General Information on Florina
Florina is located in the northwest corner of Greece, close to the borders with FYROM. The area is beautiful, with a rugged mountain landscape and stunning lakes. Formerly a popular mountain town with tourists visiting from FYROM, Florina has dropped in popularity. However, in recent times, thanks to its burgeoning student population, the town feels lively again.
Florina is an interesting city, mainly due to its diverse architecture. Houses of different periods and styles are spread around town. The houses in the city centre exhibit the popular eclectic elements of the 1930s (ranging from neobyzantine to art deco). Other characteristic features are the decorative elements of external surfaces and beautifully carved wooden doors. Florina is a convenient and pleasant place. It is also the only place where you can take a bus to the Prespa Lakes and there is also a nice small ski resort at Vigla.
History of Florina
The known history of Florina region begins after the ceasing of Macedonia as an independent state. After the battle of Pydna in 168 B.C., the Romans conquered the Macedonian province and its territories were divided into four semi-autonomous regions. Despite Roman rule, the area continued to attract colonists from the East and Italy. During the same period, Jewish communities appeared for the first time.
During the 3rd century A.D., there were successive invasions of Goths and other tribes, but they were repelled. In 324 A.D., the Roman Empire was divided in two parts. The eastern part, Byzantium, took control of Macedonia. This had a positive effect on its further development. Until the 7th century A.D., the Greek population of Florina remained effectively unchanged. Afterwards, Slavic races began to settle in the area, with the permission of Byzantine authorities. These tribes formed small Slavic enclaves, which unsuccessfully attacked Thessaloniki and the Byzantines many times throughout the 7th century.
In 1688, Justinian II won a decisive victory over them, and forcibly repelled them to Bithynia in Asia Minor. For a long time, the Slavs lived peacefully in the European provinces of the Byzantine Empire and many of them were hellenised. Florina fell to Ottoman hands in the late 14th century. The Turkish rule caused major changes in the population; Christians abandoned the plains seeking refuge in the mountains, while the economic and intellectual elite fled to the West. Simultaneously, Turkish populations moved in, settling principally in Central Macedonia.
By the 18th century, the city population was a mixture of Turks, Albanians, Greeks and Bulgarians. After the Macedonian Struggle and the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, the area successfully shook off the Ottoman yoke, after a five-century domination. The Treaty of Bucharest (10 August 1913) finally settled the frontiers of the Balkan states in Macedonia. Later, Florina was captured by Bulgaria during the Second Balkan War, World War I, and World War II, before finally returning to Greece.
How to Reach Florina
Bus – Domestic: There are daily buses to Athens (9 hours), Thessaloniki (3 hours), Kozani (1 ¾ hours) and, towards the Prespa Lakes, to Agios Germanos (1 ½ hours).
Bus – International: Daily buses connect Florina to the border town Niki in FYROM (30 minutes). Also, there are buses towards Albania to the border port near Krystallopigi (1 ½ hours).
Train: The train station is at the end of the Thessaloniki-Edessa-Amyndeo line. There are several trains daily in both directions.
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Map of Florina