SERRES - HISTORY AND NATURE
Serres northeast of Thessaloniki is a city that combines the comforts of an urban center with nature. It is an urban center with beautiful buildings, streets, squares, liveliness and remarkable history. They are located between the mountains 'Vrontou' and 'Menoikio', with exceptional natural landscapes. From the ruined castle that dominates the pine-covered hill of Koula, guests can enjoy the wonderful view. The Tower of Orestes at the top of the city testifies to its long-standing presence over the years. Bezesteni is one of the oldest Turkish buildings in the city center built in 1385 and means a fabric market. Ethnikis Antistaseos from Eleftherias Square to the beginning of the valley of Agioi Anargyroi stands out with its many shops. The real green lung and recreation area of the prefecture is the valley of Agioi Anargyroi that leads to the Acropolis.
Amphipolis is one of the most important sights and an archeological site with the "Lion of Amphipolis" a symbol of pride and guardian of the ancient city. The Museum of Natural History also contributes to the promotion of the natural environment of the place. The Archdiocese includes icons, utensils, vestments and sacred relics from temples and monasteries in the area. The Jinjirli Mosque, and the Ahmet Pasha Mosque, are among the most beautiful mosques built by Mehmet Bey. Due to its resemblance to Christian temples, the people of Serrai call the Ahmet Pasha Mosque "Agia Sofia". The mosque of Mustafa Bey was built in 1519 and is located in the area of Kamenikia where there are also the Ottoman Baths. The Folklore Museum of Vlachs on Karaiskaki Street is a place for teaching traditional dances with a library and a cloakroom with traditional Vlach costumes.
The cave of Alistrati is considered one of the most beautiful and largest in Europe with unique formations, very high roofs and stalactites that compose its grandeur. A short distance from the cave is the gorge of the river Aggitis. Apart from the beauties of the river, the visitor can admire the flora and fauna while it is offered for rafting, having two routes, for advanced and for beginners and children. In the north of the prefecture in Sidirokastro are the thermal springs that operate all year round and receive visitors from all over Greece. The healing properties of the springs are many for diseases of the bones, joints, myalgia, urological and gynecological diseases, etc .. The Motorway of the City with 1,000 acres and the technical safety standards is a track of 1998. It is the largest in the Balkans and the only one in the country with specifications of the International Federation for holding category races up to Formula 3.
Lake Kerkini, an artificial lake formed in 1932, is located 40 km from the city of Serres and 100 km from Thessaloniki. It has been declared a National Park and one of the ten wetlands of international importance in Greece. It is protected by the Ramsar Convention and the European Natura 2000 network. The low vegetation, the swampy waters and the suitable climate make the area an ideal place for bird watching as there are over 300 species of rare and protected birds such as cormorants and various species of herons, while in recent years flamingos have been observed. Water lilies and horses characterize the shores while it is estimated that about 500 buffaloes live in the lake, the largest number in Greece. A range of activities such as boating, horse riding, canoeing, cycling, hiking, birdwatching, archery, photo touring, mountaineering, fishing and a spa in hot springs are offered in the area.
Nigrita is a town in Serres that functioned as the capital of the former Province of Visaltia. The rich architectural heritage of the city, with its neoclassical houses, tobacco shops, churches and chapels highlight its rich past. Rodopoli is located near Lake Kerkini and in picturesque villages such as Ano Poroia. Ano Poria is a destination with a unique view, huge plane trees and mountain waters that characterize the village. The bridge that crosses the river Strymonas leads to the village of Byronia where groups of animals gather on its banks. The snow-capped peaks of Belles complete the unique picture and the now-defunct train station is of great historical importance. Neo Petritsi at the foot of Beles with the waters from the top of the mountain create the valley of Lontza while age-old plane trees and bridges compose a unique landscape.
Sidirokastro is also located in the northern part of the prefecture between the mountains of Vrontos and Agistros. In the town there are monuments such as the Byzantine castle, carved Macedonian tombs, Roman settlement and preserved mansions. Fort Rupel, a site of strategic importance near the Greek-Bulgarian border, is the largest fort known as the "Silk Line". The forest of Lailias, which means "recreation place" in Turkish, with an area of 33,000 acres is also a destination of unique natural beauty. At the top of Ali Baba there is a spring that gushs crystal clear water at an altitude of 1,600 meters where the ski center and chalet are located. The flora of the place and the rich bird fauna, with 10 species of rare birds are protected by the EU. Agistro, the northernmost village of the prefecture of Serres, is characterized by its hot springs which are an attraction for visitors. The Byzantine bath of 950 AD is a cultural monument that is considered the oldest in Greece. The springs of Agistro are among the best in Europe and their waters are suitable for the treatment of skin and many other diseases.
Serres is one of the richest areas of the country in folklore customs and traditions such as the custom of Feminism, Anastenaria, Klidonas and Gerakina. Hunting, pond fish, pies and local meats are dominated by flavors such as wild boar with quince, chickpeas with eggplant, buffalo, carp, trout, deer, knuckle, and perek. Local sweets are known, such as akane and touloumbaki, while a trademark is the Serrai bougatsa. Akanes is the pre-eminent traditional sweet of Serres that looks like a Turkish delight. His name probably comes from the Turkish "hakan" which means prince, something like "the prince's halva".
Touloumba and touloumaki, although not a purely traditional dessert of Serres, their taste and the way they are prepared are unique in Greece. The idea of making bougatsa is estimated in the Byzantine era and specifically from Constantinople, before 1453 AD, where there was a great tradition in pies and pastries. The famous "Sausages of Tzoumagia" that stand out for their special taste and flavor are prepared in a traditional way and are known throughout Greece. Kerkini with the largest number of water buffalo in all of Greece is the area that produces unique buffalo products. It is also famous for its entertainment as, regardless of the season, it is very crowded and especially in Ethnikis Antistaseos.