July 30, 2012

St. Paraskevi in the Valley of Tempe

The Valley of Tempe (near Larisa) is a gorge in northern Thessaly, Greece, located between Olympus to the north and Ossa to the south. The valley is 10 kilometers long and as narrow as 25 meters in places, with cliffs nearly 500 meters high, and through it flows the Pineios River on its way to the Aegean Sea. In ancient times, it was celebrated by Greek poets as a favorite haunt of Apollo and the Muses. On the right bank of the Pineios sat a temple to Apollo, near which the laurels used to crown the victorious in the Pythian Games were gathered. In the thirteenth century AD a church dedicated to Saint Paraskevi was erected in the valley.

In the early 1910's, along with the opening of the railway, a church was built in the area of the old church to St. Paraskevi. It is linked to the National Highway with a bridge which passes over the Pineios River, called St. Paraskevi Bridge. The beauty of the area is truly unique.

Before the bridge was built in the 1960's, people could only visit this church by boat. Near the cave-church is a large spring, and through a small hole one could access ancient holy water.

Thousands of believers visit this holy shrine every year, and it is celebrated on July 26.