Castles, rivers, elaborate bridges, Byzantine churches, a rich musical tradition, fine gastronomy, hospitable people and a host of Christmas elves. Located at the north-western end of Thessaly, where the plains start flirting with the Pindus mountain range, Trikala is ready to share with you its unique stories.
Lithaios River flows right through the city centre and this is the place where, according to Strabo, Asclepius, the god of medicine, was born. Walk on its banks, pose in front of the iconic Central Bridge, built in 1886 by French engineers, and in front of the falls at Asclepius Bridge and don’t miss the coffee and brunch at Diverso by the river.
On a hill northeast stands a majestic castle, built in the 6th century AD by the Byzantine emperor Justinian on the ruins of the acropolis of the ancient city of Trikki. Climb up to the central clock tower and take in the view all the way to Pindus and Meteora.
At the foot of the hill spreads the old town, consisting of the neighborhoods of Varoussi and Manavika. The former is known for its old mansions, built between the 17th and 19th century, as well as its narrow alleys. Here you will get a chance to admire most of the city’s Byzantine churches.
A little further down, among the typical stone buildings of Manavika appears the famous three-dimensional mural which depicts snapshots of the old city’s daily life. It also features Tsitsanis playing his bouzouki on the balcony. Back in the old days, this was the quarter of workshops, warehouses and grocery stores, hence its name (manavika in Greek means grocery stores). Nowadays, it has transformed into a cosmopolitan area, the most popular place for dining and lively nightlife. Check out the Kripti (crypt), the city’s all-time-classic cocktail bar.
The Vassilis Tsitsanis Museum is housed in the upper floor of the old prison building and exhibits personal belongings and a rich audiovisual archive of his work. The ground floor hosts the 16th-century Turkish baths. Along with Kursum Mosque which stands a few meters further down the street, the baths were part of a complex of buildings, built by Osman Shah, the governor of Sanjak of Trikala and nephew of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
For many people the city’s name is synonymous to Asclepius Street, the most central pedestrian street and a point of reference in the modern part of the city, around which the residents’ commercial and social life rolls on. On Asclepius Street and the surrounding pedestrian streets, there is a variety of shops, small shopping centers, numerous dining options, stylish cafes and the Town Hall. Among the various buildings stands the imposing neoclassical mansion, which houses the historic hotel Panellinion and restaurant Aegli, which is famous for its delectable local cuisine.
On the opposite bank there is the central Iroon Polytechniou square with the characteristic fountain pond and the small listed houses on its upper side. One of them is home to Cups Nine café which features an exquisite brunch menu.
Trikala becomes Greece’s capital during the Christmas season. Each year, Santa Claus and his elves create the most spectacular Christmas park in Greece, the famous Mill of Elves. The carousel, the amusement park, the ice rink, the chocolate factory, the energy park, the polar express, the Christmas market and the exciting concerts are only some of the park’s activities. This year, its gates will stay open from November 30 till January 6 with free entry.
Do you know?
- Trikala boasts a great musical tradition since it is the birthplace of many important musicians and performers such as Vassilis Tsitsanis, Apostolos Kaldaras, Kostas Virvos and Dimitris Mitropanos.
- More than 30,000 bicycles roam the city streets at a ratio of 1 bicycle per 2.5 residents. In fact, there is a special police unit that carries out bicycle patrols.
- In Trikala traffic conduct differs from the typical Greek mentality. Pedestrians on the crossings and bikes always have priority, while car honks are a rare phenomenon. So if you happen to drive to the Thessalian city make sure you adapt to local culture.
- In Trikala there is Greece’s highest natural Christmas tree. It is a 33-meter and about 50 years old sequoia that dominates the Iroon Polytechniou square.
- The railway station of Trikala was built in 1886 by the French construction company of the Greek railway network, during the presidency of Charilaos Trikoupis. Outside the station you will see Karvouniaris, a more than a 100-year-old small steam train, which served the Paleofarsalos – Kalabaka connection.