are a fan of race cars, the Serres Racing Circuit, is the largest racetrack in Greece. It was built in accordance with safety requirements of up to Formula 3 levels, on a 1.000 acre site, in 1998.

.ACCOMMODATION

Whether you are looking for a modern hotel, a traditional guesthouse or agritourism facilities Serres has something for everyone.

.TRANSPORT

Serres is located 587 km NE of Athens and 80 km NE of Thessaloniki. You can reach it by car, KTEL buses or train.


TO DO & TO GO