We begin our journey from the northern borders of Greece, the city of Kilkis and capital of the prefecture, built at the foot of the hill of Agios Georgios where the post-Byzantine Monastery (1830), named after the Saint, is located. Going down the hill we encounter the two-storey Cave with its coral formations, which together with its medicinal properties for diseases of the respiratory system, is ranked as one of the top caves worldwide. Rare findings from the Cave, including fossilized bones and teeth which date back to the last Ice Age, are on display in the Exhibition of Paleontology on the hill of Agios Georgios.
At the foot of the hill, we arrive at the Archaeological Museum where we can view its unique findings such as the Kouros of ancient Evropou (6th century BC), which the only one ever discovered in North Greece so far, the four monumental statues from the archaeological site of Palatianos and a variety of ceramics dating back to the early Iron Age.
Our walk at the pedestrian city zone is full of aromas coming from restaurants, taverns and ouzeri. There you can taste famous and nationally certified (PDO) local wines and dairy products such as ‘feta’ cheese, ‘manouri’ cheese etc.
The cheese-making tradition has been enriched with techniques used by the refugees of Pontus which offer us today the opportunity to taste ‘gais’ cheese, ‘paskitan’, ‘tsiolakik’ etc.
Not far away from the city of Kilkis, on the way to the west, we pass by the picturesque village Metalliko, well-known for its therapeutic mineral (sour) water spouting from its fountains. Directly afterwards, we come across the village Megali Vrisi where we can taste the local cuisine which is highly multicultural featuring exceptional products and flavors.
Having crossed the village Vaptistis, we drive to the Old Ginekokastro where the main parts of the 13th century Byzantine castle are still maintained. It is worth attending the four-day festival of “Ginekokastria” that takes place in the first ten days of August annually.
The next stop in our culinary tour is the city of Polikastro, a significant travelling spot, known for its remarkable market, lodgings and restaurants. The festival of “Polikastrina”, a ten-day event that takes place during Holy Spirit holidays (lasts3 days and is celebrated 50 days after Easter), is the most important
Continuing at the west bank of the river Axios, we encounter a modern small town, called Axioupoli with its magnificent Natural History Museum. In a 3-km distance, we come across the mouth of the river Mega Rema (Koca Dere), an idyllic location, ideal for fishing, leisure and good food. It is worth travelling a little further to see the beautiful artificial lake known as “Limni Metalliou” (Mine Lake).
The road drives us to the picturesque town of Goumenissa. Built on the eastern slopes of the beautiful mountain of Paiko, it still retains its traditional features. It is a well-known wine-making spot producing famous wines.
The images of its narrow paths and old traditional houses enhanced by the presence of water, add to the charm and the uniqueness of the landscape and hospitality of its inhabitants.
Here, as in Axioupoli, winemakers will guide us to their facilities and will familiarize us with the art of wine tasting. It is worth making a stop at the central square of the city surrounded by plane trees and a beautiful fountain, built by French soldiers in the First World War, to enjoy the local tsipouro and delicacies. The ancient Church of Panagia Goumenissa bearing the holy icon and the “Alevras Folklore Museum” are also recommended for a visit.
An exceptional role in the wine life of Goumenisa plays the annual festival of Saint Triphon, the patron-saint of wine-making. During that festival the famous “Kurbani” takes place which Post-Byzantine churches spread all over the region of Kilkis will impress you with their architectural features. They will bring you closer to divinity thanks to the piety of their atmosphere but will also offer you moments of spiritual uplifting, joy and mirth due to various festivals organized in honor of the Saints is accompanied with plenty of local wine, beef stew and, of course, the music of the famous brass bands “Chalkina of Goumenissa”. The village of Griva with its special architecture is the next stop in our culinary experience, known for its local festival “Chestnut - Wine - Cheese” every last Sunday of October and for its traditional desserts. Here the famous Monastery of Saints Raphael, Nikolaos and Irene, carved in the slopes of the mountain of Paiko, is an exceptional site.
We return back to the way to Goumenisa which leads to Evropos, a significant archaeological site of the area, with findings from the prehistoric era, particularly known for the famous archaic statue of Kouros (650 BC). Here we can taste the dish ‘ntolmadakia Evropou’. Our culinary journey ends back at the city of Kilkis. We are left with the feeling that this land and all its special features calls us to visit, to explore, to discover and to take in its colors, its sounds, its enchantment, its scents...