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Settlements of Unique Beauty

Goumenissa and the villages of Mount Paiko

Through beautiful trails and an amazing natural landscape, one can reach the villages of Mount Paiko to enjoy the nature, relax in the traditional coffee shops, chat with the elderly that still live in the area, drink fresh water from the mountain springs and taste the wild strawberries that grow on the slopes.

Mount Paiko is very interesting in terms of natural beauty and traditional mountain life and this is due to its geographical position, combined with the altitude, morphology and composition of the soil. These characteristics have given this region some rare qualities, which played a decisive role in its life and evolution over the centuries.

All the villages here are smothered in green and share common architectural features.The houses, the narrow streets, the churches, the squares, the positions of view, the schools, all highlight the local color.

Goumenissa is the capital of the homonymous Municipality, built at the foothills of Mount Paiko.Narrow streets, old traditional houses, abundant waters, indications of pre-industrial technology, the tradition of high quality wines and the music of ''Halkina'' instruments by impromptu bands all accompany the reputation of this town.

Very close to the town ofGoumenissa,there is a place overgrown by trees and oaks.In the crossing of two rivers a waterfall forms and offers a special beauty to the landscape. Recreational structures exist in harmony with the environment and offer their visitors relaxation, spectacular view, hikes on large bridges from tree trunks and an impressive array of rare flora.

In the eastern and southeastern slopes ofPaikoin semi-hilly and plain areas, there is a number of villages that attract a larger population during the summer months.

Karpi, built on a plateau with its characteristic black stream running in the southwestern part of the village, the bed of which is actually black.Karpi is built at an altitude of 380min the eastern foothills of Paiko, just5km from Goumenissa.Its previous name wasTserna Reka (Black River),due to theblack colorof the bed of the stream that is flowing in the southwest part of the village.During the 15th century there were four settlements here.Despitethe fact that these settlements belonged to advantaged regions during the Turkish occupation, they were invaded often by various Turkish groups, which led them to unite in one installation; the settlement Tserna Reka.Today, less than 400 people reside in Karpi, mainly dealing with the cultivation of cereals,tobacco and fruit trees.The houses were built mostly during the 50s with materials of stone,bricks and wood.

A little further to the north is the historic village of Skra.Skrais built on the North-East side of Mount Paiko, at an altitude of 520m.The old name of the village was "Loumnitsa" and it was first recorded in 1452, although Roman findings refer to the very distant past of the village, making the origin of its inhabitants "puzzling".The tradition points that the village came from the combination of ten small settlements in the area, which united there to protect themselves from the Turkish raids.The 20th century ushered bringing dark clouds to the region.Early on, in the first years of the Macedonian Struggle, Skra became the area of violent conflicts and the sacrificial place of the fighters.It took its name from the nearby topSkra di Legken,which during the First World War was the field of a decisive battle(Battle Skra-Ravine, 1918) for the course of the Greek state.It was a heavily fortified area, with a maze of trenches, and it was considered impregnable.Its successful Fall was commissioned by the French general Gkygioma to the Greek forces.In Skra, one will find only a few residents, but it is a place where the customs and beliefs of the past are still alive.

At a higher altitude, through chestnut trees, the visitor meets Grivaand Kastaneri, beautiful villages, abundant vegetation.Griva, inhabited by 817 people, is just 5km away from Goumenissa.Tree fields, livestock and products of the forest are what its inhabitants make a living from.The oldest buildings of this picturesque village have fort-like nature with a stone perimeter wall, which testifies to the character of this region in the older times.

The plain fades away, lost in the clouds and the fog.The asphalt ends, giving way to the charm of the forest road.Snuff-coloredtwigsof beech broken by the blowing air from the trees are swaying gracefully and gently touch the earth, their final destination.Dozens of fresh mushrooms of the Coprinuscomatusvariety can be found on the side of the street.The forest is thinning, the dense beech gives place to the peaceful meadows, a tranquil stream of flowing clear water in between them.Abundant ferns fill entire hillsides with their warm brown colors and sweeten the landscape. Paiko slowly unfolds before the visitor's eyes to the wonderful dense forests, the valleys, the gurgling waters and meadows.Accessible, peaceful and beautiful.Crossing the neck, a different landscape unfolds before the visitor’s eyes.An open horizon, fields and meadows around verdant peaks and the middle of the plateau, Megala Livadia.a Vlach village with a rich history, which is full of life during the summer, while in the winter one rarely sees smoke coming out of its chimneys.

Megala Livadiais built on the peaks of Mount Paiko, on a plateau at an altitude of 1200m. It is a seasonal settlement inhabited by farmers and growers.Megala Livadiaseems to have been the building place of a new village of the fugitive, by the Turks, Epirotes around 1770.Along withMikra Livadia,which was a settlement just on the opposite side, these villages consisted the largest Vlach settlements of Macedonia up until the Second World War.After their release, they were included in the provinceAlmopia or Enotia, whiletoday they belong toPaioniaof Kilkis.The first settlers of Livadia are allegedlyGrammostianoifrom Grammosta of the Mount Grammos.This town was destroyed in the late 18th century, the same period as theMoschopolisbyTurk-albanians.Part of its breeder residents found refuge in the tops of Paiko.The first refugee Grammostianiki group erected huts at around1760in the place "Passiana" or "Huts of Bellis", where later the settlement of Megala Livadia was built. After the destruction of Moschopolis (1769), "Falkaria" of Hatzivrettas and Tika reached Livadia."Falkari" is the number of an extended patriarchal family with all its assets (livestock). When the total destruction of Grammosta took place, around 1800, more Falkaria, such as Hatzistergos and Douma, reached the area.The Falkari ofBougioukliscame from the"Garden" of Pindos.Other Falkaria come from Samarina. Around1840and1850a large settlement named Livadia was formed.It was divided into different areas, depending on the origin of the people."Missiakani", "Grammoustianli", "Pirvouliate" (Perivoliotis)etc.The village, mainly living from livestock, showed strong economic growth early in the century.Their flocks passed the winter in the plains of Kilkis, Giannitsa and Thessaloniki up until St. George’s Day and then moved to Livadia up until to St. Dimitrios’ Day.During 1889, the village was the economic center of the surrounding Vlach villages of Moglenon (Archangelos, Koupa, Karpi, Skra, Houma).At the 1913 census it had a population of 4,000 and it was the 9th largest settlement of Central Macedonia. It was an important center of the Macedonian Struggle and the resistance against the Germans. In 1944, the Germans completely destroyed the village and its inhabitants scattered in the valleys of the surrounding county.Today, Megala Livadia begins to recover.It presents livestock and agricultural production (the potatoes of this region are famous). It is mainly used as a summer resort by people from Megala Livadia that live in urban centers.The large feasts on the day of Agioi Apostoloi (Soumketrou) and Virgin Mary (Stamaria), are an opportunity to reunion the people of Megala Livadia.


Village Koupa

The natural beauty of the landscape consists of rare, in density and growth, oak and beech forests, the number of natural caves, the sour healing water, the river and the numerous springs that feed it. These are just a few of the beauties of the small picturesque Settlement of Koupa, built at an altitude of 600m in the center of the mountainous Paiko.

Its approximately 100 residents are engaged with farming and traditional folk structures. 

The name of this settlement and its foundation come from, according to historical evidence, the Greek Koupis, who fled with his family to the tops of Paiko to avoid his Turks persecutors. The village that Koupis founded in the place "Vekliakoup" (Vlach rendering of the term ‘Old Koupa’), which is northwest of the present village, was depopulated by the plague in 1700. For this reason, its inhabitants left the village and following a swarm of bees that they deliberately set free, they moved to its present location building their church at the point that the bees chose. The church is a basilica, which has been designated by the Ministry of Culture as a monument of great cultural value, still remains a feature of the post-Byzantine character and tradition of the village.

Apart from the natural beauty of the region and the picturesque traditional village, there are also interesting monuments of the presence of the 30th Constitution of ELAS (trenches, cookers), monuments of the presence of the coalition forces during the First World War, of which particularly stand out the 7 kilometers road that leads to Megala Livadia and the 10 km railway line that starts from the river Axios and grows along the local tributary Loumitsa and torrent Makryrema. Also the pits - natural refrigerators in selected parts of the mountain, which were used to preserve food during the summer months, and the cistern with the sour water, which the French soldiers bottled and sent to their country to be used for healing purposes.


Village Metalliko

With a lush green natural environment and the unique experience of hearing the song of nightingales in the small creek outside the village, while at the foot of the hill lies the spring named "Ksino Nero” (Sour Water) which is suitable for drinking therapy.

In "Metalliko" one discovers historical memories of Byzantium (the ruins of the ancient city "Vragylai" are preserved here) while the composition of its population in recent years are the refugees from Pontos, Anatolia, Macedonians from other parts of Macedonia and Sarakatsani families that imprint on the complex historical path of this region.

The post-Byzantine church, St. George, was built by Bulgarians in the early 19th century  and was decorated by the Zosima family of hagiographers from  Halastra.

In the village, there is a feast of the church during the May Day and not on the celebration of St. George’s Day.


Villages Pontokeasia,-Kato Theodoraki

The picturesque villages Pontokerasia and Kato Theodoraki in Kroussia constitute a mountain paradise of florid beauty, while there is infrastructure for the nature lovers who wish to spend a few days and enjoy the peace.

One can find here a modern hostel and opportunities for hiking, horse riding, contact with nature and getting to know the local cuisine.

Nearby, Palatiano is located, with the archaeological site that can only be visited by appointment with the archaeological department. The prefecture of Kilkis is ideal in general, more than anything else, for one to admire its natural beauties, to get into its forests, to live near its springs, waterfalls and lush vegetation, and taste the local products.


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