INTRODUCTION
The Municipality of Nestorio is located in Western Macedonia close to the city of Kastoria. It consists of 4 Municipal entities, which are: the Municipal Entity of Akrites (consisting of the local communities of Dipotamia, Komninades, Polyanemou, Chionatou), the Municipal Entity of Arrenes (consisting of the local communities of Eptachori, Zouzouli, Chrysi), the Municipal Entity of Grammos (consisting of the local community of Grammos) and the Municipal Entity of Nestorio (consisting of the local communities of Kotyli, Kypseli, Nestorio, Ptelea)

 

Geophysical map of contiguous regions Nestorio – Korce

The Municipality is characterized by the mountainous landscapes, the rich vegetation, the high mountains with alpine landscapes and lakes, the river “Aliakmonas”, that runs through the area, the unspoiled landscapes, the traditional villages, the special local traditions and the modern history related to the mountain ‘Grammos’.
The district of Korce is located in southeastern Albania. It includes three cities and towns: Korce, the center of the area, Bilisht and Maliq, and 27 communities. The city of Korce is one of the main cities of Albania.

Map of Korce
High mountains, beautiful lakes, rivers, natural attractions, beautiful villages and also rich cultural resources, churches, museums, art galleries with collections of sculptures and local traditions, characterize the area of Korce.
The distance between the two municipalities is very short (Nestorio - Korce 109 km), the landscape in both regions is impressive, the two municipalities constitute an alternative destination that will enchant every visitor who is looking for “experiences” in nature and authenticity.

MUNICIPALITY OF NESTORIO

NATURE
Features of Nature
Mountains

Grammos is a beautiful mountain with alpine forests, beautiful lakes, rare flora and fauna. It is located on the border between Greece and Albania. Grammos is the connecting point between Western Macedonia and Epirus and also between Greece and the neighboring Albania. The summit of Grammos is at an altitude of 2.520 meters, and it is the fourth highest mountain in Greece.

 View of the summit of Grammos in summer

Grammos belongs to the mountain range of Pindos. The mountain is dominated by rocky slopes, high and impressive peaks, impetuous torrents, many springs and mountain lakes, rare flora and fauna. Grammos is among the most important bird and bear sanctuaries and is part of the Natura 2000 network.

Lake ‘Moutsalia’ (on the left) and the canyon of ‘Aliakmonas’ (on the right)

The two rivers Aliakmonas and Sarandaporos spring from Grammos. Also, the alpine lakes of Gkistova and Arrenes (called Moutsalia, Drakolimnes, respectively) are located on the mountain.

 Lake ‘Drakolimni’ located in the area of ‘Arrenes’

It is an ideal destination for those looking for an unforgettable experience in nature. It is one of the less developed mountains in Greece, which contributes significantly to its uniqueness. On the edge of the mountain, there is a landscape of unique beauty with green fields, flowing waters and rare natural beauty.

Traditional Villages of Kypseli (left) and Kotyli (right)

Grammos offers amazing hiking trails through its picturesque villages, called “Grammochoria” (Pefko, Pefkofyto, Chrysi, Aetomilitsa, Grammos). It is a magnificent mountain, a mountain that all nature lovers would enjoy.
Voio is also a mountain of Pindos range (Northern Pindos), almost untouched by the modern world. A large part of Voio lies in the area of Kastoria and the rest in the area of Kozani. The mountain begins from Nestorio, crosses the area of Pentalofos - Tsotyli and ends just outside the city of Grevena.

The location of Profitis Ilias on the top of the mountain of Voio.

The mountain reaches an attitude of 1,800 meters, its length is 45 km. Its most part is covered with forests of oak, beech and chestnut.
The highest part of Voio is the ridge north of Aghios Ilias Zoupaniotis to Pyrgos of Kotyli. Voio and Grammos form together the valley of Sarantaporos. To the mount of Voio belongs the mountainous area of Ontria, as well as the complex of Avgerinos - Morfi - Tsotyli, which descends to the south, from Avgerinos to the area of Grevena.
The western slopes are very steep, while the east ones are smoother. On the eastern slopes of the mountain there are many villages and a large network of trails which, the old days, were used to the connection between the villages.
Voio is known for its craftsmen and for the typical local architecture of stone buildings, - houses, bridges and water mills -. There are many names which could represent Voio, such as "The Mountain of the stone craftsmen", "The Mountain of the stone villages and bridges." It could also be called "The Mountain of the Paths" since they are too many. The paths (the famous "Pazarostrates") began and ended in Tsotyli, where the old days a famous bazaar took place.

 Stone Chapel, constructed by local craftsmen (Voio)

Voio is a green mountainous area, an ideal place for nature lovers and those who want to wander around the beautiful small villages.

Rivers
The river Aliakmonas runs through the area. It is the longest river (310 km) of Greece which also springs from Greek territory (from the mountains of Grammos and Voio). It runs through several areas of Macedonia (Kastoria, Grevena, Kozani, Imathia) and flows into the Thermaikos Gulf, forming a delta that hosts important habitats.

Panoramic view of the river “Aliakmonas” at the location of the “River Party” of Nestorio

According to one version, the name “Aliakmon”, comes from the ancient Greek words “als” (“άλς”) (salt sea) and “akmon” (“άκμων”) (anvil). According to the Greek mythology, Aliakmon was one of the “River Gods”, child of Oceanus and Tethys.
Some torrents and tributaries of the river Aliakmonas are: Grammos, Stravopotamos, Pramoritsa, Grevenitikos, Venetikos, Sarantaporos, Tripotamos and others.
In Aliakmonas live 33 species of fish. Of these, about 30 are native. Many of them are considered rare and one of them, the “Pachychilon macedonicum” does not live anywhere else in the world. Other fish found in Aliakmonas is the carp and the rainbow trout while in the estuaries there are few eels.
Moreover, 215 different bird species have been observed in the area. Among them, the pelican and the curlew, considered as the rarest birds in the world.
Visitors can tour around the area near the banks of Aliakmonas and admire the rare natural beauty of the river or go even fishing. The more adventurous can try activities such as rafting, canoeing or kayaking.
The river contributes significantly to the development of the region.
Lakes
The alpine lake Gistova is located at an altitude of about 2.350m on Grammos mountain. The landscape around the lake is of unique beauty, as it extends to the alpine meadows.

Lake Moutsalia (on the left ) and Lake Gistova (on the right)

A little further, in the area of “Arrenes”, at an altitude of 1730 m. (an area with dense beech forests), the double mountain lake “Moutsalia” lies. Also, in the same area two other lakes called “Drakolimnes” are located. The first “Drakolimni” is a small and shallow lake. Here lives an aquatic species of Alpine newt (the locals call it "fish with legs"). The second Drakolimni is at a high altitude, right on the borders between Greece and Albania and it is accessible only by hiking from the village of “Grammos”.

Flora
Dense forests cover the biggest part of the mountain “Grammos”. However, there are sparse forests, meadows and small cultivated areas, also 487 plant species have been recorded in the area of which 21 are endemic.
The main vegetation zones in the area are:
Riparian vegetation: The willows form natural "galleries". There are also many quite rare species of trees such as maples, elms and lindens.
Oak Zone: Various types of oaks, with other deciduous trees, form shrubs or forests over the streams of the mountain of Grammos.

View of a pine forest (on the left) and of a beech forest (on the right)

Zone of black pine and beech: The forests of black pine start at an altitude of 1000m., even higher (in the area of “Arrenes”) start the forests of beech. Firs are found only in some cooler and wet areas. At higher altitudes grows the Pinus heldreichii (or leucoderma larch) the most durable coniferous tree of “Pindos”.

View of Alpine meadows on ‘Grammos’.

Higher up, forests become thinner and eventually stop. Snow is covering the ground for several months each year, the cold and the wind hinder the growth of even the most resistant trees. Alpine meadows are formed, perhaps the most distinctive, extensive and beautiful meadows in the country. These alpine meadows are home to plants and wildflowers, which are rare for Greek standards.
Mountain Voio is one of the most forested areas in Greece, covered 80% of trees. Black pine, beech, Macedonian fir, oak, chestnut, gabbros, and bushes cover the valleys and the slopes of the mountain. In and around villages there are many walnut, cedar trees, hazels, dogwoods, quince, apple trees, willows, cherry trees, pear trees, alder, poplars and almond trees. Moreover, in the area also grow endemic wildflowers and many different plant species such as anemones, orchids, wild saffron, tea, and julep. Mountain Voio is also best known in Greece for its mushrooms the “kalogerakia”, the royal mushrooms, the “kokkinouskes”, the “zarkadisia”, the true morels and also the truffles.

Fauna

Naturally, the rich and diverse flora of the area is accompanied by a rich and varied fauna.

On Grammos small herds of wild goats are found, which are able to survive at high altitudes (even higher than the alpine meadows) along the steepest slopes and the most remote tree clusters.

Golden Eagle, one of the largest birds of prey in the area of Grammos.

At lower altitudes, in the forests, in the meadows and the fields live bears, deer, wild boars, hares, few wolves, wildcats and many other small mammals.
Mount Voio is an important biotope for all big wildlife mammals found in Greece, such as wolves, foxes, squirrels, deer, wild boars, bobcats, rabbits and brown bears.
In the rivers of the area, many different species of fish are found: trout, “tsironia” (roach), ‘gourounomytes’ (nase), ‘gyftopsara’ (gupsy fish) and eels etc. In the area of Grammos lives quite a large number of species of birds, 142 in number. Among them, 21 species of raptors are included. Such species are the goshawk (which is rare), the montagu's harrier, the red-footed falcon, the golden eagle, the osprey and even the small Egyptian vulture.
In Voio, the rich ecosystem consisting of forests, rivers, meadows, rocks and residential areas, contributes to the presence of a remarkable birdlife. 97 bird species live in that ecosystem.
Yet, in another category of the rich fauna of Grammos, namely in the category of reptiles and amphibians the newts are found the newts, called the "fishes with legs".

The Greek brown bear, that lives in the wider area of Pindos

The brown bear – A priority of protected species. It is the symbol of Pindos mountains and particularly of Grammos mountain. The brown bear is the tallest wild mammal that lives in the European mountains. The height of an adult animal may reach the 1 m., its length the 2 m., while its weight ranges from 70 up to 350 kg (males). A bear lives normally around 20 to 25 years. Brown bears are considered animals with great intelligence, good memory, prudence, and curiosity.
The local population on Mount Grammos and the surrounding areas is calculated to be 30 bears. The above number is organically connected to both the subpopulation of Pindos and the smaller subpopulations in the Albanian side.
The Grammos’ bears prefer to feed on plant origin food (85%) and need large amounts of food.
They feed on all kinds of available fruits of the forest: blackberries, damsons, cherries, apples, pears, raspberries, fruits, rosehip fruit, wild strawberries, acorns, beech nuts, and tubers, roots, and greens. They also eat honey, small and large mammals, insects (mainly ants) and turtles.
Bears territory usually covers a few hundred square kilometers large. Bears move cautiously, especially after sunset, avoiding unwanted encounters with humans. However, a visitor can see, instead of the animals themselves, the traces of their presence: paw imprints in the mud or water puddles, broken branches of fruit trees (probably showing the young bears to eat along with their mothers), overturned rocks (when bears are in search of insects) and broken tips of small pine trees (where bears mark their territory).

Sights of Nature

Forests of firs, pines, oaks and cedar trees, ravines as well as wild rock formations and cliffs alternate harmoniously with valleys and meadows, hills, streams and torrents.

All the above compose a landscape of incomparable beauty and form the natural scenery of Nestorio. Apart from the majestic mountains of Grammos and Voio, and all the lakes and rivers, there are also several unique monuments of nature await visitors to discover them.

The artificial lake Pamoritsa in the area of Voio

In the area of Grammos the virgin forest “Barouga” is also located, a forest of beech, fir and black pine with open pastures. It has a special ecological, scientific and aesthetic value and has also been declared as a “Monument of Nature”.

Panoramic view of Barouga forest

In the area of Nestorio, at the site of the “Kastro” (the Castle), the view of the landscape is of incomparable beauty.  “Kastro” is a natural acropolis and at the same time, an archaeological site on the east side of the village.

The natural acropolis of Nestorio, “Kastro” (Castle)

The location of Red Rock of Pegasus at the entrance of Nestorio

The Red Rock of Pegasus, is located at the entrance of Nestorio. According to a myth, its color came from the blood of the winged horse (Pegasus) that after being blinded by Zeus, fell there. Another tradition says that the cave at the base of the rock, was once the lair of a huge serpent that guarded the area.

A series of impressive vertical rocks dominate just above the ruins of old Kotyli. These enormous rocks are also known as the cliffs of “Haros” (Death) and they continue towards Kypseli. The rocks, with the characteristic gray shades of the rocks of Voio, are 300 meters high and are truly breathtaking. Underneath, a wooded hillside of pines continues to the edge of the village. The back side of the cliffs is covered with dense forests of beech going lower down, in the area of Nestorio. The highest altitude is 1,627 meters.

The precipice of the cliffs of ‘Death’ (300 meters)

The impressive canyon of Aliakmonas, consists of steep slopes covered with beautiful vegetation, while the river is forming amazing meanders of water.

Autumn view of the canyon of Aliakmonas

The waterfall, at the monastery of “Taxiarches of Tsouka” close to Aghia Anna (St. Anna) and to the valley of “Stena” (Straits) is very beatiful.

Panoramic view of the waterfall in the area of “Tsouka” close to the village “Aghia Anna”

The peak of “Alevista” is a natural observatory. From there the view of the mountains of Smolikas and Olympus is fantastic, especially when the atmosphere is clear.

The  hospital of partisans in the area of “Katafiki” in Grammos mountain

The large cave on Grammos at “Katafiki” close to the the top of Vertenik, was used as a temporary hospital for the partisans during the civil war. However, the cave is difficult to access.

Swimmers at the River Party, in summer

The area of the “river party” in Nestorio, is an ideal destination for organized tours of groups, associations, schools, unions and tourists. The area next to the river is very beautiful; there is also the possibility of many and different activities as well as the possibillity of eating or drinking at the restaurants and cafes located in the area.

A concert in the area of the River Party

Trails – Routes in Nature

Wooden bridge, view from trails in the area of Grammos.

“The bear” trail

The “bear trail” is a circular hiking mountain trail on the Mountain of Grammos and in particularly on the hills north and west of Nestorio.

The main purpose of the trail is to provide to the visitor some basic information about the bear, its habits, the problems posed by its coexistence with humans, and also about the area’s nature and history.

For this purpose, the path has been planned in such a way as to pass through various habitats important to bears and other wildlife. The trail passes through forests of beech and oak, mountains, meadows, farming areas, mountain streams, abandoned crops and orchards. The route includes existing old roads between the old villages, modern agricultural and forest roads and forest paths. Throughout its length, a hiker can notice significant traces of bear and other mammals (wild boar, deers, wolves, etc).

Hiking organized by the ecological organization of Callisto

The route doesn’t  present significant difficulties. The slopes are relatively small and the trail in its greater length is wooded.

The trail has a total length of 10.2 km.

The first section of the trail (3.95 km), starts from Nestorio and ends at “Ammorema”. The hiker walks on rural dirt roads in an livestock area, with woodland and meadows. At the start of the route the visitor meets sheepfolds and a faucet that was used for watering animals. The route follows the old road Nestorio - Ammouda - Alevitsa, the main road axis of Grammos that connects the central to the north part of the mountain. In some parts the route follows the new forest road, while in others, the old road, where there are still traces of the old cobbled path.

The second part of the route (1.2 km) starts from Ammorema and follows a forest trail through a beech forest. The trail has a significant upward slope and follows in some sections the old cobbled path.

In the third part of the route (1.98 km), the trail follows the old, rocky, forest road towards the old village, in an area which is dominated by beech forests and some other species (fir, black pine). This part has the most feeding sources for bears and wildlife. Here the visitor will notice the most animal tracks and traces. In the old village ‘Orsets’ where this part of the route ends, visitors will see a tap, ruins of houses and fruit trees (walnut, hazelnut, chestnut, sloes etc).

The fourth and last part of the route (3.25 km) is a well-designed trail from the old village to the current provincial road, Nestorio - Pou. At the start of this route, the ruins of the small church of the old village are found in an open meadow and the trail continues through oak forests and meadows. This route offers a great view of Nestorio in many parts of its way. The return to Nestorio could be either from the asphalt road or by the river, where the "River Party" takes place.

Apart from the above circular route, a part of the old path has been cleared (1.23 km), which leads northwest from the site of the old village and specifically from the tap to the current forest road that connects Nestorio with the northern part of the mountain of Grammos.

Trail  “River Party – Kontari”

The starting point of the trail is located near the facilities of the River Party, on the north side of the river bank, where an old path started. The trail parallels to the north bank of the river Aliakmonas, into the forest towards the old bridge of the provincial road Ioannina - Kastoria. The trail continues over the bridge and follows a parallel route to the old provincial road for 177 meters. From that point the route ascends, following an old path, until it parallels to the southern bank of Aliakmonas. The trail passes along the northern slope of Mountain Voio and then descends again to the river bank till the dining facilities in the ‘River Party’ area and the bridge. Actually, it is a closed path where the starting point is also the end.

The total length of the trail is 3,650 meters.

The average walking time of the route is estimated at 1 - 1 ½ hours and the level of difficulty is easy to intermediate. The main part of the path does not have a high level of difficulty. The suggested period on walking the trail is the whole year but always depending on weather conditions.

The main forest species on the trail are: broadleaf and downy oak, gabbro, ash, maple, dogwood, “paliouri”, wild pear, while on the riversides of Aliakmonas grow several trees and willows.

Trail: “Nestorio - Tsouka (Old Monastery of Taxiarches)”

The starting point of this trail is a dirt road which connects the area “Stena” (Straits) with Nestorio. This trail is an old mule path that once was followed by residents of Nestorio, going on a pilgrimage to the old Monastery of Taxiarches, where today the chapel of “Zodohos Pighi” (the Life Giving Spring) stands.

The total path length is 1.740 meters.

Trail: Nestorio - Tsouka (Old Monastery of Taxiarches)

The average walking time of the route is estimated at 50 minutes to 1 hour and the level of difficulty is intermediate. The main part of the path does not have a high level of difficulty. The suggested period on walking the trail is the whole year but always depending on weather conditions.

The main forest species of the trail are: leaved oak and downy, gabbro, ash, maple, dogwood, “paliouri”, wild pear, while on the riversides of Aliakmonas grow several trees and willows.

Route by car: Nestorio - National Reconciliation Park (NRP)

It is a very beautiful route about 30km long, starting from Nestorio and leading to the National Reconciliation Park (NRP), shortly after the village ‘Pefko’. The NRP, as presented later in this guide, is a journey through the history and knowledge of the area.

View of the guest house in the National Reconciliation Park (NRP)

On this route, the visitor is directed to the area where the “River party” takes place and then continues straight ahead following the canyon of Aliakmonas until the village “Pefko”. After the village “Pefko”, the visitor doesn’t turn right on the village Grammos but continues straight ahead and seven kilometers farther, turns left at an intersection where a well mantained road starts (4 km long), which leads to the NRP.

The visitor can return from the NRP following the road that leads to “Kotyli”, this route is shorter but it includes 8-9 kilometers on dirt road. This route offers the opportunity to visit the impressive landscape that the cliffs "Haros" compose.


Route by car: Peuko - Myrhoblitis - Pefkofyto

Following the above route, visitors can continue driving on an ashpalt road to the village Pefkofyto. The route and the villages are very beautiful.

4x4 Routes by car:

There are several very interesting routes, such as:

  • Nestorio - Glykoneri - Pefko - Lianotopi - Vertenik - Grammos. Return: Grammos - Lianotopi - Trilofos - Monopylo - Giannochori - Livadotopi - Nestorio. This route is approximately 82 Km, requires a 4x4 vehicle and lasts from 2-3 hours depending on weather conditions.
  • Nestorio - Kotyli - Haros - National Reconciliation Park - Myrhoblitis - Arrenes - Aetomilitsa. Return: Arrenes - Sgouros - Lianotopi – Ikonisma Panagias (Icon of Virgin Mary) - Pefko - Nestorio. This route is approximately 115 Km, requires a 4x4 vehicle and lasts from 4-5 hours depending on weather conditions.

Screenshot of a 4x4 route (Nestorio - Pefko - Myrhoblitis - Pefkofyto - Xrysi – Eptahori)

  • Nestorio - Pefko - Myrhoblitis - Pefkofyto - Chrysi - Eptahori - Zouzouli. Return Zouzouli - Eptahori - Kypseli - Kotyli - Nestorio. This route is about 135 Km requires 4X4 car (half of the route is on asphalt road) and lasts from 4-5 hours depending on weather conditions.

Other Activities in Nature

The international trail E6 crosses the mountain of Grammos and it is a perfect tail for hiking through dense forests and along the banks of rivers. In the area there is a whole network of trails, among them several stoned paths that connect the settlements. The trails are marked and help visitors to explore the area.

On Grammos and Voio most forest roads are ideal for mountain biking.

In Nestorio and the wider area many interesting activities are offered such as rafting and canoeing in the river Aliakmonas.

Alpinism during the event “WALKING”

Sports activity during the event “WALKING”

A canoeing team in the Aliakmonas river

Culture

Myths and Traditions

According to a myth, Nestor, the son of Agamemnon, founded Nestorio, while his brother Orestes, founded the Argos Orestikon, a bit further.

Also, according to an old tradition Alexander the Great went in Nestorio, still a teenager, when his father Philip II sent him in the area to be trained in the art of war in the rough hillsides of Grammos.

Historical Monuments

The “Kastro”, (Castle) of  Nestorio is located at an altitude of about 1000 meters. In ancient times its role was extremely important as protecting the surrounding area from the various attacks.

The stone bridge of “Zouzouli”

The stone bridge of “Old Kotyli”

The stone bridge of “Eptahori”

Stone bridges, are found in various villages such as:

  • The stone bridge in “Eptahori”, built in 1900, located in the village.
  • The stone bridge in “Kousoumbli”, built in the late 16th century located in the “Zouzouliotiko” river.
  • The stone bridge in “Zouzouli”, built in 1880 and located just outside the village “Zouzouli”.
  • The stone bridge in “Old Kotili”, built in the 19th century.

Some of these (such as the two bridges of “Old Zouzouli”) were characterized as works of art and historical monuments, because they present the evolution of the local folk architecture and of the bridge construction, in an area where West Macedonia meets Epirus.

The Watermill in Nestorio. Visitors should see the unique old watermill of the 19th century. It is a mill with two millstones and with watermills, which has been restored to its original form.

 Panoramic view of the old watermill in Nestorio

The National Reconciliation Park (NRP) of Grammos operates under the authority of It operates under the authority of the Parliament Foundation regarding Parliamentary and Democracy, an organization which undertakes numerous training and educational activities. The operation of the NRP began in early July of 2012. It was created with the aim to contribute to a culture of cooperation and of peaceful coexistence among young people around the world.
 
It is located at an altitude of 1450 meters, in a wooded alpine landscape.

The National Reconciliation Park additionally to its contribution to the understanding of the historical past of the area, it also contributes to the informing and the training of visitors about the natural environment and the species of the rich flora and fauna of the mountain of Grammos.

At the NRP, there is a photographic exhibition of historical content "Grammos: Routes in History", where the major historical events that marked the Greek history of the 20th century are presented in detail. Such historical events are the Macedonian Struggle, the Balkan Wars, the First & the Second World War and also the Italian-German Occupation. In the exhibition, special emphasis is given on the causes and the final outcome of the civil war.

Furthermore, visitors can tour around the exhibition “Grammos: Routes in Nature”, where they can admire images of some of the most distinctive and beautiful landscapes of this mountainous area as well as photographs of flower species, butterflies, birds and animals that live there.

There are also especially designed rooms where documentary films about the history and the natural environment of the area are shown.

In addition to the two exhibitions, the NRP includes a library with about 1200 books, which focus mainly on the contemporary history and the natural environment. There are also computers that allow web browsing.

In the conference hall, with a capacity of 100 people, events by universities, associations or other operators can be hosted.

In NRP operates a restaurant-café and a guest house with 12 rooms, the management of which has been taken over by the Women’s Association of Nestorio called “Flavors of Grammos”.
 
Finally, it is possible to visit the NRP every day. However, from Monday to Friday it would be better to precede a phone call in order to confirm that the restaurant and the guest house are open.

Religious Monuments
In Nestorio there are two remarkable religious monuments, the church of Pammegisti Taxiarches - a basilica church built in 1858, with a magnificent wood carved iconostasis – and the church of ‘Koimisi tis Theotokou’ (Assumption) – the oldest church of the village which has a polygonal stone belfry, old icons and many religious books of the 18th and 19th century (built in 1816).
In Aghia Anna (St. Anna), in a distance of 7 kilometers from Nestorio, there is the Monastery of Taxiarches (Tsouka), which has taken its name from the homonymous abandoned village that is located a little northern. It is a historical Monastery dating around the 13th century. Additionally, it has a special historical value because it is a unique monument of post-Byzantine architecture (stone carving). The Monastery of Taxiarches (Tsouka) was declared, in 1961, by the Ministry of Culture as a listed monument. It is built on a huge rock, over a tributary of Aliakmonas, at a point where a beautiful waterfall is formed.

Panoramic view of the Monastery of Taxiarches (Tsouka)

In Ptelea, the church of Aghios Dimitrios (St. Demetrius) was declared as a listed monument by the Ministry of Culture. The church is a basilica, decorated with frescoes, which are pieces of art dating in the 19th century. In the same area, the church of Aghios Nikolaos (Petritis), (St. Nicholas) was also declared as a historical listed monument. This is a rare architectural Byzantine church that founded in 1417.
In the area of Linotopi, (close to the village Grammos) there is the Monastery of Aghios Zacharias, an impressive monument which is built in the forest. It was declared as a historical listed monument by the Ministry of Culture. It is a monument of the Ottoman period with frescoes of the 17th century, which had been painted by local painters.
In Slimnitsa, the abandoned Monastery of Aghios Georgios (St. George) (a historical listed monument), the church of Aghios Christoforos (St. Christopher), as well as the church of Koimisi tis Theotokou (Assumption), (1743) in the upper part of the village, and the church of  Aghios Athanasios (1874) in the lower part of the settlement, are preserved.
In Pefko there is the Monastery of Zoodohos Pigi (the Life Giving Spring), in a majestic landscape.
In Giannochori, the church of Koimisi tis Theotokou (Assumption) is the only one with a double Gynaeceum in the Balkans and it is distinguished of its elaborate wood carved iconostasis.

The chapel of Aghios Nikolaos (Petritis), (St. Nicholas), in Ptelea 

The Monastery of Aghios Zacharias in the area of Linotopi, near Grammos

The church of Aghios Athanasios, in Trilofos

The church of Pammegistoi Taxiarches in Nestorio

 In Giannochori, the church of Koimisi tis Theotokou (Assumption)

Museums
The Municipal Museum of Nestorio is under construction.

Traditional Events and Festivals
Many events are organized in the villages of the Municipality of Nestorio, celebrations, cultural events and themed events. The most popular event organized in the area is the “River Party”.
At Nestorio, the day of the celebration of the Holy Spirit, there are great feasts with music and dancing at the beautiful chapel of the Holy Trinity at the Castle.  Another feast takes place on the 15th of August every year at the Church of the Assumption in Lower Nestorio. Another reason for visiting Nestorio might be the traditional carnival of Nestorio, held every year on January 1st and 2nd.
At Kotyli every summer on July 20, a celebration takes place at the church of Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias), which is organized by the local Association of people of Kotyli.
At Ptelea, on 20th May each year cultural events are organized by the Association of “Saint Nicholaos”, on the celebration of Aghios Nikolaos (Petritis) (St Nicholas).
At Kranochori, Christmas Eve is celebrated with the lighting of the "boubouna" (fire shaped like a pyramid) and the offering of local dishes (“tsigarides” and plenty of local wine). Also on July 1st, a folk festival is organized in honor of the patrons of the village (“Aghioi Anargyroi”).
At Pefko and Kypseli on July 26, is celebrated the patron of the two villages, who is Aghia Paraskevi. Many cultural events are organized in the area by local cultural organizations.
At Giannochori, Monopylo, Livadotopi and Slimnitsa, a big celebration takes place in mid-August. These villages of the mountain Grammos are uninhabited during the winter, but in the summer they become crowded as people originating from the area come to spend their summer there.
Events of ‘The Friends of the Forests’. The municipality of Nestorio every year (after the summer of 2007 when a part of the mountain Grammos had been burned) organizes two -day events in order to raise public awareness on nature protection and fire prevention.  

Meetings of ‘Fans of Mushrooms’. It is organized by the Association of Fans of Mushrooms of Western Macedonia. It is a nationwide meeting but usually transnational as well (as it was last year), which last year attracted more than fifty friends of mushrooms not only from Greece but also from southern Italy, including the President of fans of the truffle of Salento, the President of the club of friends of mushrooms from Lecce and many famous Italian Chefs.

The Nestorio Reunion. It is a global meeting of the people who originate from Nestorio. It was organized for the first time in 2005 in Nestorio, from 10-15 of August. Managers of the reunion were the Association of the people of Cleveland originating from Nestorio, the Association of the people of Toronto originating from Nestorio, the Association of the people of Melbourne originating from Nestorio, the Association of the people of Thessaloniki originating from Nestorio and finally the municipality of Nestorio. In August 2010 the same meeting was repeated. The purpose of the Reunion is to gather all the local people who live around the world, older and younger generations in their homeplace, to renew relationships, to give the chance to young people to meet the place where their parents grew up and finally to inform every attendant about the progress and the development of the village of Nestorio. The meetings include various events such as dinners, tours, theatrical performances and participation in various religious and cultural events.
 
The River Party is a big festival next to the Aliakmonas river, being today a well known special event.

The idea started several years ago, about in early of August of 1978, when a group of friends - mainly children of immigrants who came home for vacation - decided to set up their own party on the banks of Aliakmonas. The idea proved to be excellent and the party continued in the next years with guitars and tons of fun.

The first “organized” concert took place in 1985, by the band ‘Tripes’. Since then the River Party, is organized every year on the first weekend of August. It is one of the most important cultural events of the country.

The area of the River Party is a magnificent location. Both famous and upcoming artists participate in the festival with pop, rock and folk music. At the same time sport activities are such as tours in Grammos, hiking, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, swimming in the crystal clear waters of the river, orientation games, archery, shooting, hillside parachute, trampoline games and also theatrical performances for children, photographic exhibitions, book and folklore exhibitions.

Today, the River Party is organized by the Municipal Office of Tourism, Culture, Social Development and Social Welfare of Nestorio.

Spectacular picture of fireworks at the opening ceremony of the river party

Traditional Villages

The settlements and the vvillages of the area are mountainous, some of them are located on hills and mountains covered with beautiful vegetation and others are located on alpine landscapes. Most of them are built by local craftsmen and are characterized by their stone wall houses. Some of them are vivid with small cafes and some uninhabited.
Nestorio: It is the capital of the Nestorio Municipality, the largest village in the area and the main spot for excursion across the mountain of Grammos. It is built at an altitude of 950m and composed of two neighborhoods - the Upper and the Lower Nestorio – both built on a slope. Nowadays these neighborhoods have been almost merged in one. On the outskirts of Nestorio the river Aliakmonas is flowing and on its east side the “Kastro” (Castle) is standing. Before the war, Nestorio was a commercial center and it was also famous for its stone craftsmen. Today, there are many taverns, cafes and guesthouses in the village. The visitor should wander around its narrow streets.

Panoramic view of Nestorio from the road that goes to the village of Kotyli

Pefko: It is built at an altitude of 1,000 m., at the location ‘Prioni’, on the banks of a tributary of the river Aliakmonas. It is a traditional village with beautiful stone houses with roofs made of slate.
Monopylo: It is a village that was inhabited before the civil war. Recently, new small houses have been constructed in this area.
Livadotopi: It is located in a beautiful site. During the last years, new houses were also built in this area.
Giannakohori: At the end of the last century it was the largest and the richest of the villages of Grammos. Its population was approximately 1600 residents. It is said that many silversmiths lived and worked there. It was abandoned during the civil war. However, some old residents are returning to the village again and build small houses.

 Panoramic view of the village Pefko

Aghia Anna: It is a small village built on a hill. Here is the old Monastery of Tsouka.
Nea Kotyli: The stone houses with roofs made by sheet metal characterize this small village. There is a guesthouse and a traditional café.

Panoramic view of the village Kotyli

Kypseli: The village lies in a beech forest, at an altitude of 1,000 m. It is one of the most beautiful villages of Grammos, inhabited only during the summer when the traditional café is open (using the old school of the village).

 Panoramic view of the village Kypseli

Panoramic view of the village Pefkofyto

Pefkofyto: The village is built at an altitude of 1,000 m. In 60s, its residents abandoned it due to a land concession to the area of Maniaki. Today most of the houses are inhabited. In the summer, visitors can find a guest house and a traditional café.
Grammos: It is the settlement of Grammochoria that is located at the highest altitude (1,380m.). In the late of the 18th century, 2.500 residents lived there, but in 1940 it was abandoned. Since then it has not permanent residents. In the summer, only farmers stay in the village because there is located the largest alpine pasture in Greece.

Panoramic view of the village Grammos

Dipotamia: It is the central village of the municipality of Akrites. The villagers are mostly farmers and breeders. A visitor will find traditional cafes in this village. From Dipotamia starts the northern access to Grammos.
Eptahori: It is the center of the community of Arrenes. The village was formed by the merge of other smaller and earlier settlements. It is located at an altitude of 900 m., and is crossed by the river Sarantaporo. The stone bridge and the watermill of Gkioulekas are the most famous sights in this area.
Zouzouli: This is the most remote village in the area. In 1963 six hundred residents lived there, but because of the landslides, in 1965, the residents moved to the area of Maniaki. The village now is inhabited only during the summer months. The old school has been renovated and became a guesthouse.

 Panoramic view of the village Dipotamia

Panoramic view of the village Eptahori

Chionato: It is a small settlement. People are involved in agriculture and in livestock farming.
Chrysi: It is built on a hillside at the edge of Grammos, at an altitude of 1,040 m. The village is very vivid with traditional coffee shops and carpet crafts. It is used by the climbers as a base before and after their excursions to Grammos.
Moreover, there are many uninhabited but very picturesque villages in the municipality of Nestorio. Although most of the houses have been damaged by the time, the stonework in their construction is impressive. Some churches and monasteries with remarkable architecture are preserved in a better condition. Visitors should go to the abandoned village of Palia (Old) Kotyli, where an old bridge and many old the stone houses are found. This old village is located in the shadow of the impressive "Haros (Death) of Kotyli” close to the National Reconciliation Park.

Panoramic view of the village Pefkofyto

Local Cuisine – Restaurants & Taverns

Local Cuisine

There are many excellent local products in Nestorio, such as: beans, lentils, peas, mushrooms (from the surrounding mountains) and cheese like the delicious “badgos” (a typical cheese of Western Macedonia. It is a traditional brine cheese, semi-hard or hard, from sheep's or goat’s milk, or from a mixture of the above, partially skimmed). There are also products like “trachanas” (a kind of pasta), “chilopites” (a kind of noodles), local meat and of course the local drink “tsipouro”.

The taverns and the coffee houses in the area serve dishes based on local recipes such as: “fasoulotavas” (beans with tomato sauce, cooked in the oven), peas in tomato sauce with fresh onions, mushrooms stuffed or cooked in wine, fried “badgos”, local feta, radishes from the mountain, traditional pies, “sarmades” (stuffed leaves of cabbage) with sauerkraut, rabbit, cock with noodles in red sauce. The traditional “souvlaki”, burgers, sausages, “pantsetes” and the steaks are served usually grilled and are very tasty. Some restaurants serve also wild boar and goat stew, cooked in the pot. All these dishes are accompanied by the local drink “tsipouro” or wine.

Restaurants & Taverns

Restaurants - Taverns  Telephone Number  Village 
 “Alexandros”  2467031114  Nestorio
 “Afkos Grammos”  2467031534  Nestorio
 “Rahati”  2467031485  Nestorio
 “River party”  2467031077  Nestorio
 “Tou Vlahou to Konaki”  2467031020  Nestorio
 “To Kerasma”  6972070948  Nestorio
 “Greboras”  2467062108  Pefko
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café) – Kypseli”  2467086440  Κypseli
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café) –Tzavelas”  2467086418  Kotyli
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café) – Chionato”  6944108833  Chionato
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café) – Pano Mahalas”  2467084165  Eptahori
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café) – Rema”  2467084043  Eptahori
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café) of Dipotamia”  2467091285  Dipotamia
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio – Ouzo Bar"  6976473392  Dipotamia
 “Paradosiako Kafeneio (traditional café)"  6984768553  Dipotamia
 "To Steki tis Pareas"  6974711799  Komninades

 

Accommodation Services – Hotels & Guest houses

Hotels in Nestorio Website Telephone Number 
AFKOS GRAMMOS HOTEL  www.afkosgrammoshotel.gr  2467031534
“Sirios”  www.oreston.gr  2467031650
Guesthouses in Nestorio       
“Alexandros”  www.hostel-slexandros.gr  2467031114
“Anastasia”  www.xenonas-anastasia.gr  246703110, 2467031102
“Achillio”  www.kastorianet.gr/achilion  246703132, 2467031120
“Vattyna”  www.vatina.gr  246703122, 2467031118
Municipal Guesthouse of Nestorio    2467352300
 “To spiti tou Gakou” (the house of Gakos)"  www.tospititougakou.gr  2467031401
 Guesthouses in other villages    
 Hotel 1450m Kotyli  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  2467082400
 Guesthouse – Refuge  www.grammos.com  24678 90111
 Idomenefs Eptachori  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Επταχώρι  24670 87501-02
 Municipal Guesthouse of Glykoneri    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Giannochori    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Monopylo    2467352300
“Tesseris Epohes” (Four Seasons) Pefko    246703116, 2467031650
 Guesthouse of Ptelea    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Livadotopi    2467352300
 Guesthouse of Kotyli    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Chionato    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Trilofos    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Kali Vrysi    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Pefkofyto    2467352300
 Municipal Guesthouse of Grammos    2467352300

General Information – Useful Phone Numbers

Access

From northern Greece the easiest access is by road. The directions are simple and it is mainly following Egnatia Odos (E90). Specifically, after leaving the junction of Siatista (junction 9A of the vertical axis to Kastoria), then follow the highway to Kastoria and exit at the junction of Kastoria - west (2nd exit to Kastoria) then right after reaching the Provincial Road Kastoria – Nestorio, turn left (direction to Nestorio) and follow the road for 20 km.

From the south and the central part of Greece you either have to follow PATHE (Patras - Athens – Thessaloniki - Evzoni) Highway (E95) to the junction of Klidi and then follow as above Egnatia Odos (E90), or you can take the road that goes from Lamia, Karditsa, Trikala, Kalambaka, Grevena and from there merge into Egnatia Odos towards Kozani. When you arrive again at the junction 9A of the vertical axis to Kastoria, follow the same route as above.

From Epirus you take the National Highway Kozani – Ioannina, after Konitsa and before Eptahori at the Bridge of Sarantaporo you turn left towards Nestorio through Kotyli, from that point it is a distance of 32 Km.

If you do not want to travel by car you have the following options:

KTEL bus: Both from Athens and Thessaloniki, there are daily itineraries to Kastoria. Nestorio is connected daily, by KTEL buses, with the city of Kastoria, the distance is 25 km.

Kastoria is also connected to Athens by plane.

From Korca, the access is very easy. From Krystallopigi you take the national road - EO2 - Krystallopigi - Florina, you turn right on the road Kastoria - Prespa (there are signs to Kastoria, Kozani, Greece), you take the exit Kastoria - west (2nd exit to Kastoria) and immediately after reaching the Provincial Road Kastoria – Nestorio you turn left towards Nestorio, which is 20 km from there.

Info Centers
Information Center of Grammos: In Nestorio, there is the Information Center of Grammos, which aims to support and promote alternative tourism in the area.
The center provides to the visitors information about the history, the settlements, the fauna, the flora, forests, protected species, etc of the area. It also provides: the use of digital technology, expositions, brochures, reliefs and tour guides.  
Information

Responsible: Municipality of Nestoriο
Tel.: 2467031204, 24673523

Tourist Agencies

Kalapoutis Tours  
Responsible: Kalapoutis Christos, tel.: 2467026855, fax: 2467026845, mobile: 6945791788

Useful Phone Numbers

Municipality of Nestorio  2467352300
Community Rural Clinic of Nestorio  2467031216
Fire Department of Nestorio  2467031199, 2467031135
Police Station of Nestorio  2467031205, 2467031218
Department of Border Guard  2467031059, 2467031061
Post Office of Nestorio  2467031213
Information Center of Grammos  2467352300
Municipal Library  2467352300

Municipal Enterprise for Tourism and Culture, Social Development and Welfare of Nestorio

 2467352300
Citizen Service Center of Nestorio

 2467352319, 2467352320 (fax) 2467031242

High School in Nestorio  2467031214
Gymnasium in Nestorio  2467031071
Tax Office of Nestorio  2467031538
Citizen Service Center of Dipotamia  2467351714-715
Local Community of Dipotamia  2467351700
Citizen Service Center of Eptahori  2467084029, Fax: 2467084774
Park National Reconciliation  24670 21853, 24670 62136 http://grammos-pes.gr
Buses (KTEL) of Kastoria  2467083633, 2467083455
Kastoria Airport "Aristotle"  2467021700
 Associations  
Women Cooperative of Nestorio "Tastes of Grammos"  24670 21853
Athletic Association of Nestorio  2467351700
Cultural Association of Nestorio  2467352300
Association of Women of Nestorio  2467352300
Women Cooperative of Dipotamia “Tastes of Akrites”  6973220442
Folklore Association of Dipotamia  2467351700
Cultural Association of Dipotamia  2467351700
Cultural Association of Eptahori  2467352300
Cultural Association of Kypseli  2467352300
Folklore Association of Chrysi
Cultural Association of Chrysi
 2467084246
Folklore Association of Kotyli  2467352300
Cultural Association of Chionato  2467351700
Athletic Association of Chionato  2467351700
Cultural Association of Komninades  2467351700
Association of Women of Grammos  2467352300 
Cultural Association of Mesovrahos  2467351700
Cultural Association of Trilofos  2467352300
Cultural Association of Monopilo  2467352300
Cultural Association of Livadotopi  2467352300
Cultural Association of Gianochori  2467352300

 

 

Municipality of Nestorio
Address: Nestorio, 52051, Greece
Tel : +30 2467 352300
Fax: +30 2467 031242
Email: Dimos_nestoriou@0807.syzefxis.gov.gr
Web site: www.nestorio.gr

Municipality of Korce
Address: 28 Nentori, L7, Korce, Albania
Tel : + 355 8224 3353
Fax: + 355 8224 2004
Email: info@bashkiakorce.gov.al
Web site: www.bashkiakorce.gov.al

CALLISTO Wildlife and Nature Conservation Society
Address: Kipourio, 51031, Greece
Tel : +30 24620 75392
Fax: +302310 272190
Email: Spyros@callisto.gr
Web site: www.callisto.gr

Through this project, the three partners from Greece and Albania are cooperating in order to create a single tourist project which will stimulate the touristic development of the area