24 hours in Naoussa, part a

So, we left Pozar Baths – in which we had a wonderful time – and headed south, towards Naoussa. Naoussa is 55 km away from Pozar Baths, a one-hour drive. It belongs to the Region of Central Macedonia, in the Peripheral Unit of Imathia, and is built at the foot of Mount Vermio, while it is crossed by the river Arapitsa. It is officially called the Heroic City of Naoussa for the contribution of its inhabitants to the national liberation struggles of 1821, and is known for its wine, its textiles and its plain, which produces peaches, cherries, apples, grapes and vegetables.

In the first part of our new travel article, in which we spend 24 hours in the Heroic City of Naoussa, we walk in its streets and squares, we enjoy the beautiful nature in the Municipal Park and in the Park of Agios Nikolaos, while we are hosted in an apartment of Iliana’s House. For dinner we try the creative, local cuisine of Harama restaurant in Arkochori, Naoussa.

It was a rainy afternoon when we arrived in Naoussa. We originally planned to take a long walk in its Central Square and in its Municipal Park, and we did – fortunately it did not rain, despite the thick, gray clouds.

The Central Square of Naoussa is a large, round square in the city center. It is officially called Karatasou Square. The most characteristic element of the square is undoubtedly the large obelisk. It has a height of 11 meters and as we read it is ranked among the 10 tallest in the world, which makes it a trademark of the city!

The tall obelisk of the Central Square of Naoussa
Since Christmas is approaching, we found a photo with the square snowy! (source)

Near the Central Square is the Municipal Park of Naoussa, one of the most beautiful places in the city. The park was created in the late 1950s and spreads over an area of 30 acres. With lots of lush trees and colorful flowers, a large artificial lake, bridges and cobbled streets, the park is truly a place where you can relax, breathe fresh air and maybe even meet some small animals!

One of the 4 entrances to the park
Green trees
Ducks and geese

As we learned from the website of the municipality, the Municipal Park of Naoussa belongs since April 2021 to the European Route of Historic Gardens of the Council of Europe, which is a very important distinction and recognition of its value for the city and its inhabitants. In fact, it is the first full member of Greece. The European Route of Historic Gardens was certified by the Council of Europe in October 2020 and is managed by the ERHG – European Route of Historic Gardens network, a non-profit association based in Spain and having as members six countries, Germany, Georgia, Spain, Italy, Poland and Portugal. The aim of the Union is to raise awareness, knowledge and respect for Europe’s historic gardens.

The acceptance of our application by the Scientific Committee of the European Network of Historic Gardens came after many hours of work and effort of the green sector of our Municipality. This distinction is a particularly important development as it gives the opportunity to network the Municipality of Naoussa with the most important parks in Europe, and exchange good practices and know-how, aiming at sustainable development, with respect for the environment and our history. At the same time, opportunities for high level tourism are created, as well as the utilization of financial “tools” for our park, with respect for our heritage and identity.

Mayor of Naoussa Mr. Nikolas Karanikolas (source)
The large artificial lake of the park

The walk in the park was really relaxing! Leaving, just outside the park, we passed the Christos Lanaras Cultural Center and wondered about the actions that take place there. Among other things, we saw that book presentations, speeches, art exhibitions, children’s parties and many other events are organized in the complex.

At a distance of 5 minutes walk from the Municipal Park of Naoussa is Iliana’s House, which would host us. These are self-contained apartments in an elegant, two-storey apartment building in a central part of the city, from which one can walk to its sights. We were welcomed to the apartment by Mrs. Marianna Haratsiari, owner together with her sister of Iliana’s House.

Our apartment was beautiful, clean and welcoming! It had everything a visitor in the city needs to spend their vacation beautifully. Comfortable beds, well-kept bathroom, equipped kitchenette, TV, internet – everything we were looking for. And a surprise! A local retsina (white wine) to drink in the evening in the health of the beautiful city!

An elegant, clean and comfortable room
A local retsina for the evening!

We took a warm, enjoyable bath and got ready to start for another tour in the beautiful city of Naoussa!

Ready for an afternoon stroll!
On the city streets

Another attraction characterizes Naoussa: its old clock. The clock tower is located in a square, near the Central Square, in front of the City Hall. From what we have learned, it is a donation of the industrialist Georgios Anastasiou and was built at the end of the 19th century, in 1895. Elsewhere we read that its mechanism belongs to the English house J.Smiths & Sons, and means the hours with the big bell that is placed in peak. It is built of porphyry and has a height of 25 m. Apart from being a reference point of the city, it is also the meeting place of janissaries and the boula during the Carnival period.

At the clock of Naoussa
Carnival (source)

It was impossible not to see up close another of the landmarks of the city, the place of sacrifice of the women of Naoussa. Historically, as we learned, in 1822 the women of the city preferred to fall into the river Arapitsa with their children, rather than fall into the hands of the Turks. At the site of the women’s sacrifice stands today a statue depicting a woman with two children in her arms and recalls the heroic events of the past… We read that the bronze monument of the sculptor Katerina Halepa-Katsatou was erected in 1973. Personally, we are very moved…

Passer-by, stand reverently in the memory of the dead. In the abyss that opens before you, the women and children of Naoussa died glorious and heroic, for the freedom and independence of the Greek nation, on April 22, 1822.

Inscription opposite the monument
The statue of the mother with her two children at the place of sacrifice of the women of Naoussa

After a dip in the heroic history of the city, what we needed was a strong dose of nature and we would find it in the famous Park of Agios Nikolaos, a 5-minutes drive from the place of sacrifice and a 7-minutes drive from the Central Square of Naoussa. The park is a large, green area, full of centuries-old plane trees, which is crossed by plenty of water thanks to the river of the city, Arapitsa. It is a place of walking, leisure, sports and relaxation, with the church of Saint Nikolaos, a lake with trout, geese and ducks, sports facilities, restaurants and cafes, shops with local products and souvenirs, and much more.

We even read that the magnificent park was funded by the European Union under the LIFE program and that it was awarded the Special European Prize for urban and regional design in 1997. Many years may have passed, but its value only grew! The beauty of this park is so pure and great that we will let the photos speak for themselves!

We also made new friends, although a goose was very aggressive…
A fantastic backdrop for wedding photography!

We honestly did not want to leave. The only thing that comforted us was that a wonderful table was waiting for us in a restaurant in a unique location, which harmoniously complements its quality cuisine. We would go to the restaurant Harama in Arkochori, Naoussa and we were excited!

Not even the dog wanted us to leave…

Approaching Arkochori what stood out from the first moment was the view… It really took our breath away! Arkochori is a mountain village of Imathia, built at the foot of Vermio, at a distance of 8 km from Naoussa. One of the main reasons to visit it is undoubtedly Harama, the restaurant of Mr. Stefanos Lafaras. You will see why later!

Arriving at Harama, the view was simply magnificent!
Harama, a unique restaurant in a wonderful place…

The location of the restaurant is what we call privileged – and few said… Its outdoor tables have a view that can not be described in words. Vastness in green and blue… Unfortunately, Mr. Lafaras could not meet us in the restaurant, but he gave us the pleasure to talk to us by phone about all the good things he does in his business.

Mr. Lafaras told us, therefore, that for 30 years they have been trying to create a modern cuisine with traditional ingredients of their place, to “modernize” the traditional flavors. The place where they are located is not very touristic, as it is somewhat remote. They are, nevertheless, a pole of attraction, as they focus on quality and a lot of work, in order to make the restaurant famous. We tried its cuisine and we guarantee it – it is worth making this trip if you are in Naoussa, you will eat fantastic food and be filled with beautiful images and oxygen!

The interior of the restaurant is as beautiful as the exterior, built of stone and wood…
Of course, Harama has been awarded the Greek Cuisine Award!

The restaurant’s cuisine is therefore traditional, with a modern approach. Traditional dishes and recipes of the area, game, herbs of Vermio and local vegetables… Appetizers, salads, stews, grilled meats, beers and wines… Everything looked great… And Mr. Lafaras really prepared us a menu that had it all, and even more! We were speechless by the variety of flavors, the quality of the ingredients and the uniqueness of the recipes. Writing the article we see them again and honestly we would like to be transferred there in a minute!

These were just the appetizers, and many more followed…
Harama Baby Salad with green leafy vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes, kefalotyri cheese, croutons and olives
Toasted mushrooms with cheese sauce – a very original recipe with mushrooms, which became one of our favorites!
Peppers in the pan stuffed with feta cheese
Tomato balls
When the rest came, we honestly did not know where to start – between us, we honored them all!
Meatballs in batter
Pork dolmas: pieces of pork with rice and feta cheese, with egg-lemon sauce
Pork baklava: pork fillets cooked with honey, wrapped in filo dough
Wild boar with plum sauce
Lazy beef with mushrooms, carrot and sun-dried tomato
For a sweet closing -yes, of course we had room for dessert- orange pie and a syrupy nest with chocolate

Everything was really delicious… And the landscape truly beautiful… Leaving, we took a short drive to the village, and got a taste of its atmospherically lit spots. This is a small village that has its beauties!

And so we went back to Iliana’s House for a good night’s sleep, since our 24 hours in Naoussa were still in half… The rest will be in the second part of our article, with coffee with a friend from Naoussa, wine tasting at the Kyr-Yianni Winery and a visit to the School of Aristotle!

In closing, we will leave you with a beautiful initiative of the Municipality of Naoussa, a playground specially designed to serve the disabled, recently built to European standards, right next to the apartments of Iliana’s House… So that all children can play and become friends! See you soon our dear friends!

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