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In the fertile valley of Echedoros

In the fertile valley of Echedoros

29 Feb, 2024

Wanting to make another foray into nature a few days ago, we thought of looking - with the new online media that we all now have - in the surrounding areas to find something that we haven't already seen.

So here before our eyes is the "cave of Agios Georgios" in Kilkis. Kilkis is a lowland town, in the middle of a large rural area, and does not predispose the passing traveler to what is important to find and see there.

On the northern side of the city, however, stretches a beautiful forest on top of a hill on top of which is built the excellent stone-built church of Agios Georgios (built around 1856), which is a typical example of 19th century architecture with an impressive wood-carved iconostasis and beautiful images . The temple is located on the highest point of the city and has a fantastic view, while the forest is beautifully landscaped and ideal for hiking and recreation.

The hill and the surrounding area have been inhabited, as evidenced by the finds, since the archaic era and is known since the time of the Trojan War and the Paeons who lived there. The city took its name from the ancient city of Kallikos (Kallikos was the leather sieve with which the gold was collected from the river Ekhedoros) and in Roman times it was called Callicum. After all, the river got the name "Gallikos" from the settlement of Kallikos.

On the south side of the hill of Agios Georgios, the entrance to a cave was accidentally discovered around 1925 by the quarryman Georgios Pavlidis, during the execution of works. The Cave of Agios Georgios is the most important tourist attraction of the city of Kilkis and ranks among the most valuable caves in Greece.

Its first mapping was done in 1960 by the then president of the Hellenic Speleological Society, Mrs. Anna Petroheilou, while its exploitation work began in 1977 under her supervision and lasted six years, while it was opened to the public in 1986. The cave consists of two floors, it covers over a thousand square meters and the total length of the routes that have already been explored is three hundred meters. It has a rare decoration of coral material and a multitude of stalactites, stalagmites and compositions, which give it a special beauty. It is also of great palaeontological interest, as more than 300 specimens of fossilized animal bones in a very good state of preservation, aged between 10.000 and 100.000 years, were found inside. Their study showed the presence of large spotted hyena, fox, large weasel, (a subspecies of weasel reported for the first time in Greece), wild ox, small but also large horse, giant deer (Megaeros) and red deer. Also noteworthy is the presence of fossilized bones and teeth belonging to small mammals (rodents). Hyenas inhabited the cave, while herbivores were either found by chance or were the main food of carnivores.

The Cave of Agios Georgios is indicated from a medical point of view as suitable for the treatment of respiratory diseases. In particular, after a relevant study, it proved to be ideal and gathers all the conditions as a speleotherapy center, with a beneficial effect in cases of chronic diseases of the respiratory system (asthma) and with particularly good results in children, in the treatment of skin diseases resulting from allergic infection form and in the general revitalization of the human body. This particularity of his is also the cause of spreading his fame beyond the Greek borders.

After the person in charge of the Cave showed us around the area with exceptional kindness and willingness and informed us about the special and rare characteristics of the cave, we continued our journey towards the Kroussa forest in the northwest of Kilkis.

The French River also originates from the Krusia Mountains. In ancient times, the Macedonians called him "Echedoro", with the etymology of the word referring to the term "the one who has the gifts because of the gold bars he carried in his bed.

The next site we spotted and wanted to visit was the Palatian Archaeological Site, discovered in 1960 when four marble statues and inscribed tablets were accidentally found there and excavations revealed the ruins of an ancient city. The city was built on top of a hill, at the foot of the Krusia massif, verdant today as it was thousands of years ago, in a naturally fortified position, which controlled the important passage from the ancient area of ​​Kristonia to the areas of Parorvelia and Sintiki, i.e. Lake Kerkini and Serres and even further west. It has been argued that the uncovered city is identified with Ioron known from ancient sources, however, this identification is not confirmed by epigraphical evidence to date.

1  abroad

left Hyena – right, Cave outside

Museum 2 subgr 1

left Palatian Museum – right Palatian

1 subgr game

left Palatian – right Exhibit, game

little bird

Exhibit, little bird

staircase

Cave, ladder

 

The oldest period of habitation of Palatianos dates back to the 10th century. e.g. and continued in the following centuries. But its heyday dates back to the Roman era, from the 1st to the 3rd century. AD, when it was destroyed by an unknown cause.

The city was protected by a fortified enclosure and developed with a highly organized layout plan, adapted to the terrain's morphology. It was densely populated with paved streets, water and sewerage, spacious dwellings with storage and outdoor areas, as well as laboratories (mining and others) and places of worship.

The houses were spacious, with their main rooms usually placed along the road and auxiliary semi-outdoor spaces, in which a rectangular cobbled floor is often found, which probably served as the base of a domestic altar. They had tiled roofs and their walls were plastered with white mortar. Their floors in some cases were paved with stones and in others they were laid with clay slabs or with clay. Internal structures were found inside them, mainly desks and corner brick structures for food preparation, while dozens of finds, such as clay and glass vessels, lamps, iron and copper tools, figurines, molds for making vases, figurines and clay tiles, as well as the multitude of coins, provide us with information about the daily life of the inhabitants, their occupations and their religious beliefs. Finds from the Palatian show a robust, developed and diverse urban society, one associated with agriculture and animal husbandry, but also craftwork and trade, while the multitude of coins reveals trade relations with other Macedonian cities.  (Source of historical data: Ministry of Culture http://odysseus.culture.gr)

The most important building is Hero I of 3th A.D. century. On a tall rectangular plinth within the hero, were set the statues of five members of an illustrious family, who were worshiped as heroes. Four of the five statues were discovered in 1960 and the inscriptions on the pedestal reveal their identity. They are the father, Patraos, the mother Ammia and their three sons Alexander, Zoilos and Medes. The name Patras is reminiscent of the royal house of the Paeonians. The fifth statue of Zoilos was never found.

The four members of the Patras family still gaze at the Krusia mountains from the monument erected in their honor.

 

 

 

Text and photos: Magdaleni Poungoura
Visual artist - Photographer - Tourism & Culture Journalist

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