The Region of Thessaly
Thessaly, with its four Administrative Units (Larissa, Magnesia, Trikala and Karditsa), lies in Central Greece and is one of the country’s largest regions in size and population. Thessaly has some of the biggest mountains in the country, Olympus, Kissavos and Pelion, and several smaller ones all over its region. There is a quite long river, the third longest one in Greece, Pinios River crossing the Tempi Valley. Thessaly’s coastline has a lot of beautiful beaches and landscapes and it is very attractive to tourists. Volos is the only big harbour in Thessaly and to the east there are Northern Sporades islands, namely Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnissos and other smaller islands. The climate is continental.
Human presence in Thessaly goes back to the Palaeolithic Period. Europe’s first Neolithic civilization was created in Thessaly in the 7th millennium B.C. Significant remains of settlements from the Neolithic Period were found at Sesklo http://www.unige.ch/lettres/archeo/introduction_seminaire/neolithique/wijnen.html and Dimini ( http://odysseus.culture.gr/h/3/eh351.jsp?obj_id=2501 ), very well preserved archaeological sites.
It was from ancient Iolkos (modern Volos) where the Argonauts began their trip. This period of time was marked by the migration and relocation of various racial groups.
During the Persian invasion in 480 B.C. because they didn’t find any resistance, the Persians used the region as their winter base.
Macedonian rule was replaced by Roman rule in 196 B.C. Many military operations took place in Thessaly during the Roman “civil” wars. As soon as Diocletian reorganized the Roman State, Thessaly and Magnesia became a separate province.
Christianity appeared in Thessaly during the 1st century A.D.
Since the 4th century A.D. and onwards the region had been suffering many enemy attacks by the Goths, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Bulgarians, Normans and Vlachs.
From 1205 to 1222, Thessaly was under the dominance of Franks, and in 1222 it became part of the Despotate of Epirus. In the period of Serbian Dominance around 1348, the monastic life flourished at Meteora, a really worth visiting tourist attraction (http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/455). The Ottoman occupation in Thessaly started in 1392-1393 and led to an extensive islamisation and feudalism in Thessaly. The liberation came in 1881.
In 1910 a big agricultural reform started in Thessaly (known as “Kileler Riot”) and as a result of that, agriculture in Thessaly had a great development in all fields. The German-Italian occupation caused severe problems and regression during the 2nd World War and the civil war that followed also had negative effects on the development of the region.
After 1950 there have been both domestic migration and emigration in Greece, mountain villages were deserted and their inhabitants moved and made the modern urban centres, Larissa and Volos.
Nowadays, in all its four big cities of Thessaly there are quite big industrial zones, active trade, big agricultural, animal and milk production and a continuously growing touristic activity. Pelion, the Northern Sporades islands, Meteora, Tempi, Pertouli and Lake Plastira are really worth visiting.
The four different cities of the University of Thessaly
“The Land of the Argonauts and the Centaurs”
Volos, situated between the Pagasitikos Golf and the Pelion Mountain, is the capital of Magnesia and one of the largest and most modern cities of Greece. The privileged location of Volos and its port attracts important investment ensuring the prosperity of the region.
The economic development meets also a cultural blossoming in a city that succeeded in combining the neo-classic and the modern and faces the future with a serious respect of the past.
The great folk painter Theofilos lived and worked in Volos at the end of the 19th century and he was followed by another big artist, Giorgio De Chirico, son of the President of the Thessalian Railways, Evaristo de Chirico, who built the small but famous railway of Pelion Mountain.
The significant Neolithic settlements of Dimini and Sesklo are close to the city of Volos. They appear to be the first traces of permanent human settlement in the wider region.
Volos Archaeological Museum ( http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/455 ) is really worth visiting, as well as the Kitsos Makris Folklore Museum (which belongs to the University ), the Theofilos Museum ( in Anakasia) and the Museum of Folk Art and History in Makrinitsa http://www.hotelsline.gr/root/newhotel/mx/m_Magnesia_Makrinitsa3_eg.asp
The journey into Magnesia begins in Volos but also continues in Pelion Mountain with 24 picturesque and traditional villages easily accessed and relatively in a small distance from the city of Volos and in Sporades Islands (http://www.greeka.com/sporades/) . You can also visit Amaliapolis, Pteleos and Achilleio.
For more information: http://www.magnesia-tourism.gr
Larissa has always been the capital of the Thessalian Plain. It is a dynamic and vibrant city with a rapid development, following the modern path of technology while preserving its historical identity. According to ancient mythology, it was named after the nymph Larissa, who drowned in the waters of Pinios River. On the river’s banks there is the “Alcazar Park”, a green oasis for the city’s residents and visitors. On the citadel hill, known as the Fort (Frourio) there is an ancient Acropolis and the towering Metropolitan church of Saint Achillios. The first Ancient Theater of Larissa (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Ancient_Theatre_Larissa.jpg) was built on the slope of this hill and it is the second largest ancient theatre in Greece after that of Ancient Epidaurus.
You can also visit in Larissa the Archaeological Museum, the Municipal Art Gallery ( Georgios Katsigras Museum), the Ethnographical and Historical Museum, the Hippocrates Museum and the Veterinary Museum.
The journey in Larissa begins in its center and continues in Tempi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vale_of_Tempe) , in Pinios Delta and in Mount Olympus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Olympus).
For more information: http://www.tourismlarissa.gr
With a population close to 40.000, Karditsa is the fourth largest city of Thessaly. Its foundation is placed in the late Byzantine period as its name is not Turkish and therefore it existed before the Turkish invasion in West Thessaly in 1393.
Since the early 20th century the modernization of the city has been rather intense. Today Karditsa is a modern bustling city with gentle inhabitants, good city planning, beautiful buildings, many shops, sufficient sports facilities and squares. In the recent years the need to deal with the traffic jam in the center of the city made the Municipal Authorities to create a 4 Km urban and 10 km peri-urban bicycle track.
You can also visit in Karditsa the Eleftherias Square (the central city’s square with several statues of the Muses), the Dikastirion Square, the Metropolitan Bishop’s Mansion, the Dimotiki Agora, the Museum of the Photography and Cinematography Club, the Old Electrical Factory, the Metropolitan Church of Saints Konstantin’s and Eleni, the Pafsylipon Park, the Foklore and the Archaeological Museums and its Municipal Gallery.
The journey in Karditsa begins in its center and continues in Lake Plastira, in Neraida, Neohori and Mouzaki, in the Argithea Villages and in other worth visiting places all around the Karditsa Prefecture, where everybody can enjoy nature in many different landscapes.
For more information: http://www.Karditsa.gr
The place where Trikala city is built was an important commercial center but also a pole of attraction for invaders till 1204, mainly due to the crossing of two great commercial routes, both from Epirus and Macedonia. In ancient times it was called Trikki, named after the homonymous nymph who was considered either as Pinios or Asopos River’s daughter. This was the name of the city up until the early Byzantine Period.
The Gkika Bridge over Litheos River (the main river which crosses the city) is well known for its architecture and it is built in 1886 by French engineers. Nowadays it is used only for pedestrians. The city in general has many beautiful squares which serve as resting places and meeting points for the ihnabitants, like the Riga Fereou and the Kitrilaki Square.
You can also visit in Trikala the Asklipio, the Fortress and the Koursoum Mosque (or Osman Sach’s Mosque).
The journey in Trikala begins in its center and continues in Pili, the Aspopotamos villages, in Kalambaka, and of course in Meteora, the famous Monastic Community on the stone giants composing one of the most miraculous and imposing geological phenomena all over the world.
For more information: http://www.trikala.gr