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Vistonida and Porto Lagos, the lake and its harbor


[VISTONIDA] At the border between the prefectures of Xanthi and Rodopi there is a wetland of international importance  - the splendid Lake Vistonida, which has been included on the list of protected areas by the RAMSAR convention and has been declared a Specially Protected Area and a Special Protected Area of Mediterranean Interest. 

This area was once a coastal bay, but with the sediment deposits from the Kosynthos, Kompsatos and Travos rivers and the effect of sea currents, the southern opening was closed and a lake was created. In ancient times, Bistones lived around the lake with Diomedes as their king. They were one of the people who formed the nation of Thrace, and according to mythology, this is where Hercules' eight labor took place


Lake Vistonida has a surface area of 4.240 hectares and a maximum depth of 3.5 meters. It is surrounded by mashes, salt cedars, and reeds. Its real treasure and the main reason to visit is the wildlife there, in particular, the water birds. At least nine of the 260 species of birds that have been observed are rare or endangered worldwide. Among these are the Red-breasted Goose, the Lesser White-fronted Goose, the Ferruginous Duck, eagles such as the Eastern Imperial Eagle and the Greater Spotted Eagle, the Lesser Kestrel and the Dalmatian Pelican, as well as the White-headed Duck and the Slender-billed Curlew. If you are fortunate, you will be able to admire birds you have never seen before

It is worth continuing to the southern shore of the lake, the Porto Lagos Lagoon, and its quaint harbor. Its name, from the Latin, means ''lake harbor''. In 1948, local residents and scout troops planted a pine forest on the island outcrop to protect the settlement from the southerly winds. The forest is now home to a heron colony with 660 nests. From March through August, you can see the Grey Herons, the Little Egrets, and the Black-crowned Night Herons raising their young. You can also visit the picturesque chapel of Agios Nikolaos, which is attached to the Vatopedi Monastery. 


Information from experts about the treasures of the region is available at the Lake Vistonida Information Center, where you can also get ideas about possible routes to take and find eco-guides for your visit to the local natural habitats.