A river is a watercourse which flows towards to a lake or sea and comes from a lake, from a well or from the combination of two streams. A river from the prehistoric years was a source of life for the residents who lived around it. Human uses the power of the rivers with a lot of ways as the transport, the use of hydropower, for sports, for bathing/washing and of course as a source of food and freshwater. These important for life characteristics have made the people of ancient years to think of rivers as gods, to sacrifice to them and to create a lot of myths.
In a country like Greece for 6 months there is no rain, snow appears only on the highest tops of the mountains and you can travel for a long distance without meeting a source of freshwater. That is the reason Greeks (ancient and modern) think water as very valuable, presupposition for the human existence. Especially for the ancient Greeks, a river was something unique, gushing water from the ground without know from where, with a continuous and tireless energy. For them was an unknown power, nature’s energy which was waking up feelings for something divine, celestial.
Actually, we can describe a river as ‘’eternal’’ because sees whole the nature to be renewed at its shores, the flowers, the trees which grow next to it perish and reborn. A river sees the generations of the animals and the humans who live from its freshwater to pass and to die but the river is gifted with a continuous life without limit for its sources. So, let’s know more about some of the beautiful and life-giving rivers in Greece.
The Aliakmon River is the longest in Greece with length 322 kilometers and flows through the Greek regions West and Central Macedonia. The springs of the river are in the Gramos Mountains which is near the Greek – Albanian borders and pours into the Thermaic Gulf in Thessaloniki. Aliakmon is the only large river which has its source and flows through completely in the Greek area. Its name is a combination of two words: alas (in Greek means salt) and akmon (in Greek means anvil) and according to the Greek mythology Aliakmon was god and the son of Ocean. Also, an ancient Greek tradition mentions that everyone who wash his sheep into the Aliakmon this will become totally white.
The Aliakmon is the home for 33 species of fishes and over 215 species of birds. Approximately the 70 of these birds have their lairs there (27 rare and protected species also) and 10% of the birds’ endangered species live around the river. As a money source the river is also important as why the 90% of the mussels’ production is come from there.
Evros River – the Interbalkan
Evros is the main river of the Balkan Peninsula with total length 530 kilometers. Its springs located in the Bulgarian Rila Mountains, flows through Bulgarian towns, for a few kilometers flows the Turkish area and finally stops its journey in Greece. The river’s length in the Greek area is 206 kilometers until its outfalls into the Thracian Sea. Its outfalls make a triangle shape area which is famous as the Evros Delta and is one of the most important biotopes, characterized as protected area.
Alfios or Alpheus River
Alfios is the longest river in Peloponnese with total length 110 kilometers and it is the 5th of the biggest rivers which have their flow in the Greek area. It is a river with slow flow rate, abundant which is framed by beautiful, green forests. According to the Greek mythology, Alpheus was a god-river who had felt in love with a nymph named Arethusa. Also, Alpheus is mentioned in the 5th of the 12 labors of Hercules as the last re-routed the river to clean the Augean Stables. The Alpheus River and the area around are ideal to visit with the family for a great walk. If you visit Peloponnese do not miss this opportunity!
The Pinios River and the Delta of Pinios
The Pinios River is created by the combination of two streams, the Murgani and the Malacasian. Its length is approximately 205 kilometers and according to the mythology was son of the god Ocean and father of the nymph Daphne who was priestess of the goddess Mother Nature. Like the Evros River, its outfalls make a delta which is one of the most famous wetlands for its biodiversity. It has reeds, plane trees, elms, willows, gorse and accommodates at least 225 bird species many of which are rare or endangered (such as cormorants, egrets and flamingos). This area is protected by the Ramsar Convention and is included in the catalogue for protected areas Natura 2000. During the reproduction period, fishing is totally forbidden.
The rivers in Greece are fairly small if you compare them with those in other countries. Although, they host a wide range of biodiversity and they give life in the areas which flow through. None of the rivers in Greece are navigable.
If you travel in Greece during the summer, you can have beautiful moments and memories as why many culture events are held by riverside communities and also you can gift yourself a few extreme moments taking part in water sports in many rivers.