Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pella, Loutra (Pozar), and Edessa

We've had two young women from Pres. Pelagia's parish in Yakima, WA staying with us this summer. On July 5, we all went on an outing to points west of Thessaloniki.

The first stop was at the ruins of the ancient Macedonian city of Pella, founded as the Macedonian capital around 400 BC by King Archelaus. It replaced Aigai (modern Vergina), which remained the place of royal burials.

The great Athenian playwright Euripedes spent his final days here, and his famous play The Bacchae debuted here. The city was the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great. This is also where Aristotle tutored the young Alexander.

Conquered by the Romans around 168 BC, Pella was a significant point on the Via Egnatia, between Dyrrachium and Thessaloniki. Cicero stayed here in 58 BC, but by then the provincial seat had already been transferred to Thessaloniki.

In the photo above, you can see Phoebe and Benjamin with part of the city's agora in the background.

One of the city's famous mosaic floors.

Pella was our waypoint on route to Loutra (Pozar), just a couple miles from the border with the FYROM. It is famous throughout Greece and the FYROM for its natural hot water springs which bubble up next to the river from the nearby mountains.

You can barely make out the girls sitting in one of the hot springs on the side of the river in this photo.

Here are Paul and Maggie sitting in a large hot spring pool. The locals find the hot springs each season and use rocks to roughly fence off little pools. One can jump back and forth from the warm to the cool water.

Below, you can see a pool fed simultaneously by both the hot and cold springs. The water is so clear and clean, and has no need of chlorine since it is constantly replaced. Above, you can see the water coming out of the pool and back into the river, while Rebecca sits under the fountain.

After Loutra (Pozar), we headed to Edessa for lunch at the top of its famous waterfalls. After a nice lunch of traditional local foods, including lamb and wild boar, we walked down to get a better view of the waterfalls.

The kids really enjoyed a small cave behind the waterfalls.

On the way out, we stopped at the ruins of the ancient city of Edessa, just below the modern city, which comprised the acropolis in ancient times.
"The walls and the agora have been unearthed so far. A colonnade with inscription in Greek dates from Roman times. The city achieved certain prominence in the first centuries AD, being located on the Via Egnatia. From 27 BC to 268 AD it had its own mint. St. Vassa and her three children were put to death here in the 3rd Century AD.
Very little is known about the fate of the city after 500 AD. Its bishop Issidoros participated in the Ecumenical Council of 692. After the Slavic settling in the 6th-7th century, the name of "Edessa" disappears and what remains of the city (a fortress in the acropolis of the ancient city) is named "Vodena" (from Slavic 'Voda', "water"), recalled by 11th century Byzantine historian John Skylitzes. It is mentioned as both Edessa and Vodena by Emperor and historian John VI Kantakouzenos who came to the city with intention of conquering it in 1350 after it was conquered by the Serb Emperor Dushan the Mighty earlier in 1341, 1342 or 1343. In the memoirs of Kantakouzenos, Edessa had a Serbian army of 500+ garrisoned when he approached the city.[4] It fell to the Ottomans along with the rest of Macedonia around 1390.
During the Ottoman rule, the Turkish component of the town steadily increased. From the 1860s onwards, the town was a flashpoint for clashes between Greeks and Bulgarians.
After more than 500 years of Ottoman rule, Edessa passed to Greek rule during the Balkan Wars on 18 October 1912."

Here's Paul, in his knight costume, climbing the walls.

Pres. Pelagia and Phoebe walking down the old main road.

For more photos from the day, click here.

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