Kilkis, in Central Macedonia, is such a place. People there don’t just honour tradition, they live it in their everyday lives; in the music that accompanies their every joy or sorrow; in the customs of the various cultures that found refuge there through the centuries; in their relationship with nature which manifests itself in the celebrations they organize for every new harvest.
In the nature of this land, unknown to the many, the nature-lover within you will find fertile ground for exploration. If your interests are rather more anthropological, the lifestyle and the customs of the locals will not only give you plenty of material for observation but they will also excite you and allow you to share in the enthusiasm and passion with which they are undertaken.
What to do in Kilkis
Get to know unknown Kilkis: Goumenissa, the quintessence of living tradition
Goumenissa is a picturesque town at the foot of Paiko, about 40 kilometres from the city of Kilkis. It is famed for its wines and since the locals are hardcore revelers, it’s a good opportunity for you to have an extra glass of wine or two … unless you find you prefer good ‘tsipouro’, the local white spirit for which it is also famed.
The locals are rightfully proud of their musical traditions passed down from father to son for many decades. The brass bands of Goumenissa are known all over the world and have taken part in many music festivals representing this particular kind of Balkan music. Since these bands accompany every social event in town, you will definitely hear them during your stay and the experience will be so moving that it will stay with you for a long time.
And in order to get to know the locals even better, visit the monastery of ‘Panagia Goumenissa’ which, for them, is not only a religious centre but also a historical symbol.
Water: action and soul cleansing
Lake Doirani in northern Kilkis invites you to spend hours of action in its crystalline water. Row, fish, swim and surf. Observe the rare birds and the rich flora and don’t forget to visit the Doirani Museum to learn more about what you have seen. You do not need to take food with you. There are lake side taverns serving fish caught in the lake. Hilia Dentra is a forest near Doirani which you most definitely must visit. It is regarded as a “Natural Monument” with oaks and plane trees that have stood firm for centuries. The cycling enthusiast will enjoy its picturesque twists and turns through the woodland.
Skra Waterfalls. Nature’s revitalizing power in all its glory. Wear comfortable shoes, pack some food and, after you’ve parked the car, walk downhill to see the first waterfalls through the plane trees. A bit further along you will find Smaragdenia Limni, the emerald lake which took its name from the wonderful colour of its water. There you can enjoy your picnic in the midst of the enthralling scenery and, if you like a challenge, dare to take a dip in the water which remains freezing cold even in the height of summer. And then carry on hiking through the lush vegetation and discover the 5-6 metre high waterfalls. There is nothing more invigorating for the body and soul than water falling with the freedom that nature intends. Live it!
In lake Pikrolimni, 22 kilometres from the city of Kilkis, you will enjoy relaxing and healing clay therapy with clay from the bottom of the lake, rich in therapeutic and cosmetic ingredients. Allow nature to pamper you the way only she knows.
Hidden gems of Kilkis
Nature gives lessons in life
Paiko is a small mountain range northwest of Thessaloniki which you simply must explore. Walk on its paths, shaded by oak and chestnut trees and see rabbits, foxes and deer emerging through the trees. Look for the chestnut grove which is open to visitors, pick wild strawberries and cool down by paddling in the crystal clear water of the springs, streams and lakes you will come across. The definition of “return to the wild”.
The Balkan Botanical Garden of Kroussia near Pontokerasia extends to 310,000 square metres and is home to 1,200 kinds of Greek and hundreds of Balkan plants so it would be best if you allow enough time in your programme to enjoy its colours and aromas unhurried.
Agios Georgios Cave is amongst the most remarkable caves in Greece, not only for the historic findings discovered there – you can see them in the Paleontological Museum – but also because it is recommended by doctors for the treatment of respiratory diseases. History and speleotherapy in a single visit!
Although this fertile land now offers peace and calm, it was the theatre of historic battles during World War I and there are several allied forces monuments that bear witness to the fact. They are well worth a visit so you can find out more about a less known period of Greek and European history.
This hospitable land has lots to offer. Get to know Kilkis and you will love it. Visit it and you will want to go back. Live it and it will give you unforgettable life experiences.