Thessaly - ' Magnificent Mainland Greece'

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The region of Thessaly in the centre of Mainland Greece is a very diverse, truly fascinating area and magnificent at any time of year. In autumn it displays its glorious palette of orange, red, gold and brown, in summer it is a mass of greenery, in winter it becomes a Christmas wonderland.

 

It has so much to offer; architectural splendour, culinary excellence, sanctified Meteora, picturesque towns and amazing scenery. There is a huge amount to see and do regardless of season. 

 

Trikala is built on the banks of the Lithaios River, ‘Lithi’ equating to “forgetfulness” in Greek mythology. This is most appropriate as one can forget about time while watching the clear waters trickle downstream, the ducks and swans paddling and the children fervently feeding them. 

 

A total of ten bridges cross the river, the central metal one having been constructed in 1886 by the French. Go on a romantic stroll along the water’s edge or through the Old Town which during the Festive Season is amass with Christmas cheer.

 

 

Trikala Fort

 

 

Entering through the thick, stone walls of the fort one is totally unaware of what awaits them. The lush foliage drapes the insides of the Justinian fortification and there is a wonderful feeling of restiveness. At the top of the rise the 17th Century Clock Tower's head peeks above the ancient trees. The ascend via the narrow, antiquated, wooden, winding stairwell to the top of the clock tower is not advisable for the faint-hearted, those suffering from Vertigo or the horribly unfit.

 

 

It is however well worth the huffing and puffing and calorie burning effort! The views from above are awesome; the 360 degree vistas over the town of Trikala breathtaking. Spend as much time as you like taking fabulous photos but be aware that the clock tower is locked at 5 p.m. and racing down the stairs is a giddying and leg-jellying experience!

 

 

The Osman Shah Mosque

The Osman Shah Mosque or Koursoum Mosque, built in the 16th Century by architect, Minar Sinan. is the only surviving mosque in Trikala. It is also the only extant still existing in Greece. The architecture is quite a mind-bend as the huge hemispherical dome is not supported by columns. The sheer size of the mosque is mind-boggling. Archaeological artefacts are housed within the mosque.

 

The mausoleum of Osman Shah, the founder of the Mosque, stands directly behind it. It is an interesting octagonal building also with a hemispherical dome. Worth having a look at particularly if you have an interest in architecture.

 

 

Porta Panagia 

This beautiful Basilica has stood the test of time. Situated on the banks of the river Portaikos in the valley at Pili, approximately 20 kilometres from Trikala, this stately old Basilica was built by the Byzantines in 1264.

 

 Interestingly, it was built on top of an ancient temple, the original marble from which is still scattered in and around the church.

 

The mosaics at its entrance are most unusual and very different from any found elsewhere in Greece. Light a candle or simply amble through the walled garden and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.

 

Kalambaka, is a town of approximately 12 000 inhabitants lying in the valley below the amazing rock formations of Meteora. Having been razed to the ground by the Nazis during World War II Kalambaka has been rebuild in more modern style so tends to lack the character of other towns in the Thessaly area.

 

The gigantic, overshadowing stalagmite type rock columns which rise from the ground hold pride of place, adorned with the monasteries which perch on their peaks. Meteora is a sanctified UNESCO Heritage Listed area and should not be missed. The experience is truly humbling. 

 

 

Pili Bridge

Another architectural marvel is the stone Porta Bridge at Pili which dates back to 1514. Built by Saint Vissarion, this huge, impressive,  arched bridge straddles the roaring river below and for many centuries was the only means of crossing. It spans 65 metres and stands proudly amidst the verdant landscape.

 

 

The beauty of the Thessaly Region is that there is a surprise around every bend. The lasting memories are of the amazing engineering feats that have weathered the elements and stood the test of time. 

 

Text and photography by Adelia Cook for MyKerkyra.com

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