Kastoria Lake | 10 Million Years Old Bird Breeding and Wintering Refuge
Updated: Sep 12
George Papadellis | SG Head
Kastoria (or Orestiada) Lake is a 10 million years old kidney-shaped lake of West Macedonia, covering an area of 30 square kilometers at an altitude of 650 meters, with a depth between nine and ten meters and a coasline of 34 Km. It is surrounded by Vitsi mountain (NE), Triklario mountain (NW) and Voio mountain (SW).
The lake, which is divided in two parts by Kastoria peninsula, is supplied by nine small rivers and it drains into the river Aliakmonas. Every winter some parts of the lake freeze for 20 to 35 days. The eutrophication, a fact for many years, has recently stopped, letting nature do its work. The city of Kastoria is built on the isthmus of the peninsula, ending up on the “mountain” of Kastoria, a hill called this way. The area is especially beautiful in autumn and spring, the best seasons to get to know the town. Around the lake, the visitors can find restaurants, tavernas and cafes to enjoy the beautiful view.
The fauna of Kastoria Lake includes wooded hills, wet meadows, reeds, lakeside forests, marshes and fields. The lake is a very important area for breeding and wintering species of birds, hosting 200 species of which 90 breed. Dalmatian pelicans, white pelicans, greylag gooses and pygmy cormorants are important part of the fauna, while mute swans choose also the area for breeding (biggest breeding zone in Greece). There are also day predators, night predators, ducks, all nine species of herons of Greece, and many more. There are also amphibians, a rich herpetofauna, otters, wolves and bears.
The Kastoria Lake has been for centuries one of the most important fishing centres of the northern part of Greece, with 14 species today. The Aquarium of Kastoria, one of the largest aquariums in the Balkans, is open for tourists all year round. Attractions of the lake are the 11th century byzantine monastery Panagia Mavriotissa and the Prehistoric Settlement Dispilio.