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Periphery: West Macedonia
Prefecture : Florina

Florina (Greek: Φλώρινα, known also by several alternative names) is a town and municipality in mountainous northwestern Macedonia, Greece. Its motto is, 'Where Greece begins'.[1] It is also the Metropolitan seat for the region. It lies in the central part of Florina peripheral unit, of which it is the capital. Florina belongs to the periphery of West Macedonia. The town's population is 16,771 people (2001 census). It is in a wooded valley about 13 km (8 mi) south of the international border of Greece with the Republic of Macedonia.


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Geography
Sakoulevas river and the Cathedral of Florina.

It 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 airport is situated to the east. 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. During the hot summer months it becomes a busy market town.

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 historic Via Egnatia is situated to the east. The new GR-3 superhighway will run east of Florina.

Florina, in the Ottoman period

Name

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.

Sakoulevas river in the town of Florina. (Source)

Florina city hall. (Source)

Municipality

The municipality Florina was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 4 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[2]

Florina
Kato Kleines
Meliti
Perasma

Subdivisions

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

Alona
Armenochori
Florina
Koryfi
Mesonisi
Proti
Skopia
Trivouno

History
The City Hall.
Neoclassical houses at the shoreline of Sakoulevas river.

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.[3] By 1385, the place had fallen to the Ottomans.[4] An Ottoman defter (cadastral tax census) for the year 1481 records a settlement of 243 households.[5]

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 and Turkish Muslims and the other half Christian Bulgarians."[6]

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 the Monastir 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%.[7] 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, this presenting to the outside world a "Greek-like" picture of the area.[7]

Florina and its inhabitants greatly contributed to the Macedonian Struggle. Prominent leaders included Nikolaos Pyrzas,[8] and Petros Chatzitasis.[9] Former President Christos Sartzetakis originates from Florina through his mother.

In the late 19th century, it became a centre of Slavic agitation for independence from the Ottoman Empire, but in 1912 it became part of Greece following the First Balkan War. 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:[10] by 1946, seven Slav Macedonian partisan units were operating in the Florina area,[11] 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.[12] When the Communists withdrew from Florina in 1949, thousands of people were evacuated or fled to Yugoslavia and the Eastern Bloc.

Macedonian Dance Florina region

Economy
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.
Landmarks

Archaeological Museum of Florina.[14]
Florina Byzantine Museum.[15]
Florina Museum of Modern Art.[16]

Notable people

Augoustinos Kantiotes - Metropolitan of Florina.
Necati Cumalı - Turkish novelist, short-story writer and poet
Elpida Karamandi - an Aromanian partisan founder of a local Aromanian school
Pavlos Voskopoulos - leader of the Rainbow party, which describes itself as the "Political Party of Macedonian Minority in Greece".
Andreas Tsipas (Andreja Čipov) - an ethnic Macedonians communist leader during the Greek Civil War

Historical population
Year Town population Municipality population
1981 12,573 -
1991 12,355 14,873
2001 14,985 17,500
References

^ Florina official website.
^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
^ Kravari, p. 247.
^ Kravari, p. 55, n. 178.
^ Kravari, p. 248.
^ Johann Georg von Hahn: Reise von Belgrad nach Salonik. Viena: 1861, p. 121.
^ a b 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
^ Simpson, Neil (1994). Macedonia Its Disputed History. Victoria: Aristoc Press, 105,106 & 94. ISBN 0646204629.
^ "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, radiofono.gr
^ "Archaeological Museum of Florina". Web.archive.org. 2007-04-10. Archived from the original on 10 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
^ "Byzantine Museum of Florina". Web.archive.org. 2007-04-13. Archived from the original on 13 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-25.
^ "Florina Museum of Modern Art". Web.archive.org. 2007-04-13. Archived from the original on 13 April 2007. Retrieved 2009-07-25.

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

Notes

^ Kravari, Vassiliki (1989) (in French). Villes et villages de Macédoine occidentale. Realites byzantines. 2. Paris: Editions P. Lethielleux. ISBN 2283604524.

Municipalities and communities of Florina prefecture

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