When visiting Thessaloniki, you should consider going to Veria (just 75 km away) for a day or two to explore its atmospheric, historic quarters, and the lush, little river Tripotamos running through it. It is also a proximate base for the Vergina Royal Tombs, the magnificent ancient site of Macedonia. Add to that its great accommodation choices, its good restaurants, the nearby ski slopes of Mt. Vermio, and you have the nature / culture getaway you have been longing for.
Veria has earned its nickname “Little Jerusalem” from its many churches. 48 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches are till this day preserved in the city centre.
The area of Imathia has always been an important hub in Macedonia, with significant history, rich cultural tradition, and important archaeological sites. Human settlements first appeared in the prehistoric era, while one of the oldest Neolithic settlements of Europe has been found in Nea Nikomidia.
Where is Veria Greece?
Veria is a city in Central Macedonia in northern Greece, capital of Imathia prefecture, built at the eastern slopes of the majestic mountain range of Vermio. It is a small ancient city, founded during the 5th century B.C. and maybe settled even 500 years earlier. Next to the thickly vegetated Pieria Mountains, this old, significant city unfolds its beauty. Tripotamos River flows right across it, being a source of life for Veria, and tightly connected to its history. Veria is a rich and modern city, a centre of industrial processing of the abundant agricultural and stock farming products of the area. It is located 500 km northwest of Athens and 75 km west of Thessaloniki.
Map of West Macedonia
2.500 years of history
During the blooming ancient Macedonian years Veria was the second most important town, after Aigai (today’s Vergina). You will find Veria on the foothills of Mt. Vermion with River Tripotamo running through it. After Constantinople (Istanbul) and Thessaloniki, it was the third most significant city of the Byzantine Empire from the 11th to the 14th century.
Veria – How to get there?
Upon arrival in Thessaloniki International Airport “Makedonia” you can reach Veria by bus. The two central bus stations in Veria serve Thessaloniki up to 15 times daily, 1 hour duration, Edessa twice on weekdays, 1hour 30 min. duration, Athens twice daily, 7 hours duration, and Vergina 7 times daily, 20 min. duration.
You can also reach Veria by train. The train station 3 km north of town has trains for Thessaloniki 5 times daily, 1 hour duration, and Florina has 3 times daily, 1 hour 45 min. duration.
What to see in Veria Greece?
Vergina Royal Tombs
The first capital of the ancient Macedonian Kingdom was Aigai (Vergina). With the excavations in 1977 (by professor Manolis Andronikos) the greatest 20th century discovery was revealed in Greece. Treasures of great archaeological and historical significance were found, and this territory of the ancient Macedonian kingdom was proclaimed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996. Today, you can admire findings and wall paintings in the impressive underground construction, where the tomb of Philip II and the golden urn are the most outstanding pieces of the collection. Read more
Veria Traditional Quarters
By the middle of the 19th century, Veria town had 16 small neighborhoods, or quarters, the so-called “machalades”. During the whole period of the Ottoman rule the town shops where concentrated in the Byzantine market (bazaar). The two most famous quarters which have survived till today are the Christian and the Jewish Quarters.
- Jewish Quarter of Barbouta – is to be found next to River Tripotamos with imposing mansions and cobblestone streets. It is worth a visit with its old Jewish Synagogue, the oldest in Northern Greece and one of the oldest in Europe. The synagogue was built in 1850 and has a rich interior decoration. Today it is used a place of worship for Jews travelling to Veria, as well as a monument for Jewish spiritual, artistic, and architectural tradition.
- Quarter of Kyriotissa – is extremely picturesque with its maze of narrow alleys, mansions, gardens, and tall buildings. Today, many of the houses have been restored and converted into venues.
- Quarter of Panagia Dexia – is a well-preserved neighborhood alongside the River of Tripotamos near the market of Veria Town. Visit the church of Panagia Dexia, which was built in the 19th century, in place of a former church from the 14th century. Pay attention to the eastern wing of the former church – here you can gaze upon the niche and the wall paintings of the sanctuary.
Other sights in Veria
- The Tribune of St. Paul (Vima of Apostle Paul) – is located in Veria in a fairly central location, on the street Mavromichali near Raktivan Square, close to the Clock Square. Here Apostle Paul, who visited Veria twice (50-51 A.D. and 57 A.D.) preached the word of God.
- Holy Monastery of Panagia (Virgin Mary) “Soumela” – located at a beautiful site on the slopes of Vermio, close to the village Kastania, approx. 18 km from the city of Veria. It was built in 1951 and it has since been the cultural centre of the Hellenism of the Euxine Sea (Black Sea). Each year, during the three-day celebration of the Dormition of Mary, on the 15th of August, thousands of visitors from all over Greece and abroad gather here to pay honour to Virgin Mary.
- Walking around Veria – you can visit Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, neoclassical buildings, the archaeological museum, the ruins of the ancient walls of the city, Ottoman monuments. And a walk in the old market will impress you. It will make you feel the charm of nature, which, in harmonic connection with the history, makes Veria an enchanting, cultural destination.
- Do pay a visit to the Orologio or Raktivan Square, along the Metropolis Street marking the western border of the walled Veria, as well as the Elia Park, the lush green park in the centre of the city, which has been characterized as the “Balcony of Veria”.
- The Archaeological Museum – has findings from the archaeological sites of Veria, datint to the Late Stone Age up to the Hellenistic Period. Of special interest are the findings from the excavations of Nea Nikomedia, identified as the oldest settlement in Europe from the Neolithic Age.
- The Byzantine Museum – is to be found in a majestic industrial building from 1911. The permanent collections of the museum are on display, each floor with its separate exhibition theme. Here you can marvel wall paintings from churches and mansions, sculptures, and mosaics, and you will come to understand how Veria was considered the Metropolis of the Byzantine Empire in the heart of Macedonia.
- The Ottoman Period monuments – the Twin Baths, the Medresse Mosque, the Karachment Bridge, the Chounkiar Mosque, and the Orta Mosque.
- Near Orologiou Square – the Old Court of Justice and the ruins of the Tower of Princess Vergina
- The Old Cathedral – one of the greatest temples of the middle Byzantine period, built between 1070-1080, housing wall paintings dating to the 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries.
What to do in Veria Greece?
Hiking to the treasures of Veria
The prefecture is reach in points of natural beauty, with large and fertile plains, a large number of old churches, monasteries, ski centres and, of course, the internationally famous archaeological site of Vergina.
At Néa Nikomídia, nine km northeast of Veria, there are traces of a Neolithic settlement of the seventh millennium B.C., which is the oldest agricultural settlement along with Sesklo in Thessaly. The terra-cotta woman-shaped idols, as well as many frog figurines made of steatite are among the most interesting exhibits at the Veria Archaeological Museum.
Lefkádia Tombs – about 30 km south of Édessa, in the vine- and fruit-growing district of Náousa, three Macedonian tombs – well preserved hypogea of the third-second century B.C. – were discovered in 1954.
Skiing at Mt. Vermio
Séli Ski Centre – At Kato Vermio, 26km from Veria, there is the Séli Ski Centre (alt. 1,400 m). There are seven ski lifts and slopes for skiers of every degree of ability.
At Naoussa are some noteworthy waterfalls and in winter is the ski facility of Tria Pende Pigadia Ski Centre.
Food tastings in Veria
Visit the picturesque taverns to enjoy the dishes and taste delicacies of the local cuisine, the traditional cafes, as well as the patisserie shops of the city. Do not miss the traditional sweet “revani” made with the old traditional recipe, as well as the traditional yogurt and the “loukoumades” (doughnut type sweet in honey syrup).
Nightlife and traditions
The vibrant nightlife, the live tradition and the rich local cuisine can cover your every need and make your stay in Imathia an unforgettable experience.
At night the city takes on a stylish new face and invites all to enjoy the coffee bars, the taverns, and the ouzo-shops (ouzo being a traditional Greek drink), which guarantee times of relaxation.
Veria – Weather and climate