The Heroic Naoussa – first part

The Heroic Naoussa – first part

You see “her” as you approach sitting comfortably on a creek at the eastern feet of Vermio. “She” sees you as you ascend the road to the entrance to the city. Around the slopes with lush vegetation and at the end of the road is the Agios Nikolaos grove, designated as a Landscape of Special Natural Beauty.

  The town welcomes you with the watermill on St. George’s rock emphasizing Naoussa’s relationship with water and its contribution to the development of textiles, with waterfalls and sculptures referring to the natural beauty and brilliant tradition of Naoussa in wine and agricultural production.

  Continue to the left to Naoussa’s Park. Enter through the stone arch entrance. On the left is the summer municipal theater gazing the plain. The 30 acre park has been there since the late ’50s. Lush, with artificial lakes, wooden bridges, streets, a fountain and benches to rest enjoying unobstructed views of the plain! Arapitsa, the river of Naoussa, flows to the south. the watermill on St. George’s rockYou can see the precipice with the waterfalls or move on to the opposite bank of the river where the textile buildings that once thrived in the city are located.Today they are a municipal property that house civil services, a nice café-bar (Boston’s). The former factory across the street is now a cultural events venues building (ERIAS). Car parks are located on either sides of the park. On the road above the park (also known as “beach”!) you will find many bars, cafes (“Neon”) and taverns (try “Paradosiako”). You are close to the centre and Karatassou Square with the obelisk which is 11 meters high and ranks among the 10 tallest in the world. Walk up the street to the Town Hall. The trademark of Naoussa, the Clock Tower in front of the Town Hall, Naoussa’s Parkwas built in 1895 with limestone and is 25 meters high. It still maintains its original clock mechanism.

  Move on to the old quarter of the city, the “Alonia”.Clock Tower A few streets in all in this plebeian neighborhood, with a few old houses having survived from the modern recontstruction. They are typical of the town’s characteristic architectural style with the “sahnisia”, keeping up with the Macedonian style, made of limestone, adobe and wood. Stop and drink water at the fountain under the crooked plane tree. Here is also the remarkable building of the “Galakia” school.

  Cross to the other side of the city, along the river, to the ‘Batania’ and ‘Pouliana’ neighborhoods. Some few two-storey, larger inner-city buildings belonging to more affluent families survive here. From the “Batania” walk up the cobbled street towards the church of Metamorphosis, stop at the ‘Vlach Folklore Museum’ (Sofroniou 23) and admire the renovated building of the “Gennitsari and Boules” Group – ex sesame mill of Makis in “Pouliana” and the imposing- although abandoned nowadays -former roller mill, a building belonging to Chr. Matthaios.

Vlach Folklore Museum  A trail on a paved pedestrian street on the lush banks of the Arapitsa River with rushing waters and spectacular waterfalls from the ‘Batania Bridge’ ends at the site of the sacrifice of the Naousaian women, the “Stoubanoi”. It’s the site of the sacrifice of the Naoussaian women who jumped in the chasm and into the waters of Arapitsa holding their children in order not to fall into the hands of the Turks, in April 1822. The city’s uprising against the Ottomans was paid with heavy blood tax. After the Holocaust of Naoussa, as the bloody suppression of the revolution, was named, the Greek State gave the town the name “heroic”. Stroll around the area with the panoramic views and the noise of water falling into the chasm forming waterfalls. Walk across the wooden bridge which remains at the same point as the old bridge that connected the two banks. It is under the modern bridge. Raise your eyes towards the abandoned industrial buildings that once functioned as cotton mills, with their tall smokestacks testifying their location and the reminiscent of its rich industrial past. the site of the sacrifice of the Naoussaian womenThey once produced the famous Naoussa blankets, “flokates” (long haired handmade blankets) and yarns.

  You won’t find old churches in Naoussa since they were all burned down in 1822 at the city’s holocaust. The only temple that survives is the small Temple of Prodromos. One of the old churches (built 11 years after the Holocaust), is the church of the Virgin Mary (Dormition of the Virgin Mary) is worth a visit for its impressive wood-carved ceiling. What you will see everywhere, often under centuries-old plane trees, at squares and crossroads, are fountains old but also new that cool passers-by with their icy cold fresh water. The Municipality of Naoussa, besides being the largest forested municipality in the country is also well known for its many water reserves.

church of the Virgin Mary

  Get to know the cultural heritage of Naoussa at the Historical and Folklore Museum. It is located next to  the church of Agios Dimitrios. It includes the collection of the Naoussa’s Lyceum of the Greeks (10 Agios Dimitriou Street, tel: 2332021713) and see the Wine and Vine Museum, housed in the city’s first winery, at the home of John Boutaris (17 Chatzimaloussi, tel: 2332029800), founder of the company of the same name.

  Naoussa is famous for its wine and tsipouro and that’s something you should definitely taste. Take a break to drink a glass of local wine in a tavern. The special variety of this wine is ‘Xinomavro’, which is a Designation of Origin of High Quality (PDO). 

Wine and Vine Museum

The label “Naoussa” has received many awards in the country and abroad. It was one of the first wines in Greece to be bottled. It goes without saying that the area is full of wineries that you can visit, especially during the grape harvest so you can attend the process of distilling the ‘tsipouro’ in the “kazania”.

Do not miss it! And of course, depending on the season, taste and take home with you local fruits (apples, peaches and cherries).

Naoussa is also famous for its traditional carnival and the custom of “Genichari and Boules”, which attracts a large number of visitors each year. Visit during Carnival Season!


  • Where ever you choose to have a bite you have to taste traditional dishes of Naoussa:  ‘gavopsara’, ‘mantza’, ‘batzio saganakiι’ και ‘sarmades’.

Down town:

 Paradosiako (“Παραδοσιακό”) (tel. 23320.29132)

Oinomagiremata (“Οινομαγειρέματα”)  (τηλ. 2332 023576)

Σπονδή (“Spondi”) (tel. 2332022233 at the main square)

Agios Nikolaos

4 Seasons (“4 Εποχές”) (tel. 2332026221)

Gerania (“Γεράνια”) (tel. 23320 25174, 23320 21922)


 Harama (“Χάραμα”) (tel. 2332021125)

3-5 Pigadia

Sfendamos Wood Village (“Σφένδαμος”) (tel. 23320 – 44844)

Agonari (“Αγκωνάρι”) (tel. 2332 044 588)


Hand to hand with a Janissary (Gianitsaros) in Naoussa

Hand to hand with a Janissary (Gianitsaros) in Naoussa

  Carnival is celebrated everywhere across Greece, but it’s only in Naoussa that the Janissaries dance along the “patinada” rhythm. And it is this sound of the “zourna” approaching slowly and getting louder and louder as it gets closer, until you feel the tabor accompanying him pounding inside you, like a second heart! At that moment, the group of the “Janissaries and Boules” passes by you! Young and old Janissaries outcross their swords dancing “patinada”, a slow, sad song. The musicians are the last to follow the group, along with the leader of the group who checks everything around and instructs which songs will be played. If you don’t hear the zourna playing, you haven’t experienced the carnival in Naoussa!

  The custom roots back in the years of the Ottoman occupation and was interrupted only during the war (1940-1954). It was revived thanks to the love and tenacity of some people that despite the difficulties of those years were able to set it up again. It’s a purely traditional custom that incorporates in its ritual all the history of the place and its inhabitants. The Janissary (Gianitsaros in Greek) is dressed early and when the plaintive sound of the zourna is heard in the distance, he comes to the window or on the balcony and shakes his body two or three times to greet them. He greets his family goodbye by hopping three times on his feet, crosses his fingers on the doorstep and joins the group that came to get him. They gather all, from the youngest to the oldest and finally the leader. They wait for the Boulla (a man dressed as a bride) to respectfully hand kiss the family and join the group that heads to the Town Hall to ask for permission from the Mayor to dance on the town’s streets. Everything has its special meaning here. Every move, every song to be played on a specific moment during the strictly defined route!

 “Town Hall” – “Triodi” – “Kammena” – “Pouliana” – “Batania” – “Stoa” – “Agios Georgios “– “Alonia”: it’s the historic, strictly kept track of the dancing groups, followed by many people until they come to the old “Alonia” district, where they take off their masks, eat, drink and dance along with the people.

  This takes place on both Sundays of the Carnival season. On Shrove Monday as well, only then they do not have their masks on. When it is time of parting, they make a circle, put the organist in the middle, they hit their swords on earth and promise to meet on Sunday of Orthodoxy in “Spilaio” area, for the last celebration that will close period of Carnival in Naoussa.

 The custom of “Janissaries and Boules” coexists nowadays with modern satirical carnivals, preparing all year through to get on their improvised chariots and satirize modern politics and affairs, wandering around the town’s streets.   Today not so many in number and so great in originality than my memory recalls from the past, when we could hear the zournas playing beneath our window before dawn, inviting us to masquerade quickly and follow the group that woke us up! Drinking and dancing all night long, door to door, waking up everyone!

 The custom is kept alive and inalterable up to our days. It is a unique tradition, so it fills the city streets with hundreds of people on these days.


On the cobbled streets of Veria’s neighdourhoods

On the cobbled streets of Veria’s neighdourhoods

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!

The “Sarafoglou” mansion   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.

Raktivan Square Apostle Paul’s Altar

Mendrese Mosque   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.

the Jewish Quarter in “Barbouta” area the stone-built Synagogue

the historical plane tree  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 ( ). 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 Old Cathedral

 Mitropoleos Street 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!

the City Hall

  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).

the Byzantine Museum the Archaeological Museum

the park of Ag.Anargyroi  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, ). “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!


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., / 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: