Short description of Thessaly region
Thessaly has the largest plain in Greece, a densely cultivated area ringed round by the Pindus, Othrys, Pelion, Ossa, Olympus and Agrapha mountain ranges. The River Penios meanders across the plain, and to the north it falls through the celebrated Tempi gorge, a narrow pass above which tower the steep slopes of Mt Olympus and Mt Ossa.
Archaeological excavations in this region have disclosed that Thessaly was inhabited 100.000 years ago. Remains of later periods, Old Stone Age and New Stone Age, have been unearthed at Sesklo, Dimini, ioikos and elsewhere in the region. More than 100 prehistoric settlements were discovered in Thessaly.
The inhabitans (3000-1100 B.C.) were called Aiolians, Aimones, Minyes, Boetians, Achaioi, Hellenes, Myrmidones etc. The region of the plain was divided into four districts called Pelasgiotis, Thessaliotis, Estiaiotis and Phthiotis. There were also mountainous districts like Perraivia, Dolopia and Magnesia.
During the Classic period Thessaly tried to be independent from the alliances of other Greek states. It is characteristic that during the Peloponnesian war most of Thessalian cities became rich by selling agricultural products and horses to the Athenians and Spartians too.
In 352 the king of Macedonia, Philip II, occupied Thessaly. In 197 B.C. the region became a district of the Roman state.
During the Byzantine period Thessaly was a separate district and suffered the invasions of barbarians. After the occupation of Constantinople by the Franks, the area was divided in fiefdoms ruled by the nobles.
In 1230 it was liberated by the Master of Epirus Theodore. In 1309 it was occupied and ruined by the Catalans and later by the Albanians. In the 14th century Thessaly became a province of the Servians. From the 14th century the Turks tried to occupy it, finally succeeding in 1420.
The liberation of Thessaly from the Turks was effected in 1881 except the province of Elassona which was eventually united in 1912.
What places we visit nearby Thessaly ?
- Mount Olympus. This mythical mountain, site of the Palaces of the twelve ancient gods of the Greek mythology, is situated in the northeast of Thessaly. It forms a natural barrier on the road to
southern Greece and has been a mountain of great strategic importance from prehistoric times.Olympus has many towering peaks and imposing gorges. Its slopes offer a fantastic area, suitable for winter sports.From January to mid-March there is usualy snow in abundance at an altitude of 1,500 meters. Many times, during the same period, skiing is possible and pleasant at an altitude of 1,000 meters. The skiers usually aproach from the west, via Elassona, the so-called Lower Olympus, while the mountaineers reach Upper Olympus from the east, via Litochoro.
- METEORAMeteora is a strange region filled with outcrops of giant rocks in the form of towers and pinnacles, ranging in height from 100 to 150 metres. Once a flourishing monastic community with 24 monasteries, Meteora now has only five occupied monasteries. They were first built in the 14th century by monks seeking isolation and spiritual salvation. The most remarkable features of the monasteries are their domed roofs, wooden galleries, and their upper stories which project precariously over the ladders and net hoists. Today they can be reached without effort along an asphalt road or by narrow stony paths hewn out of the rocks. Of the monasteries that are open to visitors today those of Varlaam, Metamorphosis, Roussanos and Aghios Stephanos are veritable Byzantine museums exhibiting among other things superb icons, old manuscripts and unique mosaics and frescoes.
- City of Kalambaka.This is a fascinating small town built on the site of the ancient city of Aeginion, some 3 kms from Meteora.
- TRIKALA. The capital town of the province after which Trikala is named, stands on the site of the province after which Trikala is named, stands on the site of ancient Trikki which together with the island of Cos and Epidaurus, was consecrates to Asclepius, the god of medicine.It was also famed for its horses. On the summit of its wooded hill is situated a Byzantine fortresr built on the site of the ancient acropolis
- LARISSA. The enormous region of Thessaly has chosen Larissa, an active commercial centre, for its capital town. Progressive and prosperous, Larissa is also a busy junction of routes linking the whole of Central Greece with Epirus, Macedonia and southern Greece. It is built on the site of the ancient city, prehistoric capital of Pelasgians. Worth visiting are the medieval castle and the archaeological museum
VALE OF TEMPI. The Vale of Tempi is situated 29 kms north of Larissa between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa (Kissavos). The National Road leading to Thessaloniki goes through this magnificent narrow pass alongside the River Plnios. It is a beautiful route, through some of the finest scenery in all Greece. There is a profusion of green dotted with ivy plants, rhododendrons and plane trees. The bubbling springs in the vicinity were once dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite. In the Valle of Tempi there was a famous Temple dedicated to the god Apollo, older than that of Delphi.
Casting its shadow over this idyllic setting is the medieval Castle of Orias, perched on the top of a high rocky hill.
The road continues through the lush green valley of Platamon which marks the entrance to Macedonia and Northern Greece
- AMBELAKIA. Just before the toll post for the Tempi pass a side road leads to Ambelakia, a beautiful village, where in 1788 was founded the first internationally known cooperative between capital and labour.
- City of Volos. Volos is a pleasant provincial town at the head of the Gulf of Pagassae (Pagassitikos). It has two main interests. On the one hand, it is a thriving industrial centre and a commercial port, especially concerned with fruit, and on the other, it is a popular holiday resort with safe bathing and excellent facilities for entertainment and relaxation.
Volos museum is exceptionally rich in exhibits, some of which are considered unique. The tombstones are not only of great artistic value but also serve as historical “documents”. They are rectangular pieces of marble with pediments as was usual in antiquity. Of these, twenty have preserved their paintings almost intact.
The main streets of Volos all bear names of Pelion’s proud past – Jason, lolkos, Demetrias. The waterfront is aptly called the quay of the Argonauts. It is here that the town’s modern hotels and seafront cafés are situated.
Mount Pelion is the celebrated, densely forested abode of the ancient Greek gods and heroes, and the scene of many colourful and dramatic adventures in Greek mythology. Here, Eris set the Golden Apple of Discord rolling at the wedding feast of Peleus. Jason set out with the Argonauts in quest of the Golden Fleece, and the Titans made a futile attempt to pile Pelion on Ossa.
Mout Pelion’s 24 picturesque villages nestle on the slopes of the mountain, among chestnut trees, olive groves, peach, qpple, and pear orchards. A wellsurfaced road follows the coast for some distance before veering inland to begin its steep climb. The distinctive architecture of Pelion’s houses is unique: tall buildings with iron doors and small wrought- iron windows on the ground floor. They cling to the mountain side, three-storied in front and single-storied at the back, which is level with the road or pathway.
From its highest peak, called Pourianos Stavros, rising to a height of 1,651 metres, down to its last straggling foothills at Trikeri, Pelion is lush and green.
Starting from Volos and travelling either northwards or eastwards it is an ideal way to see some of Pelion’s best known villages, beaches, and beauty spots, among them Ano Volos, Portaria, Makrynitsa, Hanla, Zagora, Tsangarada, Milopotamos beach, Milies, Argalastl, Trikeri, Vyzltsa, Afissos, Kala Nera, Aghlos loannls, Klssos, Chorefto.
- Sporades Islands.