Veria - Veroia - Beria - Beroia

Veroia 01Driving on the highway, 20 km away from Salonika, you 'll meet Egnatia. That's the oldest part of Egnatia, designed during the 1970s. After 65 km you 'll reach the city of Veroia (also spelled Beroea, Beria, Veria and Beroia).
If you turn left, you 'll be in Vergina in 15'. Vergina was the political, religious and cultural center of the ancient Macedonian Kingdom. In the begining of the Greek history, the northern branch of the Dorians, the Macedonians, had exhausted the feeding grounds of the Western Macedonian plateau. The oracle of Delphi, where they asked, prompted them to "follow the goat". The numerous sheeps and goats of that pastoral greek tribe, lead with their instict the Macedonians, beyond Pieria, to the valley of Central Macedonia. Thus begun the last and most interesting period of the Macedonian history. There, at the roots of the Pieria mountaints, they founded Aiges (a reference to the oracle) their capital city.
Today, the archaeological museum is located at the resplendent tumulus of Vergina. The visitor of the museum will be enchanted by the articles of exceptional art and the dom-shaped royal tombs. One of these belongs to Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Veroia 02When you return back to Veroia, and after passing the Haliacmon Dam and the recreation park, the road leads you to the heart of the city, the Elia. From the tourist kiosk, you can admire the panoramical view of the greatest greek champaign, where the peach trees are the dominant element, the main resource of Veroia.
In the age of mythology, Dionyssus stoped at this valley during his adventurous journey. These are the famed gardens of Midas, the legendary king who is remembered for his niggardliness.
The Byzantine Museum is near Elia, with many hagiographies and mosaics, while the wider area still has many neoclassical buildings of the 19th and the 20th century, that are used today as cafe and clubs.
Veroia 03If you continue your walk, you 'll reach the Archaeological Museum of Veroia and "Choros Technon", a conventional center.
If, instead, you choose to go left, you 'll find the central point of Veroia, the crossing of the two main streets (Benizelou and Metropoleos). During the Roman times, the city was built along those two roads and Veroia reached the acme of its glory. Few years ago, parts of the ancient road had been revealed and are diplayed at the Metropoleos street.
Benizelou street leads to the Cathedral church of Saint Antonios, an early 20th century basilica, and on the other end of the street, one can find the old citadel of Veroia, at Phoros location. From that point one can continue either towards Naoussa and Edessa or to Alexandreia and Salonika, via the old highway.
Metropoleos street runs along the Metropolitan Church that is dedicated to saints Peter and Paul. On the left side of the street lies the old greek Kyriotissa district. The classic old Macedonian houses and the small and narrow streets (greek: kalderimia), Veroia 04now offer recreational and entertainment services. Here you can find more than 72 byzantine churches. Among them, the 10th century Church of Christ, a building of rare architectural style. The City Hall of Veroia is housed in the neoclassical building of an old Greek school, while the Public Library of Veroia is famed for the high quality services, including an online database.
The Orologiou square (square of the tower clock) and the neoclassical Court House. Few steps further you 'll find the podium of Apostle Paul, where the Apostle of the Gentiles (Απόστολος των Εθνών) addressed the people of Veroia.
Along the Court House you can see the 700 years old platan - on these branches the Ottoman Turks hanged the Greek fighters who had stopped a janissary levy. On your right, lies Barbouta, the old Jewish district. This area has amazing natural beauty and is crossed by the Verris river. The classical building surrounding the old synagoge, today are used either as houses or as municipality services.
Veroia 05The road beyond Orologiou Square leads to Seli, the oldest snow-sports centre of Greece and Panayia Soumela, spiritual and religious center of the Pontioe of the whole world.
Veroia, famed for the champaign and the byzantine churches, is also the homeland of Emmanouel Vikelas, father of Demetrius Vikelas, a prominent scholar and merchant whose determined actions lead to the establishment of the first modern Olympic Games.
Constantine Ractivan, another remarkable scholar, was also born in Veroia. An acedemic and chairman of the Academy, Ractivan served as Minister of Justice and Internals at the time of Benizelos. He was responsible for the administrative reconstruction of Northern Greece, since the liberation.
If you intend to stay in Veroia, you can spend the night in one of the hotels at Veroia, or at the picturesque Seli. Or if you wish, you may continue your journey to Naoussa, Edessa, Pella or Kozani.
Before you leave Veroia, you should taste the unique sweet of Veroia, Revani [at Saint Antonios' square] and you should admire the view from the Villa of Vikelas, above the Orologio Square.

Theofilos Sarasides

We kindly thank Stelios Fragkopoulos for the above pictures.

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