Boucharia-Nochtaria: Kozani's "mini-Cappadocia"

Boucharia-Nochtaria

In a corner of the Kozani-Grevena geopark, near the village of Mikrovalto in Kozani, there is an otherworldly creation of nature, the like of which has not been found in Greece to date - Boucharia-Nochtaria.

The enigmatic place is located in the centre of a wooded area in the south of the prefecture of Kozani between the settlements of Mikrovalto, Tranovalto and Livadero in the small Kamvounia mountain range.

The Nochtaria are impressive conical formations without the characteristic "stone hat" that end in a relatively sharp peak reminiscent of a fine wood cone/Photo: Giorgos Mastrogiannopoulos
The Nochtaria are impressive conical formations without the characteristic "stone hat" that end in a relatively sharp peak reminiscent of a fine wood cone/Photo: Giorgos Mastrogiannopoulos.

Towering, reddish and slightly conical, the Boucharia are rare for Greek geological standards and is a phenomenon that began in the area almost 70,000 years ago.

For centuries, the continuous erosion of the soil ate little by little the subsoil of the area, leading to the formation of huge earthen deposits that, despite the unstoppable geological changes, did not collapse and remain standing.

With a height that can reach up to 7 metres, these eerie formations are composed of sand, cobbles, marls, clay and an adhesive of iron oxides and silicon dioxide.

Their top is covered by a shale rock, which had the role of an umbrella, reminiscent to a great extent of theoretical "stone mushrooms" or, as it means in the local idiom, chimneys.

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At a distance of about one kilometer from Boucharia and through a verdant corridor, Nochtaria emerges to a large extent reminiscent of landscapes of Cappadocia/Photo: Giorgos Mastrogiannopoulos.

Equally interesting are the neighbouring Nochtaria. At a distance of about one kilometre from Boucharia and through a verdant corridor, Nochtaria emerges, reminiscent to a large extent of landscapes of Cappadocia.

Nochtaria are impressive conical formations without the characteristic "stone hat" that end in a relatively sharp peak reminiscent of a fine wood cone.

From a geological point of view, Nochtaria and Boucharia present exactly the same geological features with the only difference being that the former is clearly more numerous with a characteristic thin pyramidal shape.

Obviously, such an alien landscape made people's imagination run wild. It is no coincidence that the area has been associated with legends and folk beliefs that go beyond human logic, while often in the past Boucharia and the steep slopes of the area were a place of activity for bandits.

If you even find yourself in the area in cloudy weather, you immediately have a pervasive sense of eeriness, while the eerie shadows cast by the geological formations at sunset cause you incredible awe.

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Photo: George Mastrogiannopoulos.

According to the most widespread legend of the region, every night dark demons came out of Boucharia ready to devour anyone in their path. The locals were so terrified that they never spent the night in the area.

Once, in fact, the legend took on flesh and blood in a rather comically tragic way. One summer moonlit night four men from a neighbouring village disguised themselves as eerie creatures of the night and hid behind the Boucharia steal the crop from a nearby granary.

The disguised demons on seeing the unsuspecting watchman heading towards the warehouse burst out with loud screams and scared the panicked watcher to death, who fled leaving the wheat-filled storehouse in the hands of the robbers.

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Nochtaria/Photo: Giorgos Mastrogiannopoulos

In the dark years of the Second World War , of course, the region was a stronghold of the Resistance, while several residents from the surrounding villages ran to hide behind the cone-shaped formations in the overgrown oak forest, to escape the occupying forces.

How to go

Access to the area is through the village of Mikrovalto, while the route to the area takes about 40 minutes from the city of Kozani.

The best time to visit is in the afternoon, as the sunset – if you can make it – “dresses” the strange geophysical formations like a fairytale, giving you a magical image.

Damage has recently been noticed on the organised path and it is advisable not to deviate from it, as the area has steep slopes, cliffs and ravines.

Remember that the area is 446 kilometres from Athens and 166 kilometres from Thessaloniki.

Yanni Koutroudi is a columnist for Travel.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor