Palios Agios Athanasios is the most cosmopolitan mountainous village in Macedonia. It is located in the prefecture of Pella, 33km from Edessa, just 123km from Thessaloniki and 603km from Athens.
Recently, the traditional village of Palios Agios Athanasios has developed impressively for tourism and has evolved into the top winter resort of Macedonia. Yet, despite this, Athenians know very little about it and as result hasten to visit it. Palios Aghios Athanasios is built at an altitude of 1200m under the shadow of Kaimaktsalan, the highest peak of Mount Vora. Its roots date back to the 16th century, when the first inhabitants settled in the area persecuted by the Turks.
The village was abandoned in the 80's mainly because of immigration. Then, in 1994, the ski resort on Vora (Kaimaktsalan) was set up only 17km from the village, and things started to change. Soon Palios Aghios Athanasios became a reference point for the ski resort and ski-lovers. The descendants of the previous inhabitants repaired and renovated the old abandoned houses and transformed them into beautiful traditional inns.
Today the Ministry of Culture has declared the village a conservation area. Any man-made interventions must blend in with the surroundings and comply with the traditional appearance of the village. Palios Aghios Athanasios, which until recently was a ghost village, has turned into a cosmopolitan mountainous village with a distinct traditional colour, beautiful inns, stylish bars, tavernas to tantalise the taste buds, the country villas of show-biz celebrities and a multitude of people (mainly from Thessaloniki but recently also from Athens) who flock there every weekend. Palios Aghios Athanasios is part of a larger region with a particular geophysical feature, the mountain range of Vora at whose foot lie four lakes, the most significant of which is Vegoritida.
The surrounding area is ideal for alternative form of tourism and extreme sports. At the foot of Mount Vora, in the village of Panaghitsa, there is an airfield, considered to be the best in Europe, and next to it a specially constructed motocross course. In Panaghitsa, only 8km from Aghios Athanasios, there is also a small ski centre with two slopes covered with artificial snow. There is also an artificial rock face for climbing and facilities for flying box, archery tournaments, mountain biking, paragliding where you can land at the airfield in Kerasies at an altitude of 1600m.
With Aghios Athanasios as a starting point, the best excursions are to the nearby town of Edessa, the villages around lake Vegoritida and beautiful Nimfaio. Dare to combine skiing on Vora and the pleasures of the hot springs surrounded by beautiful countryside at the Spa of Loutraki in Pella.
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