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Administrative Region : West Macedonia
Regional unit : Florina

Florina (Greek: Φλώρινα, known also by some alternative names) is a town and municipality in the mountainous northwestern Macedonia, Greece. Its motto is, 'Where Greece begins'.[2]

The town of Florina is the capital of the Florina regional unit and also the seat of the homonym municipality. It belongs to the administrative region of West Macedonia. The town's population is 17,686 people (2011 census). It is in a wooded valley about 13 km (8 mi) south of the international border of Greece with the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia).

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Florina is the gateway to the Prespa Lakes and, until the modernisation of the road system, of the old town of Kastoria. It is located west of Edessa, northwest of Kozani, and northeast of Ioannina and Kastoria cities. Outside the Greek borders it is in proximity to Korçë in Albania and Bitola in the Republic of Macedonia. The nearest airports are situated to the east and the south (in Kozani). The mountains of Verno lie to the southwest and Varnous to the northwest.

Winters bring heavy snow and long periods of temperature below freezing point. Furthermore, the town and the surrounding valley is usually covered in thick fog during the winter months that may last even for weeks under specific conditions. During the summer months it becomes a busy market town with an economy boosted by summer and, mostly, winter tourism due to the heavy snowfalls and the nearby ski resorts.

Even though Florina was the site of the first rail line built in the southern Ottoman provinces in the late 19th century, its rail system remains undeveloped. Today, Florina is linked by a single track standard gauge line to Thessaloniki and Bitola, and to Kozani (meter gauge) where it was intended to continue south and link up with the terminal in Kalambaka, in Thessaly but this did not proceed due to the 1930s financial crisis.

Florina is passed by GR-2 (Lake Prespa - Edessa) and GR-3/E65 (Kozani - Florina - Niki - Bitola). The new Motorway 27 (A27) will run east of Florina with its Florina-Niki segment already operational since 2015. The historic Via Egnatia is situated to the east.


Florina is one of the coldest towns in Greece, because of its elevation and geographic position. Heavy snowfalls, thick fog and below-freezing temperatures are common during the winter months, while the summers are mild. Under the Köppen climate classification, Florina has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa) with strong hot-summer continental climate (Dfa) influences.

Climate data for Florina (1961-1997)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 18.0
Average high °C (°F) 4.6
Daily mean °C (°F) 0.5
Average low °C (°F) −3.5
Record low °C (°F) −29.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 57.6
Average precipitation days 12.0 12.0 12.3 11.3 11.2 7.4 6.1 5.8 6.1 8.4 10.8 12.9 116.3
Average snowy days 7.5 6.3 4.5 0.8 0 0 0 0 0 0.3 1.8 5.9 27.1
Average relative humidity (%) 82.1 78.1 70.9 64.0 63.4 59.8 57.4 58.3 63.9 72.1 78.7 81.8 69.21

Florina, in the Ottoman period

On 18 January 2012, a temperature of -25.1 °C was recorded by the HNMS's station[4] with several reports, however, in the local press for temperatures in villages of the municipality that reached -32 ° C, but there was no official record of such temperature. The National Observatory of Athens's station reported a temperature of -22.2 °C a day earlier, while the same station continuously recorded minimum temperatures below -20 °C from 16/1/12 until 19/1/12, with the average maximum temperature for January just -0.6 °C, and the prevalence for 13 consecutive days of temperatures below 0 °C 24 hours a day.[5] The above situation resulted in the Greek General Secretariat of Civil Protection to declare the municipality of Florina in a state of emergency on 16/1/12, at the request of the mayor of Florina, due to the polar temperatures and the intense snowfall that prevailed for days.

The city's original Byzantine name, Χλέρινον (Chlérinon, "full of green vegetation"), derives from the Greek word χλωρός (chlōrós, "fresh" or "green vegetation"). The name was sometimes Latinized as Florinon (from the Latin flora, "vegetation") in the later Byzantine period, and in early Ottoman documents the forms Chlerina and Florina are both used, with the latter becoming standard after the 17th century. The form with [f] (φλωρός) is a local dialect form of χλωρός in Greek. The Slavic name for the city is Lerin (Лерин), which is a borrowing of the Byzantine Greek name, but with the loss of the initial [x] characteristic of the local dialect. The Albanian name for the city is Follorinë.[6]

Sakoulevas river in the town of Florina. (Source)

Florina city hall. (Source)


The current municipality of Florina was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 4 former municipalities, that since 2011 became municipal units:[7]

Kato Kleines

The municipality has an area of 819.698 km2, and the municipal unit 150.634 km2.[8]
Municipal Unit subdivisions

The municipal unit of Florina is further divided into the following communities:


Within the boundaries of the present-day city lie the remains of a Hellenistic settlement on the hill of Agios Panteleimon.[9] Archaeologists excavated on the site in 1930-1934, but a hotel was later built over the ruins. Excavations began again in the 1980s and the total excavated area is now around 8000 metres square. The buildings uncovered are mostly residential blocks, and the range of finds suggests that the site was continuously inhabited from the 4th century BC until its destruction by fire in the 1st century BC. Many of these finds are now on display in the Archaeological Museum of Florina.

The town is first mentioned in 1334, when the Serbian king Stefan Dušan established a certain Sphrantzes Palaeologus as commander of the fortress of Chlerenon.[10] By 1385, the place had fallen to the Ottomans.[11] An Ottoman defter (cadastral tax census) for the year 1481 records a settlement of 243 households.[12]
Nikolaos (Lakis) Pyrzas

In 1821 the Greeks were about 80 families.[13] Austrian diplomat Johann Georg von Hahn visited the city in 1861 and wrote about it in his travel log From Belgrade to Salonica. In it he writes that "[a]bout the houses in Florina, we should indicate that there are at most 3000, with half of the population Albanian, Slav and Turkish Muslims and the other half Christian Greeks and (about 300) Bulgarians."[14] In 1896 French diplomat and traveller Victor Bérard visited Florina and describes the settlement as containing 1500 houses of Albanians and "converted Slavs" -who, according to Berard, considered themselves Greeks and spoke Greek- , around 100 Turkish families, and 500 Christian-Greek families.[15] Greeks from Florina participated in the Greek Revolution of 1821 with the most important fighter being Aggelinas who also fought in Crete while others also fought in Mesologgi.[16] Members of Filiki Eteria were the brothers Loukas Nedelkos and Nikolaos Nedelkos, who were born in the Florina region.

The demographic composition of the area the 19th and early 20th centuries is unclear as many factors contributed to the ethnic orientation of the people; out of these religion was particularly important thus giving rise to a proselytism struggle between the Greek Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Bulgarian Exarchate (established in 1870). In 1886, 78.4% of the Christian population of the Florina kaza (district) - a part of Manastir Vilayet (province) - was aligned with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and 21.6% with the Bulgarian Exarchate, however by 1900 the Patriarchatists had dropped to 50.9% and Exarchatists had risen to 49.1%.[17] The actual Greek-speaking element in this area was concentrated in urban centres where it participated in the religious, administrative, social, and educational sectors of life.[citation needed]Florina and its inhabitants greatly contributed to the Macedonian Struggle. Prominent leaders included Nikolaos Pyrzas,[18] and Petros Chatzitasis.[19] Former President Christos Sartzetakis originates from Florina through his mother.

In the late 19th century, it became a centre of Slavic agitation[citation needed] for independence from the Ottoman Empire, but in 1912 it became part of Greece following the First Balkan War. Muslim Albanians from Florina and the wider region during the population exchange (1923) based on religious criteria were sent to Turkey, and mainly resettled in Bursa.[6][20] The town was again in the firing line during World War I, during which it was occupied by Bulgaria, and during the Axis Occupation in World War II, when the town became a centre of Slavic separatism.

For part of the Greek Civil War (1946–1949) the mountains of the Florina area were under communist control. The Slavic-Macedonian National Liberation Front, later simply the National Liberation Front or NOF, had a significant presence in the area:[21] by 1946, seven Slav Macedonian partisan units were operating in the Florina area,[22] and NOF had a regional committee based in Florina. When the NOF merged with the Democratic Army of Greece (DSE), many Slav Macedonians in the region enlisted as volunteers in the DSE.[23] When the Communists were defeated on February 12, 1949 by the Greek army thousands of communists and Slav Macedonians were evacuated or fled to Yugoslavia and the Eastern Bloc.

Macedonian Dance Florina region

The main street of the city.

Florina is a market town with an economy dominated by agriculture, forestry, summer and winter tourism, cross-border trading and the sale of local produce (especially grain, grapes, and vegetables). It also has textile mills and is known for locally manufactured leather handicrafts. Its university changed in 2002 from being a branch of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, to a part of the University of Western Macedonia. After 2004, four departments that previously belonged to the Aristotle University, reinforced its potential.

Florina has 8 radio stations,[13] 2 daily political newspapers, 4 weekly ones, one women's press and two newspapers on sports.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the area lost much of its population to emigration, both to Athens and Thessaloniki as well as US, Canada, Australia and Germany. Following Greece's EU membership and the economic upturn, many from Germany returned.

Pedestrian street at the centre.

Archaeological Museum of Florina.[25]
Florina Museum of Modern Art.[26]
The Florina Art Gallery[27]
Folklore Museum of the Aristotle Association
Folklore Museum of the Culture Club
Ptolemaida-Florina coal mine

Neoclassical houses at the shoreline of Sakoulevas river.
Historical population
Year Town Municipal unit Municipality
1981 12,573 -
1991 12,355 14,873 -
2001 14,985 17,500 -
2011 17,907 19,985 32,881

Movies of the Greek cinema filmed in the area, mostly by Theodoros Angelopoulos include:

The Beekeeper (film)
The Suspended Step of the Stork
Ulysses' Gaze

Notable people

Dimitrios Makris, Member of Parliament and Minister
Necati Cumalı - Turkish novelist, short-story writer and poet
Pavlos Voskopoulos - politician and leader of the Rainbow party
Alexis Alexoudis, footballer
Nikolaos Pyrzas, leader during the Macedonian Struggle
Mary Coustas, actress
Nadia Tass, director and actres


"Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
Florina official website.
"Mean Florina Climatic Averages". Hellenic National Meteorological Service. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
Α.Ε., — Δημοσιογραφικός Οργανισμός Λαμπράκη. " - Ο πιο βαρύς χειμώνας όλων των εποχών εφέτος". TO BHMA. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
"NOA's Monthly Weather Report for January 2012" (PDF).
Baltsiotis, Lambros (2011). "The Muslim Chams of Northwestern Greece: The grounds for the expulsion of a "non-existent" minority community". European Journal of Turkish Studies. 12.. para. 28-29; footnote 48. "The Albanian claims on the Albanian speaking population of the areas of Kastoria [Kostur in Albanian] and Florina [Follorinë in Albanian] did not ensure the non inclusion of this Albanian speaking Muslim population in the Greco-Turkish exchange of populations. Nevertheless, these claims and related struggles were far from leading to any major bilateral or international debate."
Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (in Greek)
"Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2015.
Maria Akamati-Lilibati & Ioannis M. Akamatis, The Hellenistic City of Florina. Ministry of Culture (Greece), 2006. ISBN 960-86162-3-9 p53ff
Kravari, p. 247.
Kravari, p. 55, n. 178.
Kravari, p. 248.
Romaiou, Konstantinos. ΕΛΛΑΣ. 2. Giovani (Γιοβάνη). p. 492.
Johann Georg von Hahn: Reise von Belgrad nach Salonik. Viena: 1861, p. 121.
Hart, Laurie Kain (2006). "Provincial anthropology, circumlocution, and the copious use of everything." Journal of Modern Greek Studies. 24. (2): 310: "The extreme population movements of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in (what was to become) the western Macedonian border area of Greece expose what Patrick Finney has called the “longue durée quality of nation-formation (Finney 1993). They include not only the 1919 Bulgarian-Greek population exchange and the Greek-Turkish exchange of 1923, but also innumerable significant, informal, earlier shifts to towns such as Florina by Muslim and Christian Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Gypsies, Jews, as well as the immigration of Greek Christians from the South after the mid-nineteenth century Ottoman Tanzimat reforms." p. 314. "Florina was not much admired by European travelers in the dying days of the Ottoman Empire, particularly, it seems, in contrast to its rival a little to the south, Kastoria. The French traveler Bérard describes it in 1896 as consisting of 1500 houses of Albanians and “converted Slavs,” with perhaps a hundred “Turkish” families and 500 Christian families. “These Slavs nonetheless call themselves Greek and speak Greek—with us at least” (Bérard 1911 (1896):307). Bérard identifies only a few hundred Bulgarian sympathizers, but notes that the local Turkish administration is pro-Bulgarian."
Melios, Lazaros (1998). History of Florina (Greek: Από την Ιστορία της Φλώρινας).
Richard Clogg, Minorities in Greece: Aspects of a Plural Society, pp. 123-124
Douglas Dakin, the Macedonian Struggle, 1985, pp 65-67
Hellenic Army General Staff, Directorate of Army History, The Macedonian Struggle and the events in Thrace, 1979, pp 115
Gingeras, Ryan (2009). Sorrowful Shores: Violence, Ethnicity, and the End of the Ottoman Empire 1912-1923. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 158–159. ISBN 9780199561520.
Simpson, Neil (1994). Macedonia Its Disputed History. Victoria: Aristoc Press, 105,106 & 94. ISBN 0-646-20462-9.
"Les Archives de la Macedonine, Fond: Aegean Macedonia in NLW" - (Field report of Mihail Keramidzhiev to the Main Command of NOF), 8 July 1945
Η Τραγική αναμέτρηση, 1945-1949 – Ο μύθος και η αλήθεια. Ζαούσης Αλέξανδρος" (ISBN 9607213432).
greek radio guide,
"Archaeological Museum of Florina". 10 April 2007. Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
"Florina Museum of Modern Art". 13 April 2007. Archived from the original on 13 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-25.

Museums of Macedonia web site (text under Creative CommonsAttribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)

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


^ Kravari, Vassiliki (1989). Villes et villages de Macédoine occidentale. Realites byzantines (in French). 2. Paris: Editions P. Lethielleux. ISBN 2-283-60452-4.

Municipalities and communities of Florina prefecture


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