Arnaia

Arnaia is recognized as one of the most beautiful mountainous villages in Macedonia (population 2300), built in a privileged position, with plenty of running water and surrounded by lush forests. It still preserves its traditional architectural style. Liarigkova, named Arnaia in 1928, is mentioned for the first time in a document, in late 14th century, as a dependency of Konstamonitou monastery of Mount Athos. The village seems to have been created by farmers of the dependency around the well of the age-old plane tree that is located in the main square. The water flows through the tree’s body and -according to tradition- whoever drinks it will marry a woman born in Arnaia!

The radial alleys start from the main square, pass through smaller squares and neighborhoods. Here you will admire the rich traditional reserve that this settlement has to offer. In the district of Gannoudena, south of the main square, you will come across the famous Iatrou mansion operating as the Historical-Folklore museum of Arnaia and the Weaving museum. This district has the most remarkable traditional houses, painted in various colors. They were built after the 1821 disaster.

Descending from the square on the main road, you will come across the famous 1871 school named “Urban school of Liarigkova”. It is the most well built school of the 19th century in Halkidiki and houses the Town Hall since 1990. Its wall construction follows the technique used at that time in Mount Athos. Its tall bell tower, built in 1889 is a symbol of Arnaia. Beside it there is the church of St. Stephen and at the opposite side the old inn, nowadays operating as Alexandrou guesthouse. This whole area, “chorostasi” as the residents name it, used to be the center of the village. 

In the old days, people used to go through the bell tower in order to enter the temple of St. Stephen. You can go through the courtyard and see the saying “every cloud has a silver lining” once again confirmed. The temple was built in 1812, was burnt down in 1821 and the residents returned finding only walls standing. They rebuilt it but it was again destroyed by a fire in 2005. The ruins of three older temples were found underneath it, during the restoration work by the 10th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities. Those of an early Christian temple of 4th or 5th century, those of a Byzantine temple of 10th-11th century with important hagiographies and those of a post-Byzantine temple built in 1812. A gift from God as residents say, since it proves that the history of the settlement goes back 1.200 years.

The temple of Agioi Anargyroi, built in 1919 and designed by Anastasios Orlandos is also remarkable. In 1924, a group of monks filled the temple with hagiographies. Vespers and Matins are chanted daily. The impressive building of the public school with its huge courtyard is also very interesting. It is a characteristic sample of school architecture in the 1930’s.

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