If you are looking for a beautiful city that is full of Greek history, culture and traditions, Veria is your place!
This unique city is built on the foothills of Mount Vermion and crossed by the Tripotamo River. From the 11th to the 14th century, it was the third most important city of the Byzantine Empire, after Constantinople and Thessaloniki. The impressive number of Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches has given the city the nickname “Little Jerusalem”. Today, 48 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches are preserved in the city center.
There is evidence that Veria was occupied by humans as early as 1000 BC.
The city, 60 km west and south of Thessaloniki, is located on a ridge at the foot of the Vermio Mountains. It overlooks, to the east, the Macedonian Plain, which was the heart of the Macedonian Empire, which would also have given the ancient city ample warning if invaders emerged from the 180 degree panorama from the east. Veria’s main square and park, Elia Park, “the balcony of Veria”, is built on the edge of the ridge, with the flatness of the plain stretching a long distance to the east.
In the middle of the 19th century, the city of Veria had 16 small districts. Throughout the period of Ottoman rule, shops were concentrated in the Byzantine market, the bazaar. The most famous quarters that have survived are the Jewish and Christian quarters.
Traditional neighborhood of Kyriotissa
Kyriotissa is a beautiful neighborhood with a maze of narrow streets, tall buildings, mansions and gardens. Kyriotissa follows the Barbouta architectural style. The buildings have floors with heavy overhangs, successive windows and dormers, cob walls and heavy doors. Today, many houses have been restored and transformed into meeting places.
Behind the high fences and the adjacent alleys emerge small Christian and Byzantine stone churches.
Traditional district of Panagia Dexia
This well-preserved neighborhood is developed along the Tripotamos River by the modern part, Veria City. Be sure to visit the Church of Panagia Dexia, built in the 19th century, in place of an old 14th century church. Take a look at the easternmost surviving sector of the old church where you can see the niche and the wall paintings of the sanctuary.
Barbouta Traditional Jewish Quarter
Stop in the Jewish Quarter next to the Tripotamos River with its cobbled streets and imposing mansions. The district is located next to the Barbouta district, whose name comes from an old fountain. The Jewish Synagogue, with its rich interior decoration, was built in 1850; it is the oldest in northern Greece and one of the oldest in Europe. Today, the synagogue is used as a place of worship for Jews traveling to Veria, as well as a monument to their spiritual, artistic and architectural tradition.
Paul the Apostle
The Apostle Paul preached the gospel, faith, salvation, and love to large numbers of Jews and Verians who either believed in the gods of Olympus or had adopted extravagant cults. His preaching had great resonance and since his first visit to the Macedonian city he had proselytized many Verians to the new religion. Paul visited Veria twice; in AD 56 and early AD 57 on his journey from Asia Minor to Greece. According to historical resources, the Apostle Paul had traveled to Veria at least twice between AD 50 and 57 in order to teach the people of the area about the life of Jesus. The Apostle of the Nations was warmly welcomed from his first visit and his preaching had a great impact on the Verians and the Jews. The passage of the Apostle Paul to Veria and the impact of his preaching reveal the importance of the city in the first steps of Christianity and the important role that the city played for the spread and establishment of the Christian faith in Greece .
Aigai was the first capital of Macedonia and the core of the ancient kingdom, the place where the family of Philip II and Alexander the Great ruled for more than three centuries. It is the legendary, spiritual and political cradle that spread Greek civilization throughout the world. In Aigai, at the place of the current Vergina, in the municipality of Veria, the king of the Macedonians, the sovereign of the Balkans and elected suzerain of the Greeks, Philip II, in the year 336 BC. had celebrated the greatest feast of his kingship before his inglorious end by the hand of his murderer, a fact that changed the world and its history, making Alexander the Great the ruler of the Macedonian kingdom. The 1977 excavations, by Professor Manolis Andronikos, revealed the greatest discovery of the 20th century on Greek lands. The treasures discovered were of great archaeological and historical importance and the territory of the ancient Macedonian kings was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1996 by UNESCO.
At the Royal Tombs Museum, you can admire portable finds and wall paintings in an impressive underground construction. The tomb of Philip II and the magnificent golden urn are the elements that stand out.
the Archaeological Museum houses finds from the archaeological sites of Veria dating from the Late Stone Age to the Hellenistic period. Of particular interest are finds from the excavations of Nea Nikomedia, which have been identified as the oldest settlement in Europe (Neolithic age). the Byzantine Museum is housed in a stately industrial building dating back to 1911. Each floor has an exhibition theme distinct from the museum’s permanent collections. Familiarize yourself with the most representative samples of the city’s glorious past. Other must-see museums are the Aigai Polycentric Museumthe Vlachogianneio Museum (also known as the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle), the Wallachian Folklore Museum and the Education Museum “Christos Tsolakis”. Also be sure to go through the public librarywhich has won several international awards.
In Veria, visitors can find grand hotels and guest houses with impeccable aesthetics and respect for the local architecture. In the area of Veria there is also a large number of agritourism and traditional accommodation. The commercial center of Veria, with markets of dairy and local products, agricultural products and traditional workshops of local cuisine, introduces visitors to local tradition and culture.
A coffee break in the city center accompanied by a local sweet will boost your spirits and your energy for night outings. To get the full experience, head into town after the sun goes down and try some of the excellent restaurants offering local specialties and dishes that are located next to important historical monuments.
The main shopping district, with many shops and cafes, is located in the modern city center, offering everything you would expect from any city.
Veria is very pedestrian friendly, giving them priority even without traffic lights and it really is a great place to walk around to take in all it has to offer.
Veria has two characteristic squares which are landmarks of the city, “Elia” square with great views of Imathia plain and “Orologiou” or “Raktivan” square. If there is no party, festival or local event at the Arts Hall during your visit, you can have fun in the local bars listening to Greek and often traditional music. Don’t forget to taste some of the best wines of the region and the tsipouro produced by the local grape varieties.
Veria is a destination that is easily connected to all of Greece’s transport networks. It is 520 km from Athens, 72 km from Thessaloniki and only 13 km from the archaeological site of Aigai.
*Source: Visit Veria