Kastoria and Western Macedonia

On Wednesday morning I left western Boeotia for Western Macedonia.  This is a mountainous drive and I did it in the rain… but the reward of Kastoria was brilliant indeed.

Kastoria as many of you know is located on a peninsula that juts out into a lake of the same name.  The town itself retains its Ottoman (and likely earlier) street plan presenting a rabbits-warren of confusing streets — none of which are straight and none of which are flat.  Navigating these streets presents a reward, however, in over 60 churches with a handful of particularly important ones of Byzantine date.  The Byzantine churches built from the early 10th century through the early 12th, are almost all of a basilican plan and characterized by exceptionally tall central naves (attenuated as the architectural historians would say).  Some have argued that this is to simulate the effect of a dome employing a far less demanding architectural form. 

Ay_Anayiri_KastoriaSM

Ay_Stephanos_KastoriaSM

There is one domed church the Panayia Koumbelidiki which shares the same attenuated proportions.  Lively and playful, if somewhat flat, decorations in brick enliven the exterior walls of these buildings further contributing to their distinct appearance. 

Pana_Koumbelidiki_Kastoria

The town also preserves a good bit of Ottoman domestic architecture.  From the 16th century on the town was know as a center of the fur trade (initially, it would seem from the kastoras (beavers) that lived in the lake) and wealthy merchants built fancy houses over looking the lake.  Most of which are in a state of neglect.

OttHouse_Kastoria

(There are a goodly number of smaller houses as well):

SmOttHouse_Kastoria

As an aside, while in Kastoria I paid a visit to its supposed predecessor, the town of Diocletianopolis, which according to Procopius was abandoned when Justinian founded the city a Kastoria.  While only bits of the city have been properly explored, a good stretch of its walls remain.  I have no idea of the date of these walls, but presumably they are 4th or 5th century.  The town has repointed them and was in the process of surrounding them with a little park:

Diocletianopolis_Wall_SM

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