If you are looking for a beautiful city that is full of Greek history, culture and traditions, Veria is your place!
This unique town 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 has been occupied by humans as early as 1000 BC.
The city, 60 km west and south of Thessaloniki, is located on a ridge in the foothills 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 sufficient warning if invaders emerged from the panorama 180 degrees from the east. The main square and the park of Veria, Elia Park, “the balcony of Veria”, is built on the edge of the ridge, with the flatness of the plain stretching for a long distance to the east.
In the middle of the 19th century, the city of Veria had 16 small neighborhoods. During the entire period of Ottoman rule, shops were concentrated in the Byzantine market, the bazaar. The most famous neighborhoods that have survived are the Jewish and Christian quarters.
Traditional district of Kyriotissa
Kyriotissa is a beautiful neighborhood with a maze of narrow lanes, tall buildings, mansions and gardens. Kyriotissa follows the Barbouta architectural style. The buildings have floors with heavy overhangs, successive windows and skylights, mud 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 district 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 church from the 14th century. Take a look at the easternmost surviving sector of the old church where you can admire the niche and the murals of the sanctuary.
Traditional Jewish quarter of Barbouta
Stop off 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
Paul the Apostle preached the gospel, faith, salvation and love to large numbers of Jews and Verians who believed in the gods of Olympus or had adopted strange cults. His preaching resonated with 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 56 AD and at the beginning of 57 AD on his journey from Asia Minor to Greece. According to historical resources, the apostle Paul had visited 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 to the Nations was warmly welcomed on his first visit and his preaching had a great impact on the Verians and the Jews. The apostle Paul’s visit to Veria and the impact of his preaching reveal the importance of the city in the early days of Christianity and the important role the city played in the spread and establishment of the Christian faith in Greece. .
Aigai was the first capital of Macedonia and the heart 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 all over the world. In Aigai, at the place of present-day Vergina, in the municipality of Veria, the king of the Macedonians, ruler of the Balkans and elected suzerain of the Greeks, Philip II, in the year 336 BC. 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 found were of great archaeological and historical significance and the territory of the ancient Macedonian kings was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996 by UNESCO.
At the Royal Tombs Museum, you can admire portable finds and murals 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 the finds from the Nea Nikomedia excavations, which have been identified as the oldest settlement in Europe (Neolithic Age). The Byzantine Museum is housed in a majestic industrial building dating from 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 Museum, the Vlachogianneio Museum (also known as the Macedonian Wrestling Museum), the Wallachian folklore museum and the Museum of Education “Christos Tsolakis”. Also be sure to go through the Public library, which has won several international awards.
In Veria, visitors can find superb hotels and guesthouses with impeccable aesthetics and respectful of the local architecture. In the region of Veria there are also a large number of agrotourism and traditional accommodation. The Veria Shopping Center, with its dairy and local produce markets, agricultural produce and traditional local cooking workshops, introduces visitors to local tradition and culture.
A coffee break in the city center accompanied by a local candy will boost your spirits and energy for night outings. To fully enjoy the experience, head to town after sunset and try some of the great restaurants offering local specialties and dishes located next to important historical monuments.
The main shopping area, with plenty of shops and cafes, is located in the modern city center, offering everything you would expect from any city.
Veria is very friendly with pedestrians, giving them priority even without a traffic light and it really is a great place to walk around in order to take advantage of all it has to offer.
Veria has two characteristic squares which are landmarks of the city, the “Elia” square with superb views over the Imathia plain and the “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 region’s best wines and tsipouro produced by local grape varieties.
Veria is a destination easily connected to all transport networks in Greece. It is 520 km from Athens, 72 km from Thessaloniki and only 13 km from the archaeological site of Aigai.
* Source: Visit Veria