Mountain Olympus, Pieria, Greece
Mount Olympus National Park Panorama, Pieria, Greece (Credit: Photo 30127694 | Greece © Helena Bilkova | Dreamstime.com

Pieria: Home to Mt Olympus and majestic coastline

Verdant landscapes, beaches tailored to every taste, plethora of outdoor activities, remarkable Archaeological Park at Dion- the sacred city of the Macedonians- picturesque traditional villages

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Known as Pieria or Pieris in Antiquity and connected to Homeric πῖαρ “fat”, πίειραν ἄρουραν “fertile land” in a metaphorical sense, Pieria took its name from the Pieres (Πίερες), a Thracian tribe. Expelled from their homeland, Pieria, when the Macedonians conquered it in the 8th century BC and driven to the North beyond the Strymon river and Mount Pangaeus, Pieres formed a new settlement  in Edonis or Edonida and they named the nearby land “Pieris”. Pieria became part of the Roman Republic after the Fourth Macedonian War, and remained part of the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire. Later it became a part of the Ottoman Empire and finally joined the rest of Greece in 1913.

Blessed with natural beauty, historical monuments, sites of archeological interest, traditional villages and a beach-lined 70km coastline, Pieria attracts tourist interest all year round. Mt Olympus, the home of the ancient Greek Gods, Dion, the religious and cultural center of Ancient Macedonia where King Philip II chose to celebrate his victories and his son Alexander the Great made his sacrifices before going off to conquer the East, the Enipeas Gorge, the picturesue town of Litochoro, the ski center in Elatochori, the   13th Century Fortress in Platamonas, the preserved mountainous village of Palaios Panteleimonas, archaeological sites such as Pydna and Leivithra  and of course Katerini, the capital of the regional unit should not be missing from your list. 

.AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Katerini Regional unit’s area:1,516 km2 Regional unit’s population (2011): 119,486 Density: 79/km2  Time Zone: UTC+2 Climate: Mainly of Mediterranean type with hot summers and cool winters. 

.ADMINISTRATION

The regional unit Pieria is divided into 3 municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES

 KATERINI PYDNA-KOLINDROS DION-OLYMPOS

.MUNICIPALITY OF KATERINI

Area: 681,863 km2 Population (2021):  80,700  Density: 23/km2  Website: http://www.katerini.gr

.HISTORY

Katerini lies between Mt. Olympus and the Thermaikos Gulf. The origin of the city’s name is obscure.
Since the 13th century, travellers as well as maps record the existence of a settlement called Hatera (Ἅτηρα), which may have been the origin of the modern name. In another version Katerini owes its name to a small chapel of Saint Catherine. Over the years the name “Katerini” prevailed, instead of the scholarly “Aikaterini”. The people of Katerini have a rich history of participating in national liberation struggles, including the Greek War of Independence in 1821, the movement of 1854, the Macedonian Revolution of 1878, and the Macedonian Struggle. Total liberation finally came in 1912. In 1913-1914 refugees from the former Ottoman Empire settled here. Most of them had Greek Origin and were Orthodox Christians.

. POINTS OF INTEREST

Eleftherias (Liberty) Square: Dominated by the Statue of Liberty by the sculptor Efthymios Kalevras, the historic square is  located at the beginning of the pedestrian street of Megalou Alexandrou.

Arts Center “Nine Muses” (former “Tsalopoulos Mansion”):  A listed building  designed by  architect Max Rubens, who belonged to the school of eclecticism.

Civil School of Katerini: A work of art built in 1905. A remarkable example of neoclassical architecture. It was the 1st Primary School of Katerini until 1979.

Municipal Park: Enjoy the greenery in the heart of the city. Ponds, fountains, stone paths, and with 1,252 trees of 39 species, playgrounds and the Municipal Theater, an open ampitheatre that hosts festivals, exhibitions, and artistic events.

Katerini Railway Station: The station opened in 1916 and is one of the most picturesque in Greece. 

.TOP BEACHES

Olympiaki Akti (Olympic Beach): Organized sandy beach, which stretches for several kilometers.
Paralia:  A long beach with beach bars and entertainment centers.
Korinos: Less crowded, fine sand and shallow waters.
All three beaches attract many tourists, especially from Balkan countries, during the summer.

. GASTRONOMY

Katerini is full of gastronomic delights. You will find an abundance of seafood, mussel and fish dishes, as well as various types of filo pastry pies filled with cheese, spinach, or minced meat. Dozens of types of cheeses: feta, giza and goat’s cheese. Delicious meats: roasted kontosouvli (made from pork), delicious ribs, pontic kavurma, sausages. Fresh fruit such as kiwis, apples, peaches.

. SHOPPING

The pedestrian street of Megalou Alexandrou is where the heart of shopping beats. It is surrounded by cafes and restaurants.

. FEASTS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS

October 16: On October 16, 1912, in the First Balkan War the Greek army liberated Katerini: Historical anniversary of the liberation of Katerini with student parade.

November 25: Celebration of the patron St Catherine with procession of the image and relics. “Aikaterinia”are also held in November. The institution established by the City of Katerini includes a rich program of events.

Festival of Carnival: Revival of traditional customs, traditional koulouma (another name for Clean Monday), parties, concerts.

. RELIGIOUS SITES

Cathedral Church of the Holy Ascension: A majestic orthodox church. Its historic parish was established in 1858 and the church was founded in 1978.

Church of Saint Fotini:  A stunning example of traditional Greek Orthodox architecture, with its white-washed walls and red-tiled roof in Paralia Katerini. Beautiful frescoes and religious icons.

Εvangelical Church: Greek refugees from Pontus who embraced the Evangelical doctrine created a unique district of its kind in 1923. The Evangelical Church, built in 1925, is in the heart of the district.

.ACCOMMODATION

Both cheap and expensive accommodation options can be found, from small family run hotels, self-catering apartments and small and large resorts.

.TRANSPORT

Katerini is accessible from the main Thessaloniki–Athens highway and the Egnatia Odos. It is served by Railway and there is a regional and national bus service (KTEL) with its hub in the city. Katerini is just a 1hr15min drive from Thessaloniki.


TO DO & TO GO