East Macedonia (Grevena Perfecture & The National Park of Valia Calda)
Grevena is a beautiful Macedonian town surrounded by high mountains, lush forests, streams, rivers, and creeks. Along with the picturesque villages, the impressive stone bridges, and old churches, create a fairytale setting.
The main tourist attractions of the perfecture of Grevena are "The National Park of Valia Calda", " The Vasilitsa Ski Center" and of course the many varieties of wild mushrooms that exist in the perfecture.
The Grevena perfecture is both a winter and a summer tourist destination. In the city of Grevena you will admire the stone clock tower, the modern building of the Municipal Central Library by the river where you will find historical documents of the area, the Bousiou Mill, an old, restored flour mill, the Municipal Museum, with its fossilized exhibits as well as the folklore exhibits, and the Cathedral, where the Ecclesiastical Museum is housed.
Τhe Museum of Natural History hosts a permanent Palaeontological Exhibition that is located in the nearby village of Milia. One of the Palaeontological exibits, is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records of being the largest mammoth tusks in the world.
The nature trails of Grevena offer an unforgettable experience to explore the wild beauty of mountainous Western Greece. The off road routes are ideal for all adrenaline fans.
The Mastorochoria, approximately 25 settlements of Grevena are considered a local "jewel" of the area's tradition. The stone houses, the imposing tower like-mansions, the well-built churches, the arched bridges, the fountains, and the cobbled alleys are real monuments of local stone carving, which flourished here from the middle of the 18th century to the middle of the 20th century. All this emerged through the skill and merit of the local stone craftsmens.
The National Park of Pindos "Valia Calda" is one of the most important and most pristine Parks in Greece. The park covers approximately 69,000 acres of land and lies on the borders of the regions Grevena and Ioannina.
Valia Calda (meaning the Warm Valley in Aromanian), was created in 1966 and considered one of the most important protected areas for the maintenance of mountainous biodiversity and ecosystem integrity at national level. The park's climate is montane and varies according to elevation and aspect. As elevation increases, the climate becomes cooler, due to a decrease in atmospheric pressure and the adiabatic cooling of airmasses. The national park is one of three areas in Greece that hosts a population of Eurasian brown bears, which is considered a conservation priority species. Other large mammals that live in the park are lynxes, roe deers and wildcats. Additionally, wolves, beech martens, wild boars and red squirrels are present in the area all year round. The park provides shelter for than 80 species of birds, 6 species of amphibians and 7 species of reptiles have also been counted. There are ten rare bird species, and this includes the eastern imperial eagle, the Golden eagle, the Levant sparrowhawk and the Lanner falcon, which indicates the ornithological importance of the area.
Apart from the rich fauna of the forest, its flora is also particularly characteristic. Huge and dense forests of European black pine and common beech cover the park's lower and middle altitudes 1,000 to 1,600 m (3,300 to 5,200 ft), with several of these trees being more than 700 years old. At higher altitudes 1,600 to 1,900 m (5,200 to 6,200 ft), Bosnian pine woodland is dominant.There are also scattered trees of other species such as spruce, oak, maple and other deciduous broadleaf trees. Many protected endemic and rare species of flora also exist.
Overall, the landscape in Valia Calda is impressive. The dense forests alternate with bare and rocky ridges as well as huge cliffs. The strong presence of the wet element in combination with the extremely rich fauna and the impressive form of many mushrooms makes the Pindos National Park a special destination for hundreds of nature lovers and hikers and let not forget the gastronomic culture of the area.