PIERIA - THE PLACE OF THE 12 GODS
Pieria with its natural and cultural beauty is the homeland of Orpheus and the Muses. In its southern part is Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece and the seat of the Greek gods. Katerini is built in the plain of Pieria and Olympus, the capital of the prefecture which offers destinations for both sea and mountain holidays. It is located in the center of Pieria and is a hub on the main local routes. It is a city with good roads, modern buildings, beautiful parks and squares such as the magnificent central Eleftherias Square and the pedestrian street of Alexander the Great. It is worth visiting the Pontian Folklore Museum, where relics from the Black Sea region are exhibited.
Litochoro is built on the slope of the highest peak of Olympus, a few kilometers from the sea, and is an ideal destination in all seasons. Houses of Macedonian architecture but also some neoclassical, cobbled alleys, stone fountains and of course the imposing Mount Olympus compose a unique landscape. In Litochoro the traveler should visit the Gorge of Enipeas, the most beautiful of the river gods in mythology. Impressive slopes, ravines, dense vegetation, picturesque wooden bridges, running water, lakes and small waterfalls compose a wonderful natural environment, for lovers of mountain routes. Plaka beach and Gritsa beach in summer are an ideal destination for visitors.
Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece known worldwide mainly for its mythology, as its top was inhabited by the Twelve "Olympian" Gods according to the religion of the ancient Greeks. It is also the second highest mountain in the Balkans and in the whole of Europe from the Alps to the Caucasus. Every year thousands of nature lovers visit it to admire the magic of nature up close and to enjoy the tour of its slopes and the conquest of its peaks. The mountain of the gods is not only high snow-capped mountains and steep ravines are undoubtedly the most popular mountain in Greece. Its impressive height, mythical charm and easy accessibility make it an attraction for thousands of visitors from all over the world.
Ancient sanctuaries, Hellenistic and Roman theaters, cobbled streets, hot springs with pools and mosaics, conservatory, Roman houses, villas and early Christian basilicas are some of its unique features. The highest peak of Olympus, Mytikas is 2,917 m high and in 1938 was declared a National Park. At the foot of Mount Olympus is the ancient Dion, the most beautiful archeological park in Greece, the holy city of the Macedonians in an area flooded with water. The Macedonians gathered in Dion to regularly honor the Olympian gods with sacrifices. In the summer, the Ancient Theater of Dion is revived with the performances and concerts given in the context of the Olympus Festival.
The archeological site of Dion, is located on the northeastern slopes of Mount Olympus at a distance of only 5 kilometers from the coast. In the archeological park one can walk among the findings and visit the adjacent archeological museum. Among the gods worshiped in Dion, Olympus Zeus held a dominant position, from whom the city took its name. In the mosque of the god were found stone columns with texts, honorary resolutions etc. The sanctuary of Demeter in the south, is the oldest Macedonian sanctuary we know until today. Every year customs are performed, such as the burning of the orphan, the encounter and Jupiter that can make the visit very interesting.
Palios Panteleimonas with its Macedonian architecture is one of the most picturesque villages of Pieria with its stone alleys. Cobbled streets, hostels and taverns on the slopes of lower Olympus at an altitude of 500m. enchant ,while nature lovers can do mountain biking, hiking, climbing. It has four centuries of life, was built by craftsmen from Epirus, and the Macedonian architecture is combined with the Epirus tradition. For this reason it has been declared protected while the houses have been renovated, with respect to their traditional architecture. In the central square of the village with the age-old plane trees is the old church of Agios Panteleimon, while just outside the settlement is the only environmental school in the area.
Platamonas Castle is one of the sights of the prefecture of Pieria which during the Byzantine and medieval years, served the control of the passage from Macedonia to Thessaly. The castle has towers at irregular distances from each other and there is the church of Agia Paraskevi, the only surviving church of the five that existed in the castle during the Turkish occupation. It has the basic features of medieval fortresses, two enclosures and the central tower. In the castle of Platamonas in the summer theatrical performances, music concerts and other cultural events take place within the framework of the Olympus Festival. A traditional settlement in the pines, plane trees, chestnut trees with stone houses dating from the 18th and 19th century is Paleoi Poroi.
The village is located at an altitude of 600 meters at a distance of 6 km. from Neos Poros and the Byzantine church of Agios Georgios is a reference point for visitors. Many archeological tombs and other finds of significant value have been found in the settlement, which make it historic while it is characterized for its road construction. The coast of Nea Poros is the southernmost of Pieria next to the settlement of Paleo Poros and the picturesque wetland, in the northern part of the Delta of Pinios. Large sandy beach with crystal clear waters and views of Olympus well organized is ideal for family vacations and water sports. The Wetland in the northern part of the Delta of the river Pinios is a place of great ecological value has been included in the Scientific Catalog "NATURA 2000" and has been designated an Important Bird Area in Greece.
Elatochori, a beautiful village built at an altitude of 800 meters is one of the most beautiful winter destinations in Greece. It attracts thousands of visitors every year for the wild mountain beauty, the wonderful view of Olympus, the lush forests, the picturesqueness of the settlement and the ski center. The ski center is located on the northeast side of Pieria, 8 km from Elatochori at an altitude of 1450 m. with a stunning view, while it is one of the most famous ski resorts in Greece. Stone guesthouses and taverns that serve local specialties, in harmony with the nature that embraces the settlement compose a magical place. Near the village there is the spring Agioneri, whose water is considered miraculous.
Leptokarya is a coastal town with beaches awarded the blue flag of the European Union that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, from Greece and abroad. The ancient city is associated with Dionysian worship, as it was the area where the first Dionysian Feasts were celebrated. The area is famous for its cultural activity. One of the most important events and customs in the town is the Feast of the Cedars in which the dismemberment of Orpheus by the Mainades is revived. A little further north you can find the old Leptokarya, where it is offered for unique routes in nature overlooking Mount Olympus, walking, cycling and even 4x4.
Pontians, Vlachs, Asia Minor, Kavakliotes (descendants of the Byzantines), have left their influences on the gastronomy of the area making it interesting. The area is famous for its cheese products, feta, giza and goat cheese, but also for its wonderful meats. In the mountain villages prevail meat, pies, cheese and herbs while on the coast mussels and fish but also fresh fruits such as kiwis, apples and peaches. The fertile land of the prefecture is due to the high quality of agricultural products, such as tea, wild mint, tobacco, strawberries, chestnuts and walnuts. Also cultivated is the truffle, a mushroom that grows underground, coexisting like a parasite with the roots of some trees. Tsipouro is considered one of the most representative products of the region. The mixing of sweet and salty water in the region favors the development of mussel farming, which represents about 90% of total production in Greece.