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 against 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 Northern 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.
Continuing to the south of the prefecture we pass by Kristoni and Mavroneri which lead us to the villages of Pikrolimni and Xilokeratia. In this area, every December the 4th, the custom of “Barbara” is celebrated. This originates from Thrace, from the area 40 Churches of Vizye in Eastern Thrace, which has its roots back to the ancient years and celebrates ancient beliefs in ‘panspermia’. The night before the event, housewives boil wheat with cinnamon, walnuts, figs and other ingredients and stir it until it turns into a thick batter. On the 4th of December they place serve this thick batter (“Barbara”) in a deep plate and they have to deliver it to at least 3 houses. In this way, they make a wish for a good harvest season.
Leaving Xilokeratia behind, we arrive at Lake Pikrolimni which is a small shallow salt lake.
The composition of the clay at the bottom of the lake, which is full of sulphates and nitrate salts, is known for its cosmetic and medicinal properties worldwide.
The area provides a fully-equipped clay therapy health spa in addition to accommodation and catering facilities all over the year. The local cuisine is extremely multicultural with unique products and flavors.
For fans of cycling, cycling around the lake and its magnificent natural landscape offers a unique experience. In the area, there is a 7,500-acre wildlife reserve which is part of “NATURA 2000”, a conservation network of protected natural sites.
We return to the village Xilokeratia and then to the village Galliko which took its name from the Gallikos River, or else, the ancient river Echedoros.
The name Echedoros stems from the phrase «he who is gifted (echo dora)» owing to the golden sand of its river banks.
The area surrounding the river is a haven for various species of birds as large flocks of flamingos and other rare and endangered species can be seen.
Just before the end of the route we go through the village Pedino, the Thracian village of Kilkis where someone can find traditional pasta and pastries.
Our journey ends at the city of Kilkis, filling us with images and giving us no choice but fulfill the promise of returning once again to the magic, the unique images and intoxicating aromas of this land ...