Historical review of Nestorio

A legend connects the area with Nestor, the son of Agamemnon, who, after the murder of his mother, Clytemnestra, and Aegisthus by his brother Orestes, fled with him to the area to avoid revenge. ere, at the foot of Mount Grammos, he founded Nestorio, and his brother Orestes, founded Argos Orestiko, a little further away.

But there is also an old tradition that traces Alexander the Great to Nestorio, when his father Philip II sent him, still a teenager, to the region to toughen up, become a man and train in the art of war on the rugged slopes of Mount Grammos. The friends he made here, tradition states, formed the core of the famous “Macedonian phalanx”.

Contrary to the beautiful legend and eloquent tradition, history is sparse on information, at least until the middle of the 10th century, when the region was occupied by the Bulgarians, only to be pushed back later, in 1028, by the Byzantine emperor Basil II the Bulgar-killer. After the capture of the city by the Franks in 1204, the area was part of the Despotate of Epirus and in 1259 it was annexed to the empire of Nicaea. Later, until the 14th century, although the historical evidence is again scarce, there are clear indications that Nestramio (the name by which the village was known at that time) experienced successive raids by Slavs, Albanians, and Turks. During the Ottoman occupation, the resistance of its inhabitants was continuous and strong, and Agios Nestoras (the new name of the settlement towards the end of the Turkish occupation) acquired a great reputation for its insubordination. Finally, after the liberation wars of 1912-13, the region was integrated into the modern Greek state, so the name Nestorio was finally established. From the beginning of the 20th century, the fate of the village was inevitably and decisively affected by the historical events that marked the fate of the area. It became a theater of conflicts and a focus of resistance against Turks and Bulgarians during the years of the Macedonian Struggle (1904-1908), while it was deservedly represented in the subsequent national struggles, in the Balkans (1912-1913), in the First World War (1914-1918) and in Asia Minor campaign (1920-1922).

In the “Mesopolemos” period (the period in between Wars) Nestorio experienced a prolonged peaceful period of economic growth and prosperity. The faded photographs of the time reveal a lively town – the administrative center of a wider area which, together with the surrounding villages, had 5000 inhabitants and took pride in its beautiful “Didaktirio” (school) where 400 children studied, its home economics school, and the dance school it had. But all this did not last long, since in the years that followed Nestorio was severely tested.

Here, in the Nestorio region, the Second World War knocked on Greece’s door. In an outpost on the slopes of Grammos, the first Italian shells fell in the early hours of October 28. After the collapse of the front, many heroic fighters surrendered their weapons, to be kept by the Nestorites. With these weapons, the National Resistance first began, in the fall of ’41. The inhabitants of Nestorio, which became the center of the struggle against the conquerors during the Occupation, organized en masse along its lines. The German retaliation for this heroic stand was devastating. In 1943, they twice set fire to Nestorio and drove dozens of its inhabitants to be executed. Six hundred and eighty houses were reduced to ashes. The destruction was total. t was completed by the fratricidal Civil War (1946-49), the epilogue of which was written in Grammos, the last seat of resistance of the defeated. A natural consequence of these historical adventures, but also of the state’s indifference, was the great migration stream, which devastated many villages and swept away the population of the region.

A thousand permanent residents remained in Nestorio, but they did not resign. They kept the place alive in the difficult post-war years, they stoically faced underdevelopment and unemployment and are enjoying the best days the village has known for a few years, which today redeems its natural wealth by methodically and exemplary developing alternative tourism. It has what it takes: rare natural beauty, vast forests, gurgling waters, mountain lakes, imposing gorges, Byzantine monasteries, arched bridges, old stone-built villages, a great culinary tradition, and a rare tradition of hospitality. Finally, it has something unique: the River Party on the banks of Aliakmons, a cultural-musical event that made Nestorio known throughout Greece.