Its older name was “Tsegani”. What’s extremely special about this settlement is that it was self-sufficient during the Ottoman times, because of the local production of cheese, meat, fleece, and textiles. In 1981 most of the houses were destroyed by an earthquake whose epicenter was 100km southeast of the village.
After the earthquake hit the area all of its inhabitants – mostly farmers and cattle breeders – left their properties and moved down the slope, 6km lower, at the very spot where they built the New Agios Athanasios village.
The construction of this new village followed a modern street model but, later on, visitors started coming massively for the new Ski Center of Kaimaktsalan at which time houses in the old area started to be gradually restored and be transformed into traditional guesthouses. All of the above made the village a significant winter destination.
Its Macedonian architecture is based on stone and wood and due to its characteristically-built houses with their charming roof tiles it was named “The Stone Village”.
The breathtaking view it offers to the Lake Vergotida, its proximity to Mt Kaimaksalan, the traditional hotels and restaurants that operate in or around it, along with the natural environment harmonically form the special charm of the area.
Agios Athanasios is an ideal destination for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers. Ski, snowboard, 4×4 routes, hiking, horse-riding, or archery are just few among the sporting activities that are available to prospective visitors.
The village is the epitome of a traditional settlement with a new twist, while Kaimaktsalan is one of the most up-to-date ski resorts in Greece, at an altitude of almost 2,500m featuring incredible snow quality and, if that’s not enough, an eastern foothill landscape ready to blow your boots off! At the ski center the visitor will come across the famous Snowbar “2.069 m”, a spectacular cafe – bar, located at the start of the two-seater chair, considered to be one of the most successful in the country. Lately, its central chalet was refurbished with the use of earthen materials – stone, wood and glass – in harmony with the special architectural demands due to the high altitude.
Furthermore, there are many roads suitable for 4×4 vehicles which lead to the villages Loutraki, Kerasia, Panagitsa and Achlada, Skopo (Florina) next to the ruins of Setina castle.
The local food is, as expected, of high quality and at affordable prices, there are numerous hotels and hostels at various prices, as well as bars and various venues hosting musical and cultural events.
To get there from Athens, you will follow the National Road Athens-Thessaloniki and exit at Veria straight to Egnatia Road, then to Edessa and from there to Florina. 35km from Edessa you will find the junction to Agios Athanasios.
Cover Picture Credit: Mike Dirhalidis