The fur industry
The fur industry has been the most profitable occupation for the people of Kastoria. It has developed since the Byzantine period when many young men came to learn the skill and their trade had spread to faraway places, being the major factor of the flourishing economy of the place. Nowadays it has declined a lot, for ecological reasons at first and now because of the recession. Still many rich people come even from abroad to buy a fur coat,. Russians are the most common clients today. Furs make a lot of money for the merchants but it is an unacceptable practice for the animals, for the environment and for the workers because they all have severe lung problem after a few years. I wish it stopped some day and never came back again. I don't understand how a product of destruction can be carried proudly on a woman's back and be considered as beautiful...! The synthetic ones are equally beautiful... They have already made the beaver extinct a century ago because of this. I think that men lose their heads when in seek of money and women in seek of vanity...
This is another of the 84 small Byzantines churches in Kastoria. On its southern side, it has a gallery with a twin double arch. Though this gives it a distinct style, I have not been able to find the name of this little jewel. Anybody knows ?
Stork in Kastoria
As the sharpness of the photos are greatly reduced for VT, you might have not noticed on the first photo of the previous tip that there was a stork standing on its nest, right in the center of Kastoria. This is not really a surprise as lake Orestida and nearby area covered by reeds makes a perfect habitat for storks. Moreover, European storks, when they migrate in autumn to warmer climates fly either over the Gibraltar strait and this is the western route, or over the Marmara sea and this is the eastern route. Storks living in Kastoria in summer will undoubtedly follow the eastern route.
"A Wealthy Mainland Greek Town"
This was our first holiday after having our son...he was four months old on this trip. This fact made it quite a different experience for us as we, of course, were used to travelling alone.
Kastoria is a lovely Greek town with northern architecture built on the spit of land reaching out into Lake Kastoria. It was quite chilly there in January, especially to us as we were coming from Cyprus.
Kastoria's weath, both historical and contemporary, is very evident in the quality and style of building and in the sheer mass of fur coats one sees being worn by the general populace. Kastoria Lake, of course, used to be the center of a fur industry based on the local (now extinct) beaver population. These days, the furs are imported from Canada and Russia and processed in the area.
I should note that Kastoria has a VAST number of Byzantine and Post-Byzantine churches which would require at least a week to visit. We managed to see about 10 of them and we walked all afternoon. They're usually closed and locked up but they're still definitely worth investigating.
If you're looking for a party, I would definitely suggest visiting Kastoria between January 5th and 12th as it hosts one of the most famous and exciting New Year's Carnival weeks that I've ever seen. We had to leave, unfortunately, on the 6th so we only just caught the first part, which consisted in impromptu brass bands circulating in the streets at all hours of the days and nights.
"The Natural Environment"
Kastoria is located in the mountains and, if you're lucky on your trip through the mountains, you'll see some truly fabulous snow-covered mountain scenery and villages.
That being said, the city itself is not spectacular in its natural environment though it does have it's share of greenery and its location on the lake is truly lovely. The migratory ducks and geese that we saw on the lake, however, were a pleasant surprise for all of us. Cormorants, swans and seagulls also made their presence known.