Edessa in Macedonia (Northern Greece) – A naturally cool haven

Edessa in Macedonia (Northern Greece) : Mini-Amsterdam, criss-crossed by canals and aqueducts, can be dubbed a ‘water city’

By Haris Argyropoulos


According to the celebrated late novelist Menelaos Lountemis, Edessa, the main town in the border region of Pella, Macedonia, was “a stepping stone for God to the heavens.”

Best known for its waterfalls, including Greece’s highest at 70 meters, Edessa might be dubbed a “water city,” as it is criss-crossed by canals and aqueducts, resembling a mini-Amsterdam and making it a cool place in more ways than one: Surrounded by running waters and rich greenery, the locals follow an unharried pace of life, which invariably impresses visitors. Edessa is also the center of a fruit-growing region, notably cherries.

Sitting at the northern foot of lush Mt Vermio, the city flourished in the interwar period mainly as a textile center, with factories powered by its abundant waters. Since the early 1990s, Edessa has been rediscovered by mortals as a stepping stone to a haven for nature lovers and outdoor activities in the wider area.

The center of Edessa is dominated by a six-clock tower. Nearby, in Kioupri, is a fine single-arched old stone bridge over the river. The waterfalls can be seen from several angles, including from a narrow pass behind it where the roar is loudest. The waterfalls park includes the outdoor Water Museum, where visitors can see how the old factories were powered, plus an information and recreation complex for visitors.

The city is more than a millennium old and features a number of restored old churches and mansions, particularly in the old Christian neighborhood of Varosi — the historic center of Edessa. At the end of Varosi is Psilos Vrahos (“High Cliff”), which offers a superb view of Vermio and the surrounding villages.

Pella prefecture abounds in opportunities and facilities for outdoor activities throughout the year, including rafting and kayaking, cycling, paragliding, gliding, motocross, archery, skiing, snowboarding and horseback riding.

Six kilometers from Edessa are the artificial lake and wetlands of Agra, covering an area of about 600 hectares, which periodically host more than 130 bird species, some of them rare and protected, and where organized facilities for boat tours and bird watching are available.

Further north, 32 km from Edessa, in a wonderful setting deep in the lush slopes of Mt Voras (Kaimaktsalan), near the village of Loutraki, is the Pozar spa — famous since antiquity. Nearby, the Black Forest on the slopes of Mt Voras is rich in flora and fauna. November and May are especially recommended for scenery.

Returning south from Pozar and continuing on the road west, 23 km from Edessa, is Lake Vegoritida, one of Greece’s largest and most beautiful, at an altitude of 600 m. Near the picturesque town of Arnissa — on the shore of the lake — is what is reputed to be one of the best glider ports in Europe, thanks to excellent air currents in the area. The port, operated by the Edessa Gliding Club, draws die-hards of the sport from many countries.

Further west, a right turn on the road leads to the very attractive, unique village of Palaios Aghios Athanasios, reminiscent of mountain resorts in central Europe. The road continues to climb up the mountain, ultimately leading to the modern ski center, which has 16 trails of total length 13 km for skiing and snowboarding and a 5-km trail for cross country skiing, at elevations ranging between 2,070 and 2,390 meters. The center has accommodation facilities, which can also be found at Aghios Athanasios and Panagitsa.

Northeast of Edessa, in the area of Aridaia and on the slopes of Mt Paiko, is the village of Notia which has yielded numerous archaeological finds, dating from the era of Alexander the Great and the Roman conquest, attesting to a rich historical past.

Finally, 50 km east of Edessa and 40 km from Thessaloniki is the archaeological site of Pella, the ancient Macedonian capital.

Read the rest of this informative article in ekathimerini.com

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