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The old Agios Athanasios in Pella – the stone village

15 December 2013 / 14:12:49  GRReporter
5109 reads

It is called "the old" ("Palios" in Greek) because its inhabitants left it in the 1980s and moved to the new settlement of Agios Athanasios, which was built near the old one. But the beauty of the old village and the establishment of Kaimaktsalan winter ski resort helped it live again and be declared a protected area.

A breath away from the Greek border with the Republic of Macedonia, at an altitude of 1,200 m, at the foot of Mount Kaimaktsalan (the third highest mountain in Greece), north of Vegoritida Lake, you will find the traditional village of Agios Athanasios.

The village is developing fast as a tourist centre because of its proximity to Kaimaktsalan ski resort. It offers many modern taverns and cafes, as well as modern places to stay. It is only 30 km from Edessa and 120 km from Thessaloniki.

A small village, a long history

Agios Athanasios was built in the late 16th century by breeders and builders from Epirus and was under the control of Ali Pasha of Ioannina, who granted many privileges to its inhabitants who had self-government. Moreover, remains of dwellings and fortifications from the Roman and Byzantine periods have been discovered in the area, because of the location of the village on the Via Egnatia.

After World War II, the population of the village decreased, since many of its residents left to live abroad and an asphalt road to Edessa was built as late as in the 1970s.

In the 1980s, the village of Neos Agios Athanasios (the “New” Agios Athanasios) was established 6 km from Palios Agios Athanasios, more on the plain, since the old village was declared geologically unsafe after several earthquakes. The old village was abandoned completely at the time, until the mid-90s, when hotels were built and tourist activity has been developed because of Kaimaktsalan ski resort.

The stone village

Palios Agios Athanasios is also known as "the stone village" because of its Macedonian architecture characterised by stones, wood and much less metal. As with most mountain villages in Macedonia, the geometrical location of the village is unorganised.

The village was declared traditional in 1992 and has developed in terms of tourism since 1995, when Kaimaktsalan ski resort was inaugurated. New constructions and the restoration of old ones follow local architecture precisely without breaking the harmony. Many local people and businessmen from Thessaloniki, for example, choose the old village for permanent residence and occupation in agricultural and tourist activities.

The beautiful picturesque stone streets of the village will impress you, and you can also enjoy many landmarks.

And when low temperatures make you hungry, choose one of the warm taverns in order to taste special Macedonian dishes, selected local dairy and meat specialties, such as deer, wild boar or pig roast in an earthenware dish, and many others. And of course, combine them with local brandy or wine.

The magical location of the village makes it a base for skiers from the ski resort, as well as for other activities such as hiking, horseback riding, 4Χ4 off-road, as well as boating in Vegoritida Lake.

Kaimaktsalan ski resort

Voras (or Kaimaktsalan) winter resort is located in the eponymous mountain, at an altitude of 2,020 - 2,480 metres, at a distance of 10 km from Palios Agios Athanasios, 45 km from Edessa, 139 km from Thessaloniki and 660 km from Athens. There are 6 lifts and 13 ski-slopes with a total length of 15 km.

It is usually open from December to early May, and is one of the few ski resorts in Greece with such a long winter season, suitable for skiing.

Kaimaktsalan Forest is an important reserve and area of outstanding natural beauty, which is recognised as a protected zone of Natura 2000 and involved in Corine Land Cover.

How to get there

Palios Agios Athanasios is about 600 km from Athens and 125 km from Thessaloniki. From southern Greece, take the Thessaloniki - Katerini highway. After Katerini leave at the exit to Janica - Edessa. In Edessa, you will find a diversion to Kaimaktsalan ski resort, which will take you to Palios Agios Athanasios. 

Tags: Palios Agios Athanasios Pella traditional village ski resort Kaimaktsalan
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