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Veles Gorge

The Vardar or Axios ( ; ) is the longest and major river in the Republic of Macedoniamarker and also a major river of Greecemarker. It is long, and drains an area of around . The maximum depth of river is .

The river rises at Vrutok, a few kilometers north of Gostivarmarker in the Republic of Macedonia. It passes through Gostivarmarker, Skopjemarker and into Velesmarker, crosses the Greekmarker border near Gevgelijamarker, Polykastromarker and Axioupolimarker ("town on the Axiós"), before emptying into the Aegean Seamarker in Central Macedonia west of Thessalonikimarker in northern Greece.

The Vardar basin includes two-thirds of the territory of the Republic of Macedonia. The area is sometimes called "Vardar Macedonia" after the river, to distinguish it from "Aegean Macedonia" (in Greece) and "Pirin Macedonia" (in Bulgaria).

The valley comprises fertile lands in Polog, and Thessaloniki prefectures and Gevgelija and other parts. The river is surrounded by mountains elsewhere. The superhighways Greece Interstate 1 in Greece and M1 and E75 run within the valley along the river's entire length to near Skopje.

The river is depicted on the coat of arms of Skopje, which in turn is incorporated in the city's flag.

Vardaris/Vardarec wind

The Vardaris or Vardarec is a powerful prevailing northerly ravine wind which blows across the river valley in Greek Macedoniamarker as well as in the Republic of Macedoniamarker. At first it descends along the "canal" of the Vardar valley, usually as a breeze. When it encounters the high mountains that separate Greece from the Republic of Macedonia, it descends the other side, gathering a tremendous momentum and bringing cold conditions to the city of Thessalonikimarker and the Axios delta. Somewhat similar to the mistral wind of Francemarker, it occurs when atmospheric pressure over eastern Europe is higher than over the Aegean Seamarker, as is often the case in winter.


  • The most accepted theory on the origin of the name Vardar derives Bardários from the Thracian language, from PIE *(s)wordo-wori- 'black water' (cf. German schwarz 'black', Latin suāsum 'dirt', Ossetian xuaræn 'color', Farsi xvāl 'lampblack', Old Irish sorb 'stain, dirt' ). This can be considered a translation or similar meaning of Axios, itself Thracian for 'not-shining' from PIE *n.-sk(e)i (cf. Avestan axšaēna 'dark-colored'), and found in another name at the mouth of the Danube, Axíopa "dark water", renamed in Slavic Crna voda 'black water' . The name Bardários (Βαρδάριος) was sometimes used by the Ancient Greeks in the 3rd Century BCE; the same name was widely used during Byzantine era.

  • Its Greek name Axios (Αξιός) is mentioned by Homer (Il. 21.141, Il. 2.849 ) as the home of the Paeonians, allies of Troymarker.


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