A GREEK NYMPH WITH OPEN ARMS AND FULL HANDS!

©Photos by Yannis Delikostidis. All Rights Reserved

Approaching Servia and Velvento area, either coming from Kozani or Larisa, the first impressive landscape one can discern is large Polyfytos Lake above which are two bridges and over them, on the top of the hill, a little jewel!

If our area is considered, even a bit, popular in the rest of Greece and abroad, it is partly owed to this little jewel, Neraida Village.

Its residents descend from Greeks of Pontos, who came to the territory from Sevastia (current Turkey) during the Greek – Turkish population exchange in 1922.

Devastated people, persecuted by the Turks, they originally settled in a highland spot near Lefkara in 1922. The particular place was infertile so in 1929 they decided to move closer to the Aliakmonas river.

The new settlement was built on the banks of Aliakmonas river and its initial name was Nea Iraklia.Due to the breathtaking landscape, which resembled a “Nymphs’ shelter”, the then Metropolitan Bishop of Kozani Joachim, impressed himself by the beauty, renamed the village to Neraida. (in Greek Νεράιδα means Nymph.)

In 1974 the Nymph’s village is obliged to move once more. The Public Power Corporation decides to build a huge hydroelectric dam forcing the villagers to resettle in the hill above the new, artificial lake. Neraida was built without the Greek Government’s support, however, its residents’tenacity and love have brought the village in the spotlight.

There are plenty for a visitor to gain in Neraida throughout the year! The beauty of the water in the middle of massifs in an area with unique products is the best choice for relaxation and serenity.

In “the little jewel” you can find unique hospitality and people with a warm smile! The taverns, the cafeterias and the hotels are family businesses, famous for the high sense of hospitality and the commitment to what they do.

WHAT TO SEE

Neraida has only one main road, paved with cubical stones. From the entrance of the village one can enjoy the unique sunset, the small Port of Neraida, the Kozani Yacht Club facilities and gaze at the West part of Polyfytos Lake with the picturesque creeks, as well as all the lakeside villages.

The main road will lead you to the central square of the village where you can admire the magnificent clock. Just opposite is the Aghios Georgios’ church (Άγιος Γεώργιος in Greek, Saint George) the patron saint of the village. You will be impressed by its facade, which is decorated in a unique way with painted icons.

The church is so popular in the area, that many young couples hold their wedding ceremony there. They are not to be blamed, since the view to the lake from the particular spot is breathtaking!

From the entrance of the village you may also take a hiking path of about 500 metres, which ends up in the Aghios Georgios’ church. Your stroll around the village will be rather “aromatic” since the hill is full of herbs, such as mountain tea, mint, thyme and chamomile. From the path you can discover myths and legends of the past and be led to the big cave of Neraida full of wild pigeons and bats’ nests.

Depending on the season you visit Neraida if you are lucky, apart from the local fishermen who fish carps, rudds, flathead mullets, wels catfish and perches, you will encounter numerous bird species that nestle on the islets, such as flamingos, cormorants, gulls, mallards, wild geese and wild hens. In the area reside 170 bird species, a subject which will be discussed on a later article.

WHAT TO TASTE

Apart from taverns menus, don’t forget to ask for cheese and dairy products with Protected Designation of Origin from the near farms, fresh mountain greens, local pies (unique in Greece!), peas, beans and okra dishes all made with local vegetables, wine either from the unique Velventos vineyard or homemade, as well as delicious fish from the lake.

ACTIVITIES

You can mingle with the local fishermen, who will reveal all the secrets of the lake and you will also have the opportunity to participate in fishing competition! You may as well take part in sport events that take place in the lake (pan-European skiing and rowing races). In Neraida you can enjoy unique cultural events during the carnival.

EXCURSIONS

Staying in Neraida hotels enables you to organise daily excursions to Municipality of Servia – Velvento tourist spots. You may visit: in magnificent Velvento the natural beauty of “Skepasmeno” (Σκεπασμένο in Greek means “covered”) with the waterfalls and the 70 chapels, the Servia Byzantine Castle and the impressive ravine, the unique worldwide Bouharia (Μπουχάρια in Greek) and Nochtaria (Νοχτάρια in Greek) situated in Mikrovalto Village, the Aiani archaeological site and its exceptional museum, Kastania Village from which you can see almost the entire lake area, Katafygio Village and Paleogratsano Village, situated after Velvento on the slopes of Pieria Mountains where you can admire unique Byzantine monuments about which Kozani Guide will discuss further on in an extensive article.

HOW TO COME

Neraida Village is situated in the centre of Servia – Velvento Municipality and not far from Kozani and Thessaloniki. See the distances below:
→ From Servia just 6 kms (5 minutes).
→ From Velvento 9 kms (14 minutes).
→ From Kozani 16 kms (12 minutes).
→ From Thessaloniki 138 kms (1 hour and 20 minutes).
→ From Athens 458 kms (5 hours).

Article’s information and data by Mr. Xenofon Vaizoglou, President of Neraida Village.

Article by → Voula Papia – Kozani Guide Editor

Voula Papia

Philologist of English language and literature, Ba in English Lang & Literature from Aristotle University, English Language Teacher in Public and Private Schools, Translator.