Wednesday, October 06, 2010

En Route To Meteora II

Later on the morning of March 17, we proceeded from Lamia to Trikala, a small city of 60,000 persons situated only twenty miles from the mountaintop monasteries of Meteora, our main destination for the day.

Trikala, like Lamia, is an ancient city, with a history going back thousands of years. That history is most evident today in the ruins of an ancient fortress that rests on the city’s highest hill (the ruins of the fortress are closed off to the public by a series of formidable stone walls; apparently the ruins are dangerous).

Trikala, too, has the requisite archeological museum (which we did not attempt to visit). Otherwise, the city is very much a modern city, filled with hotels and restaurants (it is the nearest city of size to Meteora, and serves as a way-station for tourists visiting the Meteora monasteries).

We spent two hours in Trikala, walking around the center of town, examining the exteriors of a few churches, and finding a place for lunch.

The most notable building in Trikala is a 16th-Century mosque, which is supposed to be the most important mosque ever constructed in Greece.

The mosque was long ago de-consecrated and is now owned by the city of Trikala, which maintains the centuries-old structure to a high standard. The mosque now serves as a community center/arts center.

Turks occupied this particular area of Greece, on and off, for hundreds of years. Even after Greece had achieved independence, The Ottoman Empire invaded the area around Trikala very late in the 19th Century and occupied the city for almost a decade. Evidence of Ottoman occupation is visible in the architecture of the city’s residential properties.

There was one additional building in Trikala of interest to my family, and we made a special point of locating it.

This commercial property in Trikala’s central commercial district was owned by my older brother from 2001 until 2007, when he sold it to a London consortium that in turn sold it to an Eastern European property management firm.

Given what has happened in Greece since 2007, my brother is very pleased that he disposed of the property when he did.

All of us found greatly ironic the fact that my mother, my father, my middle brother and I have now seen the building in person. The only member of my immediate family that has NOT seen the building is my older brother, the building’s former owner.

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