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The Magnificent Stone Bridges of Meteora

03.05.2021

The stone bridges of the Greek territory are creations of famous stone craftsmen, and serve as monuments for the modern eye. Their location within the landscape seems to be a mere extension of nature. Most of those bridges are connected with folktales, myths, even tragic stories. Some of them are well hidden deep inside nature’s beauty; and in order for someone to catch a glimpse of their magnificence, needs to walk through pathways, down into rivers, surrounded by trees, and even within gorges.

The traditional stone bridges still existing in the municipality of Trikala, serve as a modern proof of the economic status of the area, due to the constant communication of the people with the metropolitan cities. Their structure and architecture apart from being excellent and reliant, it sufficed in real needs in order to assist the habitats of the surrounding villages, the sightseers from different states, and finally, by maintaining the numbers of the local population who, through all these movements, could learn the news from the big cities.

From the 31 existing stone bridges in the municipality, three are the biggest and most important. Firstly, the famous Bridge of Pyli (or else the Bridge of Porta). It is located 2kms west from the village of Pyli and approximately 20 minutes from Trikala. Underneath the bridge runs the Portaikos river and until 1936 served as the only pathway from Thessaly to Epirus, being a unison between the mountains Koziakas and Itamos. The bridge was built by St Vissarion in 1514 and it is the second biggest arched bridge in Thessaly (its arch reaches 28 meters high). Next to the bridge exists a stone-carved pathway leading to the small settlement of Porta Panagia; there stands proudly from 1283 one of the oldest Christian temples in the municipality.

Just a few miles from the Bridge of Pyli, is located the imposing and beautiful Bridge of Palaiokarya with its two artificial waterfalls. The bridge was created in the 16th century, between 1500 and 1550. It is a single-arched stone bridge of 26 meters in total. The waterfall behind the river is 12 meters high and the falling water draws a magnificent image which awes the visitor’s eye. The arch of the bridge reaches 19 meters high and underneath flows the river of Palaiokaritis. The bridge connected Thessaly with Epirus and during the days of old its route served most of the local villages and their inhabitants. Nowadays, even though the bridge is not used, its location and beauty seem to be perfectly harmonized with the natural landscape. The Bridge of Palaiokarya is safely surrounded and protected by high steep rocks, and plantation on the riverbanks.

Last but not least, the Bridge of Sarakina, which was constructed in the 16th century (1520) by the Archbishop of Larissa, Vissarion II. In its initial form the bridge had six arches, with the biggest being the third from the left river bank, underneath which runs the deepest riverbed of the Pineios River. According to Greek Mythology, Peneios was the son of titan Oceanus and nymph Tethys. During medieval ages (1150), the Byzantine empress Anna Komnini named the river Salavrias, while Homer refers to the river as “Argirodinis,” which can be translated as “the one with silver water.”