Ten kilometers of magnificent scenery along Pinios River and a 25 meter wide canyon is enough to excite the imagination.
Valley of Tempi: a monument of the nature
The valley is created by the separation of two mountains (Olympus and Kissavos) after an earthquake. Then, according to historians, all water that covered the plain of Thessaly was released finding a passage to the sea.
The valley of Tempi is the natural boundary between Thessaly and Macedonia. There, Pinios river calmly flows with its tributaries; which is why the area is green and offers plenty of beauties which nature itself created.
Apollo in love and the enchanted Daphne
According to Greek mythology, god Apollo was in love with Daphne, the daughter of Pinios River. Her father, in order for his daughter not to be kidnapped by the god, transformed her into a plant, the laurel – which is abundant in the valley -. Apollo, always keeping his love for Daphne alive, transferred laurels to his oracle at Delphi.
Two ancient springs that are still present in the valley of Tempi keep this myth alive. One is the Spring of Daphne – at the exit of the valley – and the other is the Spring of Aphrodite – shortly after entering the valley-. Unfortunately, they are not open to the public.
Tempi or Baba?
The place is known as Tempi since ancient times. During the Turkish occupation though it was also known as Baba. It owed this name to the dervish Hassan Baba, a miraculous saint, well known to the Muslims, who also founded there a monastery of Sufi monks. There were monks’ cells, as well as guest cells, a big kitchen, a mosque and a minaret.
After Hassan Baba’s death, many women who were not able to have children and also children who could not walk continued to visit the place.
Unfortunately, nowadays the monument is not saved in its original architectural design but there is an attempt to rebuild it using the ruins and saved pictures from books and other pieces of art.
Castle of Oria
But the hidden secrets of Tempi do not end there as the area is the main crossing point from Macedonia to Thessaly and the whole southern Greece. That is why it remained of great strategic importance from antiquity to modern times.
Historians described with emphatic words the efforts of many armies to pass from this point without losses. From the Persians to the Romans, and to the Germans who arrived in Tempi in April 1941, this passage at Tempi was a difficult affair, requiring good knowledge of the geophysical map of the area and intelligent strategy.
With this fact, the myth of the Castle of Oria is connected.
In fact, the so-called Oria castle is a ruined watchtower, built on vertical rocks 270 meters above the narrowest point of the valley. The observatory is of strategic importance, since from here you can have a very good view on what’s happening in the whole area.
The chapel of Saint Paraskevi
One of the best known places in the area is the chapel of Agia (saint) Paraskevi.
The chapel is connected with the highway by a hanging footbridge and each year it receives thousands of visitors. For many travellers nowadays, a stop here is something like a ritual because of the natural beauty.
Next to the new church -built in 1910 by the National Railways’ Organization- there is a tiny cave, where the original chapel is to be found. It is so small that there is hardly enough space for one person to stand.
The hanging footbridge which connects this place with the highway was built in 1960. Until then, people used boats to pass from one side to the other or a very small wooden bridge.
The most exceptional day to visit this place is the 26th of July when the feastday of the church is celebrated.
Never too late for a visit
Here history, mythology, archaeology and religion are blended with the deities of Olympus, the narrations and the lyrics of the poets who praised river Pinios.
Plane trees are blended with the green of the mountain and the blue of the sea, as the leaves of the trees are bathed at the edges of the river.
At Tempi you are charmed by the beauties, calmed by the sounds and you feel small in front of the grandeur of nature – which happens to be part of the European Network for the protection of the Forests- .
So it’s never too late for a visit to the wider area.
Het Griekse Taal– & CultuurCentrum van Amsterdam