Kozani (Κοζάνη) is a city in northern Greece, capital of Kozani Prefecture and of West Macedonia periphery. It is located in the western part of Macedonia, in the northern part of the Aliakmonas river valley. The city lies 710 meters above sea level, 15 kilometers north-west of the artificial lake Polyfytos, 120 km south-west of Thessaloniki, between the mountains Pieria, Vermio, Bourinos and Askio. Its population is estimated at about 50,000. The climate of the area is continental with cold and dry winters, and hot summers.
Kozani is the home of the Technological Educational Institute of Western Macedonia and the University of Western Macedonia, with about 15,000 students from all over Greece and other places. It is also the seat of West Macedonia's court of appeal, police department, fire brigade, the seat of the I Army Corps of the Hellenic Army and of Servia and Kozani Bishop.
One of the most important aspects of local folklore is Kozani's carnival at the end of the winter, which retains much of the profanity of the ancient Dionysiac cult. Kozani is renowned in Greece and abroad for the production of the Greek Macedonian Saffron (Krokos Kozanis), in the near town of Krokos.
Kozani is a transport node between Central Macedonia, Thessaly and Epirus. The nearest airport is Filippos Airport, 4 km from the city, IATA code: KZI. The airport was first opened in the mid-20th century. Kozani is situated near the Egnatia Highway, which connects the coast of the Ionian Sea with Thessaloniki and Turkish borders.
According to the prevailing opinion, the name comes from the village of Epirus Kósdiani, the origin of settlers of Kozani in 1392. The settlement was first named Kózdiani, which then, it was changed into Kóziani, and in the end into Kozáni.
The first recorded mention of Kozani is in an Ottoman register of 1528, as a settlement with 91 houses, 23 singles and 15 widows. One of the most important colonizers of Kozani was the chief shepherd Ioannis Trantas, who settled about 100 families. His son, Charisios Trantas, managed to obtain a Sultan's firman in 1664, according to the terms of which the town came under the protection of the Sultan's mother, was endowed with many privileges, and became forbidden for the Turks to settle in.
In 1664, the magnificent church of Agios Nikolaos was built. In 1668, the library and the famous school of Kozani were founded. During the 17th and 18th century, commercial relations with the countries of central Europe gave the opportunity for the city to flourish economically. During the 19th century, as foreigner travellers narrate, the population of the town was Greek, and was growing (Leake 1835:305 and Bouè 1854:87).
The town's growth was disrupted in 1770, because of conflict that erupted between Kozani's local inhabitants and Kozanite merchants in central Europe, who contributed to the town's prosperity; even more catastrophically, the city was pillaged by Turkish beys in 1770. A subsequent incursion by Aslan bey, in 1830, ravaged the city immensely. According to the 1904 population census, 12,000 Greeks and 350 Vlachs were living in Kozani at the time.
The city now combines modern with old architecture. Some magnificent buildings are the Clock tower, the Townhall, the Folklore museum, the "Valtadoreio" Gymnasium, the National Bank building, the "Ermioneion" Hotel and the mansions of Georgios Lassanis and Grigorios Vourkas. The Municipal library of Kozani called "Kovendareios" is the second biggest in Greece, and it has 150,000 books, rare publications, valuable documents, and one of the rare copies of Rigas Feraios Charter. For this reason Kozani was included in the National Cultural Network of Cities with object the promotion of the Book and Reading. Thus it was established the Institute of Book and Reading and Kozani is known as City of Books. Today Kozani is the administrative, commercial, economic, and transport centre of the region of West Macedonia.
The city is mostly known for the important contribution to the Greek electricity supply, and a large part of the population works in the factories which produce electricity from coal (DEI - Greek national electrical company). In the region, 80% of the electric energy of the country is produced. Other famous products are marble, Saffron (Krokos Kozanis), fruits, local wines and specialized arts and crafts industry. A lot of banks have branches in Kozani. The local bank is named co-operative Bank of Kozani.
The Commercial Exhibition of Kozani takes part in the Exhibition Center of West Macedonia in Koila Kozanis every September. Many firms from Greece and other Balkan countries participate especially with locals products.
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The public transit in the city is provided by minibuses, and between the center and the municipal departments, it is provided by Transit buses. The traffic problems of the city have become more severe during the last few years.
Kozani has 20 municipal departments and it is developing into a nodal town of the Western Balkans, with areas and activities of a wider regional nature. Within this context, the municipality of Kozani is creating a modern satellite town, the Kozani Zone of Alternate Urban Planning (ZEP). The Municipal Corporation of alternate planning and development of Kozani S.A.(DEPEPOK) was established in order to implement the projects of the ZEP.
The ZEP is strategically located on 50 ha south-west of Kozani, and aims to become a model development centre, attracting an urban population and economic activities from throughout Western Macedonia in Greece and the Western Balkans.
The 20 municipal departments of Kozani are:
|Municipal Department||Population||Area (km²)|
|Kila (Kila - Kardia - Melissia)||1,591||32.91|
|Municipality of Kozani||49,812||343.00|
|Avg high temperature °C (°F)||6 (43)||8 (48)||11 (53)||17 (63)||20 (69)||25 (78)||29 (85)||27 (82)||25 (77)||18 (66)||13 (56)||6 (43)||17 (64)|
|Highest Recorded Temperature °C (°F)||18 (66)||18 (66)||21 (70)||27 (81)||30 (86)||36 (97)||37 (99)||35 (95)||31 (88)||27 (81)||25 (77)||16 (61)||37 (99)|
|Avg low temperature °C (°F)||-1 (29)||0 (32)||1 (34)||6 (44)||10 (50)||13 (57)||16 (62)||16 (61)||13 (56)||8 (47)||4 (40)||0 (33)||7 (45)|
|Lowest Recorded Temperature °C (°F)||-16 (3)||-8 (16)||-11 (12)||-5 (23)||2 (37)||7 (46)||11 (52)||7 (45)||7 (45)||-2 (28)||-5 (23)||-12 (9)||-16 (3)|
There are 18 Primary schools in Kozani, and another 8, in the municipal departments of Vatero, Kariditsa, Koila, Lefkovrysi, Lefkopigi, Nea Charavgi, Xirolimni and Petrana. The Gymnasiums of the city are 8, and there are two more in the municipal departments of Lefkopigi and Xirolimni. There are also 4 Lyceums, 4 Technical Schools (TEE), some Business Schools and one municipal Odeum.
Kozani is the home of the Technological Educational Institute of Western Macedonia - one of the biggest in Greece (founded on 1976). Three of its Faculties are in the city - the Faculty of Administration and Economy, Technological Applications and Health. (The rest of them are in other places of West Macedonia). The seat of the University of Western Macedonia and its Faculty of Engineering, they are also in Kozani. The University was founded in 2002.
The municipal Band is named Pandora. It was founded in 1902, and it takes part in all the events and celebrations.
A typical dish in Kozani is the so called Giaprakia. The main ingredients are meat and rice in salty vine-leaf, having the shape of a ball. It is used often as Christmas food. Kichi (Kozanitiko kichi) is called another local dish, which is actually a cheese pie with circular form.
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