Built at an altitude of 1,100 meters on the slopes of Mountain Vermio and at a distance of 17 kilometers from the city of Veria, the village of Kastania is one of the highest inhabited villages in the country. The village is perched literally in a magical location among firs, beeches, pines, walnuts and apples that compose a unique landscape. The tall and massive chestnut trees that dominated the area until 1920 and gave their name to the settlement were cut by the French troops during the First World War where they had camped in the area and operated the convalescent home. The current inhabitants come from Santa of the region of Pontos and settled on the site of the current settlement in 1924. Simultaneously with the construction of the settlement, a school was built, thanks to a large number of teachers and the high educational level of the first families that settled in the settlement. At this school was used to teach the instructor Efstathios Athanasiasis with the nickname “Gerostathi”s, the “Soul of Kastania” who wrote the “Syntax of the Pontian Dialect” and the “History and Folklore of Santa”. The church of the settlement is dedicated to John the Baptist. In 1951 the new church of “Panagia Soumela” was built there, which is visited, especially in August, by a large number of pilgrims from Greece and abroad.
The Holy Monastery of Panagia Soumela
It is the spiritual center of Pontic Hellenism. This is an attempt to revive the famous Monastery of the same name, the ruins of which are still preserved on Mount Mela, near Trabzon of the region of Pontos. This initiative was undertaken by the Pontic Greeks, led by Filonas Ktenidis, founder of the “Panagia Soumela” Foundation in 1950 and it began to be implemented already at the beginning of 1951. In fact, in August of the same year, the icon of the Virgin Mary, painted by the Evangelist Luke himself, was transferred from the Byzantine Museum of Athens, where it was kept for years. The pilgrimage is of Pan-Hellenic appeal and crowds of believers pass by to worship the miraculous icon, while thousands of Christians flock on the days of the festival. For more information, please visit:
14th and 15th of August
On the 14th and 15th of August, on an annually basis, the “Assumption of the Virgin Mary” is celebrated with various events, continuing the tradition and history of 16 centuries that began to be written with struggles and martyrdoms, around the Holy symbol of the Icon of Panagia Soumela. Thousands of believers’ flock to the Pilgrimage site to pay tribute to “Megalohari”.
29th of August
On the 29th of August the church of the settlement celebrates and a big celebration is taking place.