KOSTAS and the yummy world

KOSTAS and the yummy world

The Pineios River Delta (Thessaly)

April 2018

A postcard from the Pineios Delta.

The Delta on the map.

The Stomio beach.

I spent the 17 first years of my life in Larissa and all my school holidays (from June to September) I spent on the coast around the area where river Pineios flows into the Aegean Sea.   So, one would think that I have visited the Delta and that I am very familiar with it.  Well…not exactly.  I was completely unaware of this natural treasure, which I just discovered during a long weekend in the area very recently (Easter 2018). 

Metaxochori village, on the southern slopes of Kissavos (foreground) and Agia town (in the background).

I was staying at Metaxochori, at the opposite side of Mount Kissavos (Ossa), for a long weekend, and we were driving around to admire the beauty of the region in springtime.  One afternoon, just after a heart feeling lunch at taverna “The Bempis” in the seaside village Koutsoupia, we decided to continue north and visit Stomio village.

At the beach of Stomio.

Coffee time in Stomio.

Stomio is a nice seaside village at the southern end of the Delta, featuring some nice cafes on the beachfront and fish tavernas.  After enjoying our cold coffee by the beach overlooking a small lighthouse we walked on the beach and na recreation area with wooden bridges over still waters.  The weather was fantastic, so I had the idea to move further into the Delta to see if it is of any interest. 

At the Stomio Lighthouse.

A 3-hour drive in the Delta. (S=start, F=finish, orange dots=places of interest)

The bridge over Pineios, just before Paleopirgos village.

We followed the road to Alexandrini and then we crossed the bridge to Paleopirgos, before reaching the estuary of Pineios itself.  A whole new world revealed in front of our eyes: lazy streams, lavish vegetation, hundreds of exotic birds, fields covered with wild flowers of all colors, small villages, sheep and ginger colored cows grazing free, an old arched Byzantine bridge, sandy beaches, cyclists and fishing boats.  Why it took me so long to discover this “exotic” place in my “backyard”?

The "house-museum" of Sotiris Boudouris in Paleopyrgos.

The highlight of our drive was the "house-museum" of Sotiris Boudouris.  Sotiris, a well-mannered man in his late 70s, decorated his house with shells from the sea and the river in a unique and meticulous way. The house is located at the center of Paleopyrgos village.

Paleopyrgos village and Sotiris Boudouris house on the map.

Sotiris Boudouris decorated house.

There is not a single cm2 of the house or the yard that has not been covered by shells and other decorations.  The result?  A huge, multicolored, bizarre, open-air mosaic.  Quotes, country flags, Olympic symbols, European Union references, ancient temples, birds, sea creatures and many more creations of Sotiris’ vivid imagination are all there to welcome the surprised passerby. I have to admit that I found it rather kitsch, but it is admirable that Sotiris made all these by himself.

The stone bridge at the Delta.

It was him, Sotiris, who told me how to find the old stone bridge of the area.  His directions were accurate, so I manage to find it, even though it is well off road.

The bridge is located not far away from Omolio village.

The stone bridge on the map.

Papapouli settlement in the dask.

Geography


Pineios river photographed from the bridge located at the entrance of Paleopirgos village.

The lowland area of ​​the Pineios River Delta was created by the affluent action of Pineios after the geological fault between the Mount Olympus and Kissavos, where the waters of the Thessalian Lake found a way out to the sea, resulting in the creation of the Thessalian plain.

Pineios river.

Pineios is the largest river in Thessaly with a total length of more than 200 kilometers. It flows from Pindos mountain range, crosses the Thessalian plain creating impressive meanders, passes through the valley of Tempi and is poured into the Aegean Sea.

Mythology


River gods consoling Peneus for the Loss of his Daughter, Daphne (by Master of the Die, 16th century AD).

In Greek mythology, Peneus (Πηνειός/Pineios) was a Thessalian river god, one of the three thousand Rivers, a child of Oceanus and Tethys. The nymph Creusa bore him one son, Hypseus, who was King of the Lapiths, and three daughters, Menippe, Daphne and Stilbe. 

Eros shot Apollo with one of his arrows, causing him to fall in love with Daphne. It was Eros's plan that Daphne would scorn Apollo because Eros was angry that Apollo had made fun of his archery skills. Eros also claimed to be irritated by Apollo's singing. Daphne prayed to the river god Peneus to help her. He changed her into a laurel tree, which later became sacred to Apollo.

History


The estuary of the river Pineios.

According to the Historic Herodotus, the settlement of Omolion was seaside and the estuary of the river Pineios was at the height of the settlement. Nowadays, from the deposited materials of the Thessalian plain, which transports the Pineios River and from the rinsings of the neighboring mountain ranges, the estuaries of Peinios have reached the height of the settlement of Stomio.

The natural unity of the Pineios Delta was maintained until 1930. The agricultural policy implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, which aimed at increasing agricultural land, resulted in the destruction of a large part of the forest area and its conversion into agricultural land, which was distributed to farmers in the region in 1932.

Fishing boats at the delta of Pineios.

In ancient times the Delta inhabited by the Pelasgians (Aeolians) and on the slopes of Olympus and Ossa, on either side of the estuary of the river Pinios, settled later the Dorians. The Romans, the Goths (395 AD), the Normans (1083 AD) and the Turks (from the first years of conquest of Thessaly until 1923) sequentially populated the region.

Cultivated areas of the Delta.

The natural unity of the Pineios Delta was maintained until 1930. The agricultural policy implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, which aimed at increasing agricultural land, resulted in the destruction of a large part of the forest area and its conversion into agricultural land, which was distributed to farmers in the region in 1932.

A wetland


The years that followed, the degradation of wetlands of the Delta continued due to cultivation, the increase of the population, the construction of settlements and the drainage of the area aiming at the flood protection of the northern bed of Pineios.  Today, only part of the original wetlands remain as the economic interest focuses on the agricultural exploitation of the Pineus delta plain.

Fishing boats.

The area, due to the rich flora and fauna it hosts, has a great ecological and socio-economic value. Today, the estuary of Pineios is a wetland that plays an important role in preserving biodiversity and preserving its ecological balance.  It has been classified as a Landscape of Special Natural Beauty and it belongs to the habitats of special protection by the EU.  It includes wetland habitats, wild olive trees, cultivated olive groves, pastures, coastal and riparian forests, dunes and sandy heaths.

Fishing is very popular in the delta.

A wooden bridge connecting the beach to the mainland.

The delta belongs to Important Bird Areas, since many birds of prey are nesting there, and many waders’ birds use its marshes. In the area, 226 species of birds were observed.

It has been designated as a game shelter or game farm, and it is prohibited to fish during the breeding season. From the fish's point of view, the fish fauna of the freshwaters of the river and the marine area are rich in populations and species. The freshwater fish fauna includes 37 fish species and another 11 with a possible presence, while the marine fauna of the sea area includes 123 species of fish, of which only 10 of them are likely to be present today.

A fishing boat in Pineios.

Apart from the ecological value of the area, the Delta is of great importance for irrigation, livestock, logging, sand, water, recreation, tourism, education and science.

Also, the Pineios River Delta is of a big cultural value because it is bounded by the three important mythological and historical sites of Greece: Olympus, Ossa and Tempi. 

The old and the new.

Τhe estuary of the river.