"Actually, this place has nothing special here," says Father Savvas, "everything that gives him this spell is from the girl". The place he thinks is located in a gorge above the village Vrondou near Katerini / Pierias. Here flows a brook, which is straight from the towering mountains of Mount Olympus and here is the sanctuary of Agia Kori (holy girl).
They are called her because her true name is still unknown today. It came from the Zagorochoria, the isolated villages in the area of Ioannina. The story took its beginning between 1790 and 1810, at the time of the rule of Ali Pasha. If she had not noticed a high-ranking Turkish official who fell in love with her and wanted to see her in her harem, she might well have been given a peaceful life. Since she was a Christian believer and had to convert her to Muslim faith, she did not question a connection with a Turk. Although the parents were offered a high bridal payment, she offered the offer. Thus, the bridegroom decided to let his soldiers be fetch her violently from their parents' home. A young man who, like many Greek boys, received a Muslim education from the occupiers to become a "good Turkish soldier", but remained Greek in his heart, warned the girl, and she fled to the village of Vrondou . She was received hospitably by the inhabitants, but did not name her name to anyone, because she feared that her huntsmen could find their refuge. She lived for a few months in the village until the pretty girl noticed an Aga, the commander of the region. He reported his discovery to Ioannina and Ali Pasha sent soldiers to fetch her.
She learned about it in time and climbed into a ravine near the village. Their pursuers were said she has fallen down, whereupon they returned to Ioannina. For fear of new discovery, she stayed in the ravine and lived there in a small cave. Occasionally, she had some herds of bread cut down with cheese, she had to content herself with what nature offered her. So she lived there a few years until one day there was no sign of her life. A long time later, woodcutter descended into the ravine and found a skeleton embracing an icon. They remembered the girl who had been hiding in front of the Turks, and it had to be her skeleton. It seemed to them as a miracle that their bones had not been touched by wild animals. When they were digging a grave to bury their remains, a source of water smelled pleasantly. On their tomb, the woodcutters erected a small chapel which they decorated with the icon that the girl hugged until the last time. Since then, the girl appeared in the spirit of the sick and called her to heal her. And indeed the faithful came and climbed under the danger of life into the ravine. In place of today's bridge, two tree trunks passed over the brook. Since the belief in miraculous cures of the girl was strengthened in the population and many miracles were attributed to it, the circle of believers who sought their help grew constantly, and ultimately it was revered as a saint.
So gradually a staircase was laid, a bridge was built, and the chapel enlarged into a small church. The icon, by the way, was in the church until the year 1968, until it was stolen. "We are still busy today with the expansion and the embellishment of the place," says Father Savvas, who for 22 years has descended the roughly 160 steps of the stairs to trust couples, baptize children or hold a worship service on request. "Unfortunately, there are no written documents attesting this story," he says, "as it was then passed on from generation to generation." However, there are researches that confirm the truth of this myth. The most prominent example of this is a book written by the historian Elena Scott of the University of Berkeley, California a few years ago. Today, Christians of all nationalities visit this place of pilgrimage. Each year at Whitsun, thousands of faithful come here to honor the saint.
A pagan-time phenomenon is to bind objects and garments to bushes and trees around the sacred place. The healing power of the girl is to be transferred to its owner with the help of these personal objects.
It is almost indispensable to visit the Agia Triada church when you visit this area. The way to her is well signposted, it is near the old Vrondou. She sits on a rock in front of the monumental mountain walls of Olympus. It was not until this year, after being thoroughly purified and externally placed in its original state, that a clay tablet was found, in which the date of its edification was dated to 1570 in Byzantine script. Their origin is attributed to hermits who lived hundreds of years ago in the abundant caves. Inside, the sacristy is located behind the church ship, where clearly different layers of painted plaster are visible. Dizzy loops have a fantastic view of deep gorges from the small balcony and the wide plain towards the sea. The balcony is built on solid rock, the only danger when entering is to bump your head at the low door frame. On our way back we stop in a tavern to strengthen ourselves with a Frappé. Petros, the son of the landlord, tells us about another aspect of the place. Vrondou is one of the starting points for climbing Mount Olympus. A small association of mountaineers has made the effort to identify ways, so it should be possible to follow them even without a guide. At about 1700 m there is a hut with overnight accommodation. According to Petros, professionals will be able to cope with the ascent with a difference of about 2300 m between Agia Triada and the peaks within 6 hours. Well, we believe this time and push ourselves in the opposite direction, namely for bathing to the sea.