Travelling through the lengths of Greece, you will come across the most varied landscape; from lush green hills to black lava cliffs to Grand Canyon-like rock shapes.
Just shy of the martyr city of Servia, about a 30-minute drive from the city of Kozani, lie some Grand Canyon-like formations similar to which are nowhere to be found in Greece!
These unique formations are called “Bouharia”, “Nohtaria” and the ‘Red Night”.
The famous Bouharia of Mikrovalto
These umbrella-like formations have emerged from continuous soil erosions over thousands of years. They consist of sand, clay, cobblestones and adhesive iron and silicon oxides that give this unique red colour. The top of each column is covered by a slate slab that, in the evolution of the formation, went on to give this typical umbrella shape.
In the local dialect “Bouhari” means chimney so for centuries, locals tried to interpret this unique phenomenon by telling stories about “The chimneys of demons” and “The ladies with the umbrellas”- two of the names describing the area that has prevailed up until today.
There are various myths concerning “Bouharia”. It was said that at night these formations turned into demons so it was advised not to cross the area after sunset – a myth that was made up mainly to intimidate young children not to explore the area and play further away from their parents’ supervision. Another story says that 100 years ago some thieves from the village intending to steal wheat from storage, painted their faces, dressed in rags and came out of the “Bouharia” area screaming. The people guarding the storage got scared and started running in the opposite direction allowing the thieves to carry out their plan uninterrupted.
Demon myths aside though, these formations served as a shelter for many locals during the Nazi occupation (1942-1944). Due to the mountainous area, this was the best spot to seek protection but in order for children to follow their mothers in the area the myth was reshaped and in the new version of it, it was said that instead of demons, fairies came out of the bulbs to protect the people.
The geopark of “Bouharia” was built in 2008. There is a parking space for visitors, two well-maintained pathways for visitors to follow and two kiosks. The terrain is hilly and visitors are advised to carry with them water and lunch as there are no facilities or cafeterias in close proximity.
The breathtaking Nohtaria
“Nohtari” has the same meaning as “Bouhari” but without the chimney cap. “Nohtaria” are conical formations, made similarly to bouharia, scattered all the way through the stream of Potamia on the border of the village of Livadero. The formations are 15 meters tall and to reach there visitors must drive down a forest road. Perhaps the most impressive of Nochtaria can be found in Kokkino Nochto, south of Livadero, opposite the village of Elati.
The unique “Red Night” of Livadero
Another impressive geological monument of nature is the ‘Red Night” in the mountainous area of Kamvounia which is at a direct distance of 7.5km from Nochtaria! This vertical red cliff is about 30 meters high and it consists of multiple anthropomorphic geo shapes.
Images by Kostas Haratsaris ©