General Information on Serres
The Prefecture of Serres is gifted with exceptional natural beauty, unique archaeological sites and impressive historical monuments. Poles of attraction are winter sport in the ski centre of Laidia, Byzantine castles, monasteries and a curative source in Nigrita. The Prefecture is extremely developed and, as far as tourism is concerned, attracts many visitors, especially during winter.
Serres, the capital of the Prefecture by the same name, is a modern, bustling town and the commercial centre of the greater region. It has broad streets and open squares while the newly built part blends pleasantly with the old. In its northern sector, on the pine-wooden hill of Koula, the ruins of the ancient acropolis and the Byzantine castle bear witness to a history spanning many centuries. There is also a 14th century church here, dedicated to St. Nicholas with beautiful mosaics. 12km away, in a gorge stands the monastery of Timios Prodromos (St. John the Baptist) with frescoes of various periods. Serres with its modern capital and the continually changing landscape is worth visiting.
History of Serres
The city of Serres was the crossroads and staging post on the main lines of communication in Europe for countless armies and people. Yet, it was among the few ancient cities of the much afflicted Greek region that has managed to exist uninterruptedly since the dawn of history to the present day. The town appeared for the first time in history in the early 5th century B.C. Herodotus was the first to mention the town using the name “Siris”. The city was already the chief town of its district in the time of Herodotus. Serres was an important landmark for various tribes moving towards the Greek Peninsula.
In the course of the 5th century A.D., the city was mentioned as the seat of a Bishop while in the early 6th century it was the most important city of the 7th province of the Byzantine state. During Byzantine times Serres became the site of a major fortress built by the Empire to guard the empire’s northern frontier and the strategic Rupel Pass into Bulgaria. From the 8th century on Serres has played a leading role in Greek history and is considered the most important among the cities between the rivers Nestos and Strymon.
During the Middle Ages, it was often hit hard, sometimes even completely destroyed. It was ravaged in 1195-96 by the Bulgarians who defeated the Byzantine army. In the autumn of 1204 the city surrendered to the Frank crusaders, who set out to free the Holy Land and ended up enslaving a Christian state. In 1205 the Bulgarian ruler John I, seized Serres, captured the Franks and completely sacked the city. In 1221 the town fell into the hands of the Despot of Epirus, Theodoros, but in 1230 in the battle of Klokonica the Bulgarians captured and blinded Theodoros and seized Serres. After a sudden attack in 1245, the Bulgarians gave the city to the Emperor of Nicaea. In 1345 the city was taken by the Serbs who kept it until their defeat by the Turks at Tzernomiano in 1371.
During the last centuries of the Turkish occupation, the town became a unique centre of exports and transporting commerce. The market was flooded with grain products, textiles and particularly cotton, while it was here where caravans from all over Europe used to depart from and arrive at. At the same time, education and literacy greatly increased. The College of Education in Serres was the first that was founded in the whole European Turkey in 1672 and the teachers who graduated from it, went far beyond Greece and turned out to be a vital force in the education and cultural awakening of the Greek nation. The citizens of Serres took part in all the pre-revolutionary movements of subjugated Greeks during the astonishingly prolonged slavery and paid dearly for their need of freedom.
Throughout the Macedonian Struggle (1904-1908), Serres alongside the city of Thessaloniki and Monastiri, played a major role in organizing and leading the war. At the end of the second Balkan War, a big part of Serres was burned and ruined by the retreating Bulgarians. Freedom came at last after 530 years of slavery. During World War II, the inhabitants of Serres took part in the Roupel fight, at the boundaries with Bulgaria, and managed to delay Hitler’s army for a week (6- 13 April 1941).
Towns & Villages in Serres
Wandering around the prefecture of Serres, visitors come across various beautiful settlements. Agia Eleni, a village famous for the custom “Anastenaria” (walking on coals), Alistrati is a village gifted with a magnificent cave and an imposing canyon as well as the village of Amphipolis, which is located at the archaeological site of the homonymous ancient town. Moreover, the tobacco village Gazoros, the village Kerkini close to the homonymous lake, the village Monoklissia famous for its traditional customs, the tourist resort of Nea Kerdilia, the agricultural hamlet Neos Skopos, the range in Nigrita and the beautiful border town of Sidirokastro are definitely worth a visit. Especially Sidirokastro is a very pretty town built on the banks of the Kroussovitis River with an amazing surrounding area of great vegetation, streams, waterfalls, bridges, churches and monasteries.
How to Reach Serres
Top 10 Destinations in Serres
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Map of Serres