In November of 1976—nearly three decades before the grand opening of the Rio-Antirrio bridge—the then-largest bridge in Greece and one of the largest in Europe at the time swung into operation. The High Bridge of Servia in Kozani, in western Macedonia, was engineered to connect the shores of the artificial Polyfytos Lake, a slender man-made reservoir nestled in the Aliakmonas River valley, drastically altering the landscape of the region. Spanning 1,372 meters in length and 13.5 meters in width, this bridge stands as a testament to the visionary Italian civil engineer Riccardo Morandi.


The bridge was born out of the necessity to span the newly created Polyfytos Lake, which itself was a result of the construction of the dam by the Public Power Corporation (PPC). The PPC owns the lake, which it has made available to local communities for fishing and leisure activities.

Indeed, the lake has become (though with somewhat diminished stocks) a prime fishing spot with species such as carp, bream, and eels thriving in its waters. Moreover, the Aliakmonas reservoir area serves as a crucial habitat for birds of prey, offering shelter and nourishment. However, the abrupt and forced creation of the lake undoubtedly had its impacts, including submerging a village that now lies underwater, the village of Neraida.

The village, built by Asia Minor refugees in 1929, likely took its name from the then Metropolitan Ioakeim, who was struck by the abundance of water and springs in the area. Legend has it, that the village was named after the fairies said to appear to its early inhabitants. By 1974, with the lake’s creation, Neraida was submerged, and the vast majority of its inhabitants moved to Athens, Thessaloniki, and Kozani. The few families that remained founded a new settlement approximately one kilometer northwest of the old site. Thanks to its privileged position on the lake’s shores, the village gradually saw tourist development.

Spring 2023 marked 47 years of uninterrupted operation for the High Bridge of Servia before it closed due to significant safety concerns sparked by the discovery of fractures in the tendons of a specific pillar. Problems with the bridge were already flagged in 2020, and the collapse of another of Morandi’s bridges in Genoa during a severe storm in 2018 certainly raised eyebrows. Nonetheless, the restoration works have been completed, and the bridge is now open and safe for all vehicles. Crossing it promises to be an unforgettable driving experience.

Some Tips for a Trip to the Area

Just 33 kilometers from the city lies Velvento, a town adorned with unique elements of Macedonian architecture, such as the old boys’ school and the refurbished mansion that now houses the Folklore Museum.

Velvento draws nature enthusiasts to spots like “Metochi“, with its tourist pavilion, and “Skepasmeno“, featuring a waterfall, small ponds, a plane tree forest, and picturesque trails.

In Servia, the most significant attraction is the Byzantine castle, with its ruins of churches, houses, and walls, all set against a backdrop of stunning views.

South of the town, the Platanoula stream flows into a small gorge, creating interesting geological formations and impressive rocky outcrops on its banks.

Certainly, even if you’re just passing through the area, taking the time to enjoy a coffee or meal in Neraida, with its breathtaking lake views and numerous quality, yet affordable dining options, is a must.

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