Kastoria (Καστοριά, Kastoriá, ˌkasto̞ɾˈja) is a city in northern Greece in the periphery of West Macedonia. It is the capital of Kastoria Prefecture, located at . The town's population is estimated as some 20,660 people (1991 census). It is situated on a promontory on the western shore of Lake Orestiada, in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains.


There are many theories regarding the name Kastoria. Perhaps the most dominant of these is that the name derives from the Greek word κάστορας (kástoras, meaning "beaver"). Trade in the animal's fur, sourced from nearby Lake Orestiada, has traditionally been an important element of the city's economy. Other theories propose that the name derives from the Greek word κάστρο (kástro, meaning "castle"; from the Latin word castrum) or from the mythical hero Κάστωρ (Kástōr), who may have been honoured in the area. From Greek, the name was borrowed into Turkish as Kesriye. The local Slavic name of the city is Kostur (Cyrillic: Костур).


  • Aposkepos (Απόσκεπος) (2001 pop: 135)
  • Chloi (Χλόη) (2001 pop: 819)
  • Kastoria
  • Kefalari (Κεφαλάρι) (2001 pop: 451)


Year Population Change Municipal population
1981 20,660 - -
1991 14,775 5,885/-28.48% -
2001 14,813 38/2.57% 16,218


Ancient History

Kastoria is believed to have ancient origins; it has been identified with the ancient town of Celetrum, which the Romans captured in 200 BC. The Byzantine historian Procopius records that it was later renamed Justinianopolis. The town's strategic position led to it being contested between the Byzantine Empire and the Despotate of Epirus during the 13th century; it was held by the Serbian Empire between 1331 and 1380.

Ottoman Era

Around 1385, the Ottoman Empire conquered Kastoria. During the First Balkan War (1912), Greece took Kastoria. The 1913 treaties of London and Bucharest confirmed Kastoria under Greek territory.


During both World War II and the Greek Civil War, the town was repeatedly fought over and heavily damaged in the process. It was nearly captured by the Communist ELAS movement in 1948, and the final battles of the civil war took place on the nearby Mount Grammos.

Jewish Community

In 1943 the Jewish population in Kastoria numbered over 980, composed predominantly of Ladino language speaking Sephardic Jews. Many family names were of Italian origin as a result of emigrations (originally from Spain) via Italy in 17th and 18th centuries.

In 1944, under Nazi German occupation during World War II, the Jewish community was devastated as part of a program of deliberate extermination of Jews during the Holocaust. Kastoria was liberated by Allied troops less than 4 months after the Jewish citizens were forced out. By the end of the war in 1945, 38 of the original population survived -the vast majority of the community killed in concentration camps.


Kastoria is renowned for its fur trade, which dominates the local economy. Indeed (as mentioned above) the town was possibly named after one of the former staples of the trade – the European beaver (kastóri in Greek), now extinct in the area. Trading in mink fur now predominates and every year an international showcase of fur takes place in the city. Other industries include the sale and distribution of locally grown produce, particularly wheat, apples, wine and fish. Recently a large shopping center has been built in the city of Kastoria. The town's airport is named Aristotelis Airport.


Kastoria is an important religious centre for the Greek Orthodox Church and is the seat of a metropolitan bishop. It originally had 72 Byzantine and medieval churches, of which 54 have survived. Some of these have been restored and provide a useful insight into Greek Orthodox styles of architecture and fresco painting. The Museum of Byzantine History located on Dexamenis Square houses many examples of Byzantine iconography.


Kastoria FC is the town's football team. It was established in 1963 when three local sides joined to form one stronger team representing the town. The team's most successful years to date were 1974 when it was promoted to the Greek first division and competed there for a year, and then 1980 when it won the Greek Cup after an impressive 5-2 victory over Iraklis FC in the final. The team are hoping to return to the first division this year as they are currently competing for the second division (Beta Ethniki) title.

Notable people


  • The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004.
  • Encyclopædia Britannica, 2005.
  • The Penguin Encyclopedia of Places, 1999.
  • Rough Guide to Greece, Mark Ellingham et al, 2000.


External links

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