Starting from Pozar Thermal Baths, part c

In the second part of our article, which is based  in Pozar Baths, we left you on the road to Edessa. The distance from Loutra Pozar is 32 km, 40 minutes by car. Edessa is the seat of the Municipality of Edessa, of the Regional Unit of Pella in the Region of Central Macedonia. It is known for one special feature: its many waterfalls.

Read the second part of our article:

In the third part of our article based in Pozar Baths we take walks in the rain at the Open Air Water Museum, the Waterfall Park and the traditional Varosi district in Edessa, and we visit the Holy Temple of Agia Skepi with the relics of Saint Kallinikos. Still, we see up close the handmade products’ workshop Opos Palia, we try the cuisine of the restaurant Kokkino Piperi and enjoy wonderful pastries at the Karras pastry shop.

The day was rainy, but we could not cancel our walk in the city of Edessa, so we took our umbrellas and went for a stroll… Our frst destination was the famous Waterfall Park on the west side of the city, with its dense, green vegetation. Apart from the waterfalls and the beautiful nature, in and next to the park there are various points of religious and cultural interest. Come with us to see them all up close!

The sound of the water and the endless view accompanied us on our way…
The Holy Temple of the Ascension

Next to the park of Edessa is the Open Air Water Museum, a model protected area with restored workshops and industries, next to artificial canals and dense vegetation. The open air museum was created in 1993 as part of a decision to use the area of the waterfalls. As we have learned, historically, from antiquity, the inhabitants of the area took advantage of the energy of the movement of the waters of the river Edessaios, securing the basic products of their nutrition and at the same time developing the textile, silk, etc. The first water-powered industrial buildings, flour mills, sesame mills, water mills and tanneries were organized in the area of the waterfalls.

We read on the website of the Municipality that from the end of the 19th century the exploitation of water became more systematic in Edessa, when Greek businessmen from Naoussa opened hydro-powered textile factories. The industrial units flourished during the interwar period, but due to problems they were permanently closed in 1962.

To make the visit easier for the visitors, the area has three marked routes: the blue one which moves inside the open air museum, and the red and yellow ones, which start from the open air museum and end in the traditional Varosi district. We, again, chose to wander alone and photograph as many places as we like!

One of the first old buildings we encountered was the Aquarium-Reptile House at the restored Giannakis Watermill, which has been operating since 2001 and features a range of endemic lake fish and land reptiles. We read that the collection has been created from gifts by individuals, Associations for the Protection and Care of Wild Animals and Birds, as well as from financial donations by professionals from Edessa and Thessaloniki. Unfortunately, on the day we were in Edessa, the buildings of the open air museum were closed, so we will try to give a taste through our external photos and the ones we chose from the web!

The Aquarium-Reptile Houses

Walking inside the Open Air Museum we reached the Open Air Cinema in the northern part of the museum. It is one of the latest additions to the space and only works in summer. It would be really fantastic to watch a movie against the backdrop of waterfalls!

The Open Air Cinema
The stunning view of the plain

The Open Air Museum also has a strong artistic character, as we found out when we arrived at the Artists’ Gallery. As we read later, in May 2021 the Association of Artists of Edessa “O Apellis” organized a very interesting visual intervention: with vivid colors, love and imagination, the members of the association painted tins that were kept in the club, and planted beautiful flowers and plants. We are sure that since then they have done many other beautiful actions!

At the Artists’ Gallery

The next industrial building we encountered was the Taste Mill. We learned that it was inaugurated in 2013 at the old Pertsemlis Mill, which had been preserved by the Open Air Water Museum. Inside the mill visitors have the opportunity to get to know the local products and the gastronomic culture of the area. An educational suitcase was created as part of the “The Gastronomic Roads of Kaimaktsalan” program, with the aim of introducing students to ecology, gastronomy and healthy eating through local products.

At the opening of the Taste Mill (source)

Then we saw the Mill of the 5 Senses. At the mill we read that there is an exhibition on the water cycle, an experiential tourist program guided by the human senses. Thus, the visitor learns about the importance of water for Edessa and the wider area through sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

The art is scattered in the Open Air Water Museum

We took a taste of the original Oper Air Water Museum of Edessa and decided to take a walk in the city. The museum and the Waterfall Park are located on the western edge of the city, so we headed east, to the traditional district of Varosi.

Giorgos punched in the trunk of a huge tree to protect himself from the rain!

The city of Edessa is inextricably linked to the water element. Everywhere you can find canals with bridges and in most places you can hear the sound of running water. The river Edessaios is the natural creator of this situation, as it crosses the city before rushing to the waterfalls.

At a very short distance from the Open Air Museum we found the Cultural Center of Edessa, a building that impressed us… So, we learned that it was designed to show the passage from the old city to the modern one. Inside the building, permanent and periodic exhibitions are hosted, while there is also a Vocational Training Center, as well as the Municipal Enterprise “Edessa Waterfalls”.

And that’s how we got to the traditional Varosi district. As we have learned, Varosi is the first Christian district created after the fall of the city in 1389, as an evolution of the Byzantine settlement that developed in the area of the citadel and the ancient city. It is the only part that has been saved from the historic center of Edessa.

In 1944 the Nazis burned most of the district because of its location, as it served as a center of resistance, who could easily escape into the plain. Today the biggest enemy of the traditional district is the wear and tear that time brings. Come with us to walk in its alleys…

One of the buildings that stand out in Varosi is the Museum of Classic Sports of Edessa, which is co-located with the Folklore Society of the Prefecture of Pella. Its website describes that it houses archival material from the Edessa track and field athletes who excelled from 1823 to the 1970s. Medals, diplomas, sports items, period publications and much more are the exhibits that can be seen in the museum. The hall dedicated to the gold medalists stands out; there is the Voula Patoulidou jersey and a signed book of hers.

Inside the Museum of Classic Sports of Edessa (source)

One of the jewels of the traditional district is the Holy Cathedral of Agia Skepi. The Agia Skepi.of Virgin Mary is an ecclesiastical celebration during which the vestments of the Virgin Mary are honored and is related to the appearance of Virgin Mary in a vision in the temple of the Vlachernas of Constantinople during the reign of Emperor Leo VI the Wise. As we learned, Saint Andreas, together with his student Epiphanios, saw Virgin Mary with a multitude of Angels, John the Forerunner and John the Theologian entering the temple, praying for a long time with warm tears for the salvation of the faithful and spreading her garnment over the faithful. This event is honoured by the Orthodox Church on October 28, a national Greek holiday.

The Holy Cathedral of Agia Skepi

We entered the beautiful temple, got protected for a while from the rain that had intensified again, lit our candle and prayed to the Virgin Mary who protects of us all with Her grace.

Inside the Holy Temple of Agia Skepi
The Agia Skepi of Virgin Mary

The holy relics of Saint Kallinikos, Metropolitan of Edessa, Pella and Almopia are kept in the church. As His Eminence the Metropolitan of Edessa Mr. Ioil proclaimed in a divine liturgy dedicated to the resurrection of the relics in 2020, Saint Kallinikos had many virtues; he was a prophet, since from a young age he still proclaimed the councils of God and a follower, as he loved the divine liturgy very much.

Saint Kallinikos and his holy relics
His Eminence the Metropolitan of Edessa, Pella and Almopia Mr. Ioil (source)

Next to the temple we found a very nice statue, a villager on a donkey, along with a goat. It is “the farmer of Loggos”, a work based on an idea of Lampis Jeremtze, an important active citizen of Edessa with a valuable literary work on the folklore of the city, an idea embraced by the Municipality of Edessa and built in 2011. An image from a life of the past which we recall today…

The Holy Chapel of Agia Paraskevi

Behind the Holy Temple of Agia Skepi is Varosi Square. The square is the connecting link between the modern city and the preserved part of the district and between the present and the past of the city. As we read on the information board, in 2008 archaeological excavations were carried out that revealed the successive phases of the wall that surrounded the ancient citadel and the Byzantine castle of Edessa.

Varosi Square

Another of the sights of the city is the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, a preserved Byzantine church of the 14th century. In fact, it is one of the only two monuments that survive from Byzantine times, along with the Diocese.

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul

We continued our walk, returning to the Waterfall Park, since we had not had enough of the incredible view and the green landscape that surrounded us. Despite the heavy rain, we went down to the big waterfall, which for some reason had no water at all. The beauty of the landscape, however, remained unique!

As we learned from Wikipedia, the waterfalls of Edessa are a natural phenomenon created in the 14th century, after a strong earthquake that struck the area. On the website of the Municipality we read that the big waterfall, Karanos, is named after the first Macedonian king. According to the legend, Edessa was founded by Karanos following the noise of the waters that led his goats. Karanos waterfall is over 70 m high and attracts many visitors, who thanks to the new paths can safely get wet from its waters.

The Karanos waterfall
The big waterfall with its rushing waters (source)
On the path below the waterfall

Next to the big waterfall is the Cave of the Waterfalls, the only “primary” utilized cave in Greece. The cave created by the deposition of dissolved limestone on the mosses that grow under the waterfalls is characterized as primary, as we read on the website of the Municipality.

The entrance to the Cave of the Waterfalls

With all these walks in the rain it was already getting dark and we wanted to catch another destination before nightfall. We wanted to visit the family workshop of handmade Greek products Opos Palia in Sosandra, a village near Aridaia. It is half-an-hour drive from Edessa, so we had to hurry!

At the workshop of handmade products Opos Palia

The workshop Opos Palia produces a wide variety of handmade pasta, with old procedures and the best local ingredients, as well as pastries, jams, compotes with carefully selected seasonal fruits, hand-cleaned, as well as sauces. The products are produced in limited quantities, to ensure quality, and do not contain any preservatives. Some of them have been honored abroad, and have been awarded the Great Taste Prize. These and many other interesting information were told to us by the owner of the family business, Mr. Vasilis Zerzis, who was waiting for us in his workshop.

Mr. Zerzis told us that the workshop started in 2011, during the crisis. He used to work as a lumber merchant, one of the local products of Almopia. In Almopia there are many fruits and vegetables, cherries, sour cherries, peaches, quinces, apples, zucchini -all of that he decided with his wife Mrs. Aleka Deliou to use in their new business.

Mr. Vasilis Zerzis

One of the local products of the area, with which they and the previous generations grew up as children, is the trachana of Almopia. Today, in fact, trachana is becoming more and more famous, it enters the kitchens of restaurants and also becomes a gourmet dish. So, they wanted to put it on the market, but made in the traditional way, by hand. From one trahana they have reached today to produce 14 species! Trachana is a highly nutritious and healthy product; they have barley trachana with a medical label that certifies that it contains B-glucans that lower cholesterol and sugar.

Along with trachana, they started making another traditional pasta, Kores. They wanted to give people a taste of flavors they hardly know. Handmade product is a difficult process, but fortunately the business is going well, and we wish them the best!

Handmade Kores of Almopia

Today they had a full day in the workshop: in the morning they made compote, then wholemeal trachana, and just before we came Perek sheets. Mr. Zerzis’ cousin told us that the nice thing about their job is that they do not get bored, since they constantly change the product they make.

Handmade Perek sheets baked in the fireplace

At the same time, they wanted to use the local fruits to make handmade jams, pastries and compotes. Fruits, vegetables and raw materials, if they do not have them in their garden, are supplied by local producers; local producers are their strength, Mr. Zerzis told us.

The products of Opos Palia travel abroad… They have reached from Germany to Zimbabwe and Singapore! In our country we will find them in delicatessen shops; we would find them even immediately after in the restaurant Kokkino Piperi where we would go for dinner!

Peach compote from Almopia fruits

We really enjoyed seeing a handmade workshop up close, it is always a special experience. We left Opos Palia with a box full of their exquisite products… we enjoyed them all in Athens and we thank them from the bottom of our hearts!

Many thanks for the delicious gifts!

It was already dark and with all this we had an appetite for local delicacies. Fortunately we had arranged to dine at the restaurant Kokkino Piperi, back at our base, in Pozar Baths.

Kokkino Piperi has a beautifully organized outdoor area, with tables near heaters that create warmth. A watermill completes the romantic atmosphere, as it is illuminated along with the sound of running water. The rain, however, did not allow us to enjoy the wonderful outdoor space. So, we got inside the restaurant, which was just as beautiful, warm and welcoming.

A characteristic element of the outdoor space, the illuminated watermill
And another surprise: a large fireplace outside!

The owners of the Kokkino Piperi restaurant are the brothers Dimitris and Methodios Emmanuil. Their passion and love can be seen in everything from the decoration of the space to its delicious, homemade food. The restaurant serves genuine Greek flavors made with pure, traditional ingredients from local producers in Almopia. Appetizers of cheese, vegetables and meat, traditional and composite salads, daily cooked and fried meats, grilled meats and premium meats of high quality and nutritional value from calves raised in special conditions that are distinguished for their tender texture and unique taste, pasta, fish and seafood… Tsipouro, ouzo, beers, bulk wine and retsines, but also a large list of locally bottled wines… What more could one ask for!

The chef Mr. George Galanakis and Mrs. Fotini Bardi, in charge of the cold kitchen

We sat down, ordered, photographed and devoured everything; we will show it to you all!

Green salad with seasonal fruits with rocket, lettuce, peach, pistachio, dried plums and citrus vinaigrette
Handmade zucchini balls with nettle, spinach and zucchini, with yogurt sauce and mint
Batzos PDO saganaki, a local white hard cheese from goat’s and sheep’s milk with a red pepper and basil jam
Pasta with pistachio of Aegina pesto, rocket, olive oil, garlic and Reggiano Parmesan, a recipe by chef Mr. Galanakis
Chicken Kontosouvli, sliced, marinated grilled chicken
Grilled pork chops with olive oil, oregano and lemon
For dessert, classic cheesecake, chocolate cheesecake and ice cream with pistachio!

The Almopia food was fantastic, wonderful was the day we spent too, but now it was time to return to our hotel, the Nymfes Hotel-Spa. After a pleasant sleep, the familiar, rich, warm and fragrant breakfast of the hotel was waiting for us. Perfect!

It was our last breakfast at the hotel, so we gave it the attention it deserved and honored it all again! Before leaving, however, we wanted to take another look at one of the suites we had not been able to see the day before, the Stone Suite. Like the other three hotel suites, it was simply gorgeous!

In the Stone Suite of the Nymfes Hotel

The next day will find us in Naoussa, but you will find out all about it in our next article. We will close very sweetly this time, with one of our favorite patisseries, Karras pastry shop in Skydra. Operating since 1980, it offers impressive cakes, traditional syrupy sweets, sweet creations for weddings, christenings and events, individual desserts, cakes, cookies, macarons and treats, and much more! All made with pure ingredients, fresh and delicious… And a secret… They are our dear friends! 😊 We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for the warm welcome and the fantastic sweets, which we loved so much that they could not last many hours in their box!

Traditional syrupy sweets
Individual desserts
Colourful macarons
A treat to begin with!
A box full of baba au rum, tartlets, eclairs, cheesecakes and much more, a dream come true!
And not just one, but two boxes full of delicacies, just enough for our trip to the next destination… Many, sweet thanks!
A mini baba au rum to say goodbye!

See you soon in Naoussa, stay tuned!

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