The City of Central Macedonia
The town of Serres appeared for the first time in History in the early 5th century BC. Herodotus was the first to make mention of the town using the name “Siris” and the definition “Paeonian” while he uses the term “Siropaeones” to refer to its inhabitants. The oldest monument bearing an inscription writing “Sirreon Polis” is dated from the Roman Era and it can be found in the Archeological Museum of Serres. The town used to be an important landmark for various tribes moving towards the Greek Peninsula. In Roman Times, Egnatia Road used to go through Amphipolis which was the capital of the first Macedonian County. A substantial number of Macedonian tombs of great archeological value have been discovered in the area.
Starting during the 8th century the town of Serres has started playing a leading role in Greek History and the town is considered to be the most important one between the rivers Nestos and Strimonas. Byzantine authors used to call it “a Grand and Admirable City”, “Excellent” and “Metropolis” among others. The Art of Painting largely flourished in Byzantine Times while the region belonged to the Province of Illyricos. The well known St John Prodromus monastery, founded in 1276, has always been a great centre of constant artistic activity. Visitors to the monastery can admire the most interesting 14th century murals in the country.
The Turkish conquered the area in 1383 and it was only 530 years later that it was liberated. During the last centuries of the Ottoman occupation the town became a unique centre of exporting and transporting commerce. The market was flooded with grain products, textiles and particularly cotton while it was this town where caravans from all over Europe used to depart from and arrive at. At the same time education and literacy greatly prospered in this town. The Macedonian Educational Association and the first College of Education in European Turkey and Greece were founded in1870 and 1872 respectively in an attempt to promote systematic education.
Situated in the eastern part of Macedonia, known as the largest and wealthiest region of the country, the department of Serres extends from the Strymonikos Bay in the south to the Greek-Bulgarian borders in the north. 48% of the total area, characterized as flat and semi-mountainous, is surrounded by Kerkini – Kerdylia and Orvilos – Paggaeo ranges from the west and the east respectively.
Visitors are attracted to a number of archaeological and historical sites as well as places of unique natural beauty. An outstanding example is the famous sanctuary of the Kerkini Lake, where rare species of birds along with a number of fishes and reptiles, have been living in the peacefully sheltered and protected area for centuries, but still, very closed to civilization. Unquestionably, it is a place of original attractiveness and ideal for birdwatching. The area is also known for its famous irrigation dam.
For the “green” tourism supporters, the area offers an organized skiing centre on the mountain of Lailias, 20km north of the city. The St. John suburb (Agios Ioannis) is a very popular among visitors for cycling or walking activities. Another picturesque attraction is the Alistrati Cave, one of the best in Europe. In the valley of St. Anarghyri and in Ano Poroia visitors can enjoy an exquisite view while for those who seek a panoramic view among the pineclad hills the Koulas Castle is outstanding for its natural environment and tranquility.
Serres is an accessible city since railway connections along with the local transportation facilities are available 24 hours. Equally easy is the access to the shopping centre where visitors can enjoy a great variety of products. The city offers a variety of eating and drinking places – typical Greek taverns for instance – where local food and confectionery seem to be the most famous among visitors’ preferences. There are also many restaurants, a cinema, culture clubs, hotels and sport centers. Cultural events are held under the auspices of the Serres Municipality, including concerts, performances, sport events and exhibitions.
Map of Serres City