In 1960 railwaymen built the bridge as a bridge for the “miracle” of Agia Paraskevi, to make it easier for pilgrims to approach the temple
For sixty-three years, the bridge of Agia Paraskevi in Pineos stood next to Olympus, in the narrows of the Tempe valley, where the myth says that Apollo chased the nymph Daphne, daughter of the river Pineos, trying to conquer her.
At the same spot, on the side of the mountain, the railwaymen had already built, many years before, a temple to Saint Paraskevi in gratitude, as it is said, for her own intervention when a rock fell from above, but at the last moment ended up in the waters of Pinios, avoiding the passing train.
So, in 1960 the bridge was also made to facilitate pilgrims to approach the templesince until then they only crossed the river by boat.
The magical resting place for travelers passing through Tempe is no more after Storm Daniel swept everything away
Although it resisted a lot, the bridge could not be saved and broke on one side, unable to bear the weight of the trees and the pressure of the waters.
Alongside, the small church of Agia Paraskevi was flooded and destroyed.
“We never had a problem with the bridge. At least from what I remember but also according to the historical events in the area, it is the first time that the water level of the river Pinios reached 18 meters”, says the mayor of Tembo, Georgios Manolis, to APE-MPE
In fact, as he mentions, in 1987 there were again flooding phenomena as the March snows had suddenly melted and large amounts of water gathered in the river, but without such an intense phenomenon.
Millions of visitors have passed through the bridge and the pilgrimage
Mr. Manolis characterizes the bridge and the pilgrimage as a point of reference for all of Greece as millions of visitors have passed through it over the years. In fact, a particular characteristic of her was the fact that she pulsated when many people were on top of her
“As long as the access was from the old national road, there was panic there. People made sure to stop to light a candle, worship and admire the magnificent scenery,” he comments.
It reminds, at the same time, that according to Greek mythology, there Apollo hunted Daphne and her mother transformed her into the Daphne plant, to escape him. “They say, in fact, that when a glacier was formed in the area millions of years ago, the only spot where Daphne survived was this one, next to Pinios, as it was warm enough and the plant managed to survive. Indeed, there are laurels there,” he says.
Over the years, the visitors decreased as PATHE was built and the passing driver goes through the tunnels, so it is not so easy to get off the road to go to Agia Paraskevi. Now one has to go there consciously and not just stop, as before.
And even though the small church belongs to the Metropolis of Larissa and Tyrnavos and the municipality has no income from the visitation of the holy pilgrimage, the mayor suggests to the visitors, passing by this point, to go up to the historical Ampelakia and have lunch in Rapsani with the famous PDO wine, on a special tourist excursion.
The waters are receding slowly
At the same time, the receding of the waters is taking place at a slow rate, and from its evolution, the extent of the damage suffered by the bridge will then be determined. “The bridge was not completely destroyed. On one side it came off. As soon as the waters recede, we will see if it can be restored or if a new deck will have to be made, because the foundations do not seem to have suffered anything,” notes Mr. Manolis.
Finally, he underlines the need for its rapid restoration as, as he says, it is an infrastructure of great, timeless value. “I believe that we will all push together to restore the bridge as soon as possible,” he adds.
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