Pella birthplace Alexander the Great
Archaeological Site of Pella (Credit: Joyofmuseums, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Pella: The birthplace of Philip II and his son Alexander the Great

Unique archaeology findings, snowy mountaintops, traditional villages, relaxing thermal baths

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Named after the ancient city of Pella, the second historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon
and the birthplace of both Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II of Macedon, Pella regional unit is part of the Region of Central Macedonia. Pella is first mentioned by Herodotus of Halicarnassus in relation to Xerxes’ campaign and by Thucydides in relation to Macedonian expansion and the war against Sitalces, the king of the Thracians. Today, the capital of Pella is Edessa known for its waterfalls. Dramatic mountain scenery, important archaeological sites, the hot springs of the Pozar Thermal Baths at the base of Mount Voras (the third highest mountain of Greece ), Old Agios Athanasios -an atmospheric traditional village- the Kaimaktsalan Ski Centre further up (the highest in the country, located at 2000 – 2524 m) and Lake Vegoritida make Pella regional unit a must-see destination in whichever season you choose to visit.

.AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Edessa  Regional unit’s area:  2,506 km2 Regional unit’s population (2021):  126,258 Density: 50/km2  Time Zone: UTC+2 

.ADMINISTRATION

Pella is subdivided into four municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES

EDESSA     ALMOPIA     PELLA     SKYDRA

.MUNICIPALITY OF EDESSA

Area: 611.212 km2 Population (2021): 17,848 Website: https://www.dimosedessas.gov.gr/en

.HISTORY

Situated on a steep plateau, Edessa, the “City of Water” holds a special place in the history of the Greek world. Caranus, the legendary founder of the Argead Dynasty (whose most famous member was Alexander the Great) established the first capital of ancient Macedon. Later Argead rulers moved Macedon’s capital to Aegae and eventually Pella. Edessa, became part of the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine Empire and benefited from its strategic location, controlling the Via Egnatia as it enters the Pindus mountains. According to the inscriptions found, the city had a Bouleuterion, a temple of Zeus Hypsistos, of Dionysos and Ma. Later it was conquered by the Ottomans and after almost 500 years of Ottoman rule, Edessa rejoined Greece in 1913, following the Balkan Wars. Large numbers of Greek refugees from Asia Minor were settled in the area in 1923. Until the middle of the 20th century, Edessa was one of Greece’s industrial centers with many textile factories operating in the city and its immediate vicinity. Today however its economy mainly relies on services and tourism.

.POINTS OF INTEREST

Waterfalls: Just two of Edessa’s twelve waterfalls are accessible – the 70m tall Karanos waterfall, Greece’s largest and most glorious waterfall, and, slightly lower, the Diplos falls. Their water stems from Mount Kaimaktsalan. Some years the flow is stronger than others depending on rainfall.

Old hemp factory: Located in the area of “Psilos Gkrimnos” it an early 20th-century industrial unit focused on the creation of ropes from Indian hemp twine. It was once the largest of the four hemp factories in Greece but closed in the 1960’s. Later it became a center for culture and entertainment. 

Varosi: A hillside traditional district with typical well-preserved Macedonian architecture and narrow cobbled alleys. One of the most beautiful houses is, the Balasa mansion was built in 1841. It is the only residence whose interior decoration has been preserved to this day.

Kioupri Park: A green oasis of relaxation named after the stone arched Byzantine bridge -a historic landmark of Edessa- located at the park. Great for a strolling.

Katarraktakia (Small Waterfalls): The district with the small waterfalls is in the heart of the city, at the crossroads of a network of recently pedestrianised streets. Greenery, mini bridges, cafes and riverside tavernas.

Psilos Vrachos: The spot known as Psilos Vrachos (Tall Rock) offers a stunning view over Pella’s plains.

Other landmarks: Town clock, built around 1900 by the Zisis brothers, Yeni Cami (New Mosque) constructed in 1904, the railway station built in 1892.

Longos archaeological site: Part of ancient Edessa was excavated at Longos. An impressive fortification wall, monumental gates, the main paved street with columns, shops, workshops and houses.

.GASTRONOMY

If you are a meat lover, try tsoumpleki (beef cooked with eggplant and peppers in a clay dish in the oven) and koukouloto (pork with peppers, leeks and cheese). If you have a sweet tooth, you can’t miss cherry jams, delicious bougatsa phyllo pies, fantastic syrup-drenched sweets and sweet phyllo rolls. Don’t leave Edessa without tasting the famous Bodena cherries. 

.RELIGIOUS SITES

Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary: The Byzantine church of the 14th century which was for centuries the city’s Cathedral is an excellent example of the Palaiologian Rennaissance. It has characteristic ancient Corinthian columns which come from an older temple, and the oldest frescoes date from around 1380. 

.KEY MUSEUMS

Open-air Water Museum: Paths running through the Edessa Waterfalls Park lead to its Open-Air Water Museum, which includes, among others, the Salabasis four mill, the Pertsemli sesame mill and the Giannakis watermill.

Aquarium-Herpetarium: It hosts fish fauna & reptile fauna (snakes, turtles, eels, crabs) along with large collection of birds.

Edessa Folklore Museum: Traditional women’s costumes from the19th and early 20th centuries, traditional wedding items, artefacts made for infants, tools and utensils.

.ACTIVITIES

Enjoy outdoor-related activities like hiking in the surrounding Gavaliotisa woods and the Agra wetlands, horse-riding and cycling around town. Ski lovers will love Mount Voras or Kaimaktsalan (just 33 km away from Edessa) where the highest ( 2000 – 2524 m) ski resort in the country is located.

.ACCOMODATION

There are many fine accommodation options. From charming rustic inns, comfortable modern family-run hotels, to agro-tourism estates full of cherry, apple and peach trees in the vicinity.

.TRANSPORT

You can reach Edessa by car or train. It is about 100 km west of Thessaloniki. The train station at arrival in Edessa is near the waterfalls.


TO DO & TO GO