Lake Orestiada, Kastoria

Lake Orestiada and the city of Kastoria are indissolubly tied for many centuries.

The lake is estimated to have been formed 10,000,000 years ago (in the Miocene), and its present form is a remnant of an older extensive lake with an area of 164 square kilometers and a depth of more than 50 meters.
It is considered to be a lake of karstic, tectonic origin with a total area of 28 square kilometers, average depth of water 4,40m and maximum depth 8,50m.
It has been designated as a site of special beauty by the Ministry of Culture (1974) and has been included in the European Network "NATURA 2000" registered under the code GR1320001 as well as in the list of important areas for the birds of Greece and Europe (SRA).
The lake and the surrounding area are a very important natural ecosystem with diverse and rare habitats that support a large biodiversity including many rare and endangered species
Lake Orestiada or Lake of Kastoria (Greek: Λίμνη Ορεστιάδα) is a lake in the Kastoria regional unit of Macedonia, northwestern Greece. Sitting at an altitude of 630 metres, the lake covers an area of 28 square kilometres.
Nine rivulets flow into the lake, and it drains into the Haliacmon river. Its depth varies from nine to ten metres. The Kastoria Peninsula (with the town of Kastoria) divides the lake into two parts, the larger to the north and the smaller to the south.

The lake takes its name from the Oreiades. Lakeside attractions include, apart from the Byzantine architectural heritage of the town, an 11th-century Byzantine monastery of Panagia Mavriotissa and the reconstructed prehistoric settlement of Dispilio, where the Dispilio Tablet was retrieved from the lake in 1992. The lake is known to freeze in winters.
Human settlement
For the first time it is mentioned by the historian Procopius in the middle of the 6th century AD, according to which Lake Kastoria gave its name to the city founded by Justinian (circumstances IV,3 15-25 p. 273, editions Bonn: "There is no city in Thessaly, Diocletianoupolis, the name of which was blessed in ancient times, but the product of the time of the barbarians, a catalyzed and desolate event on the farthest lake, and it is from neighbors that Kastoria is named after us and an island in the middle of the lake surrounded by waters... for this king (Justinian, i.e.) the Diocletian's upper space, which was transparently fertile, and very rich in abundance, a city on a fortified island, undamaged, and the name of which he left the city".

The name of the city is attributed by some researchers to beavers, the small fur-bearing animals said to have lived in earlier times in the lake. However, this opinion does not seem satisfactory since the specific species is an animal of the American continent and is not found in the European area. Other opinions state that the name comes from the word Kastro (Latin Castrum), or from the mythical hero Kastor who was worshiped in the area, and these opinions, however, according to H. Makris (2000), are not sufficiently justified.

Pre-Foundation History

The area has been inhabited since the prehistoric era, since a Neolithic Lake Settlement dating back to 5500 BC has been discovered on the southern shore of the lake at the borders of the community of Dispilio. According to G. Hourmouziadis (1996), this area was continuously inhabited from the middle Neolithic era to the early Bronze Age (5500-3500 BC).

The Wider geographical area, however, is identified with the one known from antiquity (Orestia, Orestiada) and owes its name to the "mountains", the mountainous i.e. formation of the landscape. According to the wider mythological tradition, the name is due to Orestes, the son of Agamemnon, who, pursued by the Erinyes after the murder of his mother Klytaimestra, came and settled in the area and built the city of Argos Orestikos.

Most scholars identify the city of Kastoria with Ancient Keletro, a city mentioned by the Roman historian Titus Livius (198 AD). Keletro was built around 840 BC. and was destroyed by barbarian raids in the 4th or 5th century AD.
History after the establishment
Kastoria with its name appears in the historical sources by Procopius as mentioned above and its fortification by Justinian (550 AD) is stated. From the 6th to the 10th century, from a historical point of view, complete silence prevails. Kastoria with this name is not mentioned in any historical source. It is assumed, however, that the name "Kastron" prevailed in the oral tradition because of its good fortification. Monuments of this period are not saved due to their destruction. During the 10th century, Kastoria experienced the invasions of the Bulgarians. During the reign of Peter (927-969) it was occupied for the first time and was liberated in 948 AD. by Romanos II with the help of the Pechenegs. Around 990 AD during the reign of Samuel, we have a second occupation of Kastoria and its liberation in 1018 by Basil II the Bulgaroctonus. Anna Komneni mentions in the Alexiada the capture of the city by the Normans in 1083 and its recapture for the sake of Byzantium by Alexios I Komnenos (1081-1118) and his general George Palaiologos. After the fall of Constantinople by the Franks (1204), it seems that for a short time Kastoria came under the rule of the Bulgarians. However, the Despots of Epirus quickly recovered Kastoria and placed general Glava in command, who in 1251 decided to join forces with the emperor of Nicaea, John III Vatatzis. The Byzantine administration in the city is restored by Michael VIII the Paleologos (1259). From Ioannis Katakouzenos we learn that from 1355 Kastoria was occupied by the Serbian Tsar Stefanos Dusan and since then it was lost to Byzantium. In 1386 Kastoria was occupied by the Turks. In 1439 by the Albanians and again after the Turks.

The liberation of the city by the Greeks takes place on 11/11/1912.

Legends and traditions
A strange lake phenomenon
A strange phenomenon of the lake, as described by Panagiotis Papanaoum in his autobiography in 1851:
"And another strange thing happens regularly every year and in the month of August in Kastoria, the known under the name: "the water got sick". The lake of my homeland is divided into two in relation to the anomalous location of the city, Doltzini (Meridian i.e. Southwest) and Apozereni (Arctic i.e. Northeast). From the beginning of the month of August until the 15th of this month, that is, the Dormition of the Virgin, the whitewashers by profession stop their work like the Drymades, saying that the drymen of the lake cut their sails".

"The truth is that the water of the lake is sick first, mostly in the arctic part of it for 8 (eight) whole days and then until the 15th of August at noon. And the water sickness happens, as the common phrase of the citizens calls this phenomenon, in the following way: Suddenly the temperature of the water cools down, so that the use of the baths in the lake is stopped by many, the water turns black and the fishes up to about two liters in weight they float (swim, float) on the surface of the water as drunkards and are caught by the inhabitants by hand. The same phenomenon appears after 8 days in the opposite part of the lake, at the meridian, and lasts until August 15th. Until now, as far as I am informed, no attempt has been made to discover the cause of the phenomenon as such, but I guess that it comes from ferrous springs located at the bottom of the lake. What does not restore the dark phenomenon is its periodic appearance in the month of August. It is possible that in time the discovery of this phenomenon will be made by official men".

The Hasan - Kati mosque
"...This mosque", wrote the high school teacher and folklorist Pantelis Tsamisis, "received its name from Hasan Kadis, who is also remembered by Evliya Çelebi, who came from Anaselitsis (Neapolis) at the beginning of the 19th century , at a time when the lake was frozen and the Pazariotai went straight through Mavrovo from the skala on the horse on Monday and the oxen from the farms entered through the side of the lake and pulled the loaded carts.
At that time, Hasan Kadis [Turkish judge], coming from Argyrokastro, crossed the so-called snowy plain and after learning of the frozen lake, he thanked God for saving him and built the mosque that has since received his name. The deceased was buried in front of the mosque where the old Turks regularly prayed"

During the winters when the lake froze over, the inhabitants used improvised sleds called sleds, which for the economically weaker, were an expensive item to communicate with the villages around the lake. The improvised shoes on the sledges were mule leg bones or two thick beer bottles and thick cloths to slide on the ice.