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Serres: a Macedonian city, surrounded by endless natural beauty

20 April 2013 / 20:04:32  GRReporter
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Located in central Macedonia, near Thessaloniki, Serres combines the convenience of the city centre and the natural beauty of Northern Greece

Just 80 km of Thessaloniki, Serres is a separate administrative and economic centre of the homonymous district in central Macedonia. The city and its surrounding area have experienced attacks, destruction and fires over the centuries from the Neolithic to modern times, however, they have developed. During the Ottoman rule the city lived peacefully and, since the 17th century, it has started developing economically and culturally. Few monuments have remained from this era, such as the Serres Bedesten, Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque and Zincirli Mosque.

Today, Serres is a modern urban centre with beautiful buildings and landscapes, wide streets and squares, and a lot of students.

Ethnikis Antistaseos Street is the busiest street in town – it starts form Eleftherias Square and here you can take a stroll around the shops or have a coffee and cake in one of the many cafes in the city centre.

Serres Bedesten is one of the oldest Turkish buildings in the city centre, probably built in 1385. Its name comes from the Arabic-Persian word “bezesten” which means a market of fabrics. It was used as a covered market for luxury goods, and today it hosts the Archaeological Museum.

Picture: www.clickatlife.gr

Besides the Bedesten, one can also visit Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque and Zincirli Mosque - one of the most beautiful mosques in the area, built by Mehmet Bey. Because of its resemblance to a Christian church, the townspeople called it "St. Sofia". There are other interesting museums as well - such as the Sarakatsani Folk Museum (http://www.serrelib.gr/sarakatsanoi_en.html), the Museum of Natural History (http://www.serres.gr/mouseio-fi/eng/index_eng.html), the Museum of Olives and the Ecclesiastical Museum.

From the hill that dominates the city and which is covered with pines, you can see the ancient Acropolis (Koulas), the towers of which evoke the Byzantine spirit. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views over the surrounding field. The valley of Agion Anargiron is the city’s lungs, located on the road to the Acropolis. This is the best park in the city, which is also a place for sports, recreation and entertainment. Paths between old sycamores challenge everyone who wants to escape from the hustle of the city.

Picture: www.clickatlife.gr

Sights in the region

There are many other remarkable places around: Amphipolis is an important archaeological site with a brand new museum. It hosts the Lion of Amphipolis, a symbol of pride and protector of the ancient city.

A visit to the museum can be combined with a walk in Alistrati Cave (http://www.alistraticave.gr/index.cfm?lang=en), which is located 50 km from Serres. It is one of the most beautiful and largest caves in the country and even in Europe, with high ceilings and huge stalactites. Just a short distance from Alistrati Cave you will find the gorge of the river Aggitis, which is a wonderful paradise. There you can enjoy rafting, walking, or having a snack in the restaurant. Be sure to visit Agios Ioannis, just 2 km away, with centuries-old plane-trees and deep water forming small waterfalls.

Picture: www.clickatlife.gr

The town of Sidirokastro is situated 28 km northwest of Serres. There, you will enjoy lush vegetation, waterfalls, picturesque bridges, churches and monasteries, as well as the famous mineral springs. From the remarkable Isar fortress, which is located northwest of the city, you can see the entire city and much of the field of Serres with the Strymonas River (Struma) and Lake Kerkini.

Car lovers can visit Serres Racing Circuit. It is the only racetrack in the country and has an area of 1,000 hectares. It was built in 1998 and it is the largest in the Balkans, with a length of 3,286 m and width of 12-15 metres.

If you visit the area in May, you can see traditional fire dancing, with which the day of Saints Constantine and Helen is celebrated on 21 May. Fire dancers dance barefoot on hot coals.

Picture: www.clickatlife.gr

Kerkini and Lailias

You will miss out if you don’t take a walk to the beautiful Lake Kerkini, which is located 45 km west of the city, near the village of Lithotopos between the Mountains Belles and Krousia that overlook its waters. It is famous for its rich flora and fauna, and is one of the best places in Europe for bird watching.

Lailias forest is another magical place, located 25 km from Serres on Mount Vrontos. It is a high forest of oaks and pine-trees with an area of 33,000 hectares. A lot of athletes and hike lovers visit it daily in the summer and, on 15 August, there are ethnographic performances. In the northern part, at a height of 1,600 m, you will find Lailias ski resort.

Picture: www.clickatlife.gr

Tags: Serres Central Macedonia Kerkini Alistrati Lailias
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