On the national Athens – Thessaloniki highway, right after the valley of Tempi, we come to a sign in front of the railway station building that reads Rapsani. The road snakes up and meets Rapsani at an altitude of 640m.
The village is built on the south-eastern slopes of kato Olympus, at a location bathed in sunlight throughout the day. The village’s unique position, its clear and digestive waters and cool climate have made it a very popular summer resort. The paved square of Rapsani with its plane trees, mulberries and linden trees offers a view of Tempi is filled with small traditional cafes and shops selling tsipouro and, of course, the famous Rapsani wine.
The Oikonomios School was founded in 1790; significant personalities taught there such as K. Koumas, D. Pezaros and Konstantinos Oikonomou Ex Oikonomon.Konstantinos Oikonomou was born on 27 August 1780 in Tsaritsani. His scholarly father taught him the holy scriptures and the Greek and Latin language. He was taught French by Zisis Kavras. He was an excellent writer, teacher and orator. Konstantinos Oikonomou wrote the eulogies for the Patriarch from Odessa, and for Theodoros Kolokotronis. He was a prolific writer. Some of his manuscripts, however, went missing in Constantinople after the persecution of 1821. When he was in Russia, still at an early age, he became fluent in the Russian language and published a paper on the relation between Russian-Slavic and Greek. He was a member of the imperial Academy of St Petersburg and a corresponding member of the Berlin Academy. He died in Athens on 9 March 1857.
Just five kilometers north of coastal Neoi Poroi and under the roof of imposing Mt. Olympus is the traditional settlement of Palaioi Poroi, a beautiful and picturesque village with an altitude of 600 m, a perfect place for strolls among stone-built houses and churches dating back to the 19th century. Palaioi Poroi is a favorite destination for nature lovers. Sprawled above the village, a forest rich in pines, chestnut and strawberry trees, small streams and the spectacular view of Mt. Olympus against the Thermaic Gulf revive one’s whole being. Hotels, lodges, taverns with local delicacies featuring locally-grown ingredients make the passage through Palaioi Poroi an unforgettable experience.
Old Panteleimonas is a traditional settlement that has been preserved in its original state, without having undergone any architectural alterations or interventions in the process of time. The village, which was most probably founded in the 14th century, is built over an altitude of 700m. and offers amazing views towards Mount Olympus and the Golf of Thermaikos. Due to landslides along the cliffs, the village’s permanent residents have moved to New Panteleimonas. Most of the buildings forming the traditional settlement were bought and were renovated by people living in Larisa and Thessaloniki, who were eager to maintain intact the region’s architectural heritage.
Among sights to visit, there is the church of Agios Panteleimonas, old buildings, the renovated school-building and the picturesque village-square with its taverns serving local cuisine, and its known barbequed goat and cheese (galotiri). Cobblestoned alleys lead to the settlement’s center, while cars stay parked at the outskirts of the village.
Built at an altitude of 400 m, the village acquired its name (ed. note: vrontos means loud noise) from the roar of the mountain’s waters rushing through the village. It’s a a ghost town today, with the old church of Agios Nikolaos being the only surviving building, with a hand-carved wooden altarpiece, which has been declared a protected monument.
On the slopes of Ossa above the picturesque Tempi valley, we come to Ambelakia, named after the small vineyards (=ambelia) that grew in the region and were the locals’ primary occupation prior to 1778. That was when the first cooperative was created, known as the Ambelakia group, which virtually paved the way for the birth of the modern co-op movement in Greece and also in Europe. The village is situated amidst unique surroundings, with lush vegetation provided by chestnut trees, pine trees and many springs.