Weekend excursions offer rest and mental uplift! Just what we need in order to “get by” until the next trip.
Here’s what we suggest: Discover Veria! Plus the surrounding area (it includes many-many more options!). We live in Veria! So we can be your guides around our city!
In short, Veria is one of the oldest cities in Greece, with references to Thucydides and a very important city (the second largest after Pella) of the kingdom of Philip II of Macedon. It was conquered by the Romans and Apostle Paul has preached here to the Jewish and Greek communities of the city in AD 50/51 or 54/55. Its rich history is eminent in the numerous sights around the city. Built at the foot of Vermio, it is known for its traditional architecture in its old neighborhoods as well as the numerous Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches.
What is worth seeing in the city
Start from the picturesque, old neighborhoods, on both banks of “Tripotamos” river that crosses the city: stroll on the cobbled streets of “Kyriotissa”, the Christian Quarter of the city, with the renovated, as well as new houses with enclosed balconies, built along the architecture of the traditional ones. The “Sarafoglou” mansion (mid 18th c.), a replica of Veria’s traditional houses, has been restored and functions as a folklore museum which is, unfortunately, closed to the public, except on the occasion of a few summer events that take place there! Behind the tall fences and among the houses of this quarte, Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches pop up every so and then.
Take the way up towards the “Clock Square” (or “Raktivan Square”). The square is dominated by the exquisite building of the former Courthouse, built in the years when the city was under the Ottoman regime. It was here that the Turkish commander handed over Veria to the Greek army on 16 October 1912. Built in the same period, the school building nearby framed by “Mendrese Mosque” on one side and “Apostle Paul’s Altar” on the other! It’s the altar where Apostle Paul preached in front of the city’s people and today is visited by large numbers of pilgrims.
Move on to the Jewish Quarter in “Barbouta” area, where stately mansions and folk houses stand right over the steep bank of the river. Take the road at the right of the Clock Square (as you look at the old courthouse) and pass through the arcade in the open courtyard of the district with the paved lanes. In the heart of the Jewish District, stands the stone-built Synagogue, built in line with the houses, the most ancient synagogue in the Northern Greece, with elaborate interior decoration; impressive wood carved ceilings and vivid mosaic tiles. The Mikveh (a sacred bath) is still preserved in it. Nowadays, the Synagogue is closed , however it occasionally opens for Jews who travel to Veria to pray. There are two or three beautiful hotels in this neighborhood, in full harmony with the environment. Just before the bridge, three magnificent restored mansions, painted with striking colors, boast the green background of the riverside flora. These are: the “Tsartsani mansion” (built in 1872, inhabited once by the family of a Jewish high rank priest). It houses the “Olganos” (a municipal service) today. Right next to it is the “Anastasiou” mansion (house of Rabbi once), the last home of the Jewish quarter. Opposite raise your head and admire the impressive “Becca” Mansion, decorated with baroque and rococo style authentic frescoes, preserved in excellent condition! It once belonged to a wealthy merchant of Jewish origin. Today it’s a municipal property.
Walk along the “Havre” bridge and turn right ways. Walk until “Karachmet” bridge, the only typical example of the city’s stone bridges preserved until today! (has unfortunately lost its original stone railing). Cross it and go up the alley passing by the “12 Grada” café/restaurant (http://www.12grada.gr/ ). You can catch your breath here, have a cup of coffee or a taste of the delicacies it offers!!!
Going up the road, on your left, is the district of Panagia Dexia with the homonymous church. Narrow streets and old houses by the river, faithfully conveying the feeling of that era when it was full of life, devoid of care, though, nowadays. Straight ahead you reach “Kentrikis Street”, once the old market of the town.And the historical plane tree of 700 years of age!
At that point, you will have reached the Old Cathedral – the Chounkiar Mosque (11th c.) as it was called when the ottomans added the minaret. It’s by far the most important among the dozens of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches that gave the city its nickname, “Little Jerusalem” and it opened to the public again last year, after many years of restoration works. An architectural masterpiece and a “must” visit!
The numerous mosques (14) in the city are remnants of the Turkish domination. Many were used as public Turkish baths. The city still maintains some buildings like the “Twin Baths of Sinan of Alatas” 14th century( soon to be restored). From the Old Cathedral, head to the city’s commercial center, a pedestrian complex with a large number of shops and many cafés / bars (many offer snacks as well) and some taverns.
Mitropoleos Street, with its cobbled sections of Roman road, is leading you down to the city center, passing by the impressive building of the City Hall. The 110 year old building, functioned as a male high school until 1996 (just below it is an underground parking station that relieves the city’s parking problem). Behind it, the award-winning Public Library of Veria. Further on, “Elias” Street leads to “Elias’s Square” (all time classic rendezvous point of the city), with magnificent views at Imathia’s plain (the people refer to the spot as “the coast”). Have your coffee here, especially in summertime ! Overlooking the city or the plains. Your choice!
Various shops and many cafés are on the way. Take a beautiful walk on the “coastal” Anixeos street starting from “Elias’s Square” and heading north to the temple and the park of Ag.Anargyroi and the renovated Archaeological Museum (Anoixeos Street 27, tel. 23310 24972). In its courtyard, the dominating marble head of Medusa (2nd AD c.), of supernatural dimensions catches your eye! The head was built in the north wall of the city gate to scare their enemies. In its rooms take a travel back -in -the –big- city’s past, from the Stone Age up to the Ottoman period – (in the museum’s courtyard you’ll see exposed columns, column bases, architraves, inscriptions, etc.). Along the way, admire the well-preserved “Vlachogianni” Mansion (a neoclassical building).
If you go past “Elias Square”, and take the uphill road it will lead you to the Byzantine Museum (Thomaidou Street 26, tel. 25 847) which is housed in a restored watermill “the mill of Mark” as it’s called, a 1911 building. It is built right next to the ancient fortifications, the boundaries of the conservation area of Kyriotissa. Next to it, onto the ancient walls of the city, you can’t fail to notice the characteristic ottoman houses that have been restored as close to the original as possible and adorned with striking colors!
Do not leave without tasting the special flavors of the city: the famous “Revani” which if you don’t happen to buy at “Chochliourou” (Revani of Veria since 1886/ near St. Antonios church) or another patisserie, you will surely taste as a treat at a restaurant or tavern. Buy excellent local products like fruit marmalade and “halva” of Kandylas. Don’t miss “Lido’s” pudding and profiterole or the almond pastry in one of the oldest patisseries in Veria, “Seremetas”. Traditional dishes you have to taste: “fasoulontavas” (baked giant beans), pork with leek, fried mpatsios (salty cheese) and pies. You’ll drink good local wine and “tsipouro” in the area of course!
It’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy your coffee in “Vatrachos” (the Frog). And its divine burgers! And the crepes! (Karakosti 13, 23310 20282, https://www.facebook.com/vatraxos.gr/ ). “Le petit” in Vikela str is a good choice for its excellent coffee, friendly service (a tiny shop but you can sit outside). Alternatively, “Rodi” (Pomegranate) in the pedestrianized market and “Kochlias” also. Nice for a drink in the evening!
WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY:
Taverns / restaurants:
“Ladokola” Vikela 12 2331061961 (center / Fri / Sat night live music)
“Vergiotiko” Thomaidou 2 2331074133 (next to the Byzantine Museum)
More gourmet dishes at: «Beluga» (Elias 14 2331072982)
12 Grada”, (11a Dimosthenous str., http://www.12grada.gr / 2331100112)
«Masna Restaurant», (Elias Square)
- During your getaway in Veria, you can also visit the Archaeological Site of St. Patapios Church , which was the center of the ancient and the early Christian Veria. The church of St. Anthony, as well.
And a little further
- Grab the opportunity to visit the Monastery of Panagia Sumela, hosting the icon of Virgin Sumela (it’s said it‘s been painted by Luke the evangelist) from the Monastery of Panagia Sumela in Trabzon. The monastery is situated above the village of Kastania and was built by refugees of Pondos, in 1951. The festivities in mid-August here gather huge crowds. (18 km)
- Visit Vergina (15 km far), with the royal tombs of ancient Aigai kings. If you haven’t been there before, you will be amazed!
- Winter or summer, mount Vermio and the ski resort of Seli is within some minutes drive.(24 km) There are guestrooms and taverns there with delicious meat dishes.Good meat is another plus of the region.
Read more about the churches here: http://en.discoververia.gr/mikri-ierousalim-2/