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Vlach village Nymfaio: the "invisible" nymph of snow and rock

15 January 2012 / 20:01:52  GRReporter
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Located 1350 metres above sea level on the ridges of Verno mountain in north-western Greece, the beautiful village of Nymfaio (http://bit.ly/Nymfaio_map), is one of the most important preserved traditional villages in Greece and one of the ten most beautiful villages in Europe.

It was founded in 1385, since it has played an important role in the history of the region with its highlight being the great economic boom from the 18th until the early 20th century, when its traders worked with the East and West.

The oldest name of the village is Nivaiasta, with Vlach origin, and can be interpreted in three ways: a) "Nymph", because of the beauty and location of the village, b) «invisible» (ni vista), probably because it is located at a place where it could not easily have been seen, and c) "snowy" or "where snow remains» (nives sta). The name Nymfai was adopted in 1928.

In the process of urbanization which began in the 1950s, the village was depopulated as a result of which nearly half the houses are abandoned and have gradually become ruins.

This continued until the mid-80s, when many villagers decided to return to their native region and then it gradually began to recover. In the global competition UNESCO the village wonthe International Melina Mercouri Prize for excellent maintenance of cultural heritage and natural environment.

The village is surrounded by beech forest and rock covered trails. The houses are made of stone and in recent years Nymfaio has become a centre of attraction for tourists. The village has many lodging places (though not sufficient to accommodate all of the tourists). There are also the dilapidated headquarters of the national hero Pavlos Melas and Nikios Scholi - the trademark of the village - which is now a congress centre of the Thessaloniki University "Aristotle."

Nymfaio also houses a Museum of jeweller’s art, folklore and history, in which you can see rare collections of tools, fine jewellery, everyday objects, manuscripts, 60 portraits of prominent Greek, Vlach and other national partisans and fighters.

When you first arrive in Nymfaio and leave your car in the public parking lot just before the entrance of the village, you will see before you pictures reminiscent of a fairy tale: beautiful stone houses, a curved like a rainbow wooden bridge, which unites two of the most impressive traditional houses in the village, picturesquely covered with square tiles.

In Nymfaio you can find about 5 small taverns and restaurants where you can taste mostly local, traditional recipes with meat, pasta and game, and you can also find good restaurants where you can eat outside the village.

Neighbourhood

Over Nymfaio proudly stands the Verno mountain with its beautiful beech forests and stretching down from the village is a valley where you can see two lakes Zazari and Himaditida between which there is only a thin strip of land two kilometres long.

The area is very suitable for horse-riding in the green meadows and forests and the village has modern municipal stables with pure English horses and an experienced horse-riding instructor.

"Arkturos" and the Centre for Wolf Protection

The Non-government organization "Arkturos" is located in the area of Nymfaio and it maintains an information centre for the brown bears and wolves. In order to get there you need to take a fifteen minute walk on the stone path that starts from the village and traverses magnificent scenery.

The centre facilities house bears taken from bear-leaders and zoos and many wolves – it is believed that these animals cannot be let back into the wild.

The centre is open to visitors during most months of the year.

Finally, the park of Nymfaio for wildlife and outdoor recreation extends over an area of ​​1800 acres of fenced municipal forest and is home to deer, which once they start reproducing can be gradually released in order to allow this almost extinct species to return to the Greek wild. In addition to deer in the park you can see many other endangered animals.

How to get there

Nymfaio is located at the southern end of the Florina area, 65 kilometres from Kozani, 65 kilometres from Kastoria, 50 kilometres from Florina, 45 kilometres from Ptolemais, 20 kilometres from Amindeo and 72 kilometres from the winter resort of Vigla.

Where to stay

You can find accommodation in Nymfaia on this website:
http://nymfaio.gr/web/index.php?option=com_sobi2&catid=2&Itemid=111&lang=en

Where to eat

Select yourself from the website:
http://nymfaio.gr/web/index.php?option=com_sobi2&catid=4&Itemid=111&lang=en

Tags: Vlach Verno Nymfaio Florina Greece village mountain
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