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In the footsteps of History

The journey to ancient chronicles & the legacy of modernity

The landscape, the buildings that comprise the architectural heritage, the gastronomic customs and activities of the inhabitants are the elements that shape the “identity” and give the mark of a place.

The cultural heritage and culture of Thessaly are encountered in the traditions, language, archaeological monuments, museums, cultural activities, and arts as well as in the revival of traditional professions belonging to the primary sector. The customs and practices of our place are being revived today through alternative forms of tourism and they attract the interest of visitors through participation in a variety of activities.

Thessaly is a society that is cultural, with a palette comprised of civilization, history and mythology, its most important landmarks being: Mt Olympus, the mountain of the Gods; Pelion, home of the legendary Centaurs; the town of Volos from where Jason set out in the Argo on the quest of the Argonauts; the rocks of Meteora with the monastic polity at their peaks; the cave of Theopetra and the archaeological sights of Sesklo and Dimini in Magnesia, which take us back to the stone age.

The fine archaeological and folklore museums of Volos, Larissa, Karditsa, Trikala and the surrounding regions are “treasuries” of this unique cultural heritage, leading the visitor on a magical journey through memory. In the archaeological finds, man sees his past, sees the points that led to “now” and listens to ancestral sorrows, pains and joy. In each corner, and from one end of Thessaly to the other, there is a legend, a history, a myth, a tradition that awaits to be discovered.

“In all the world, the best land is the Thessalian”

(Prophecy of the oracle of Delphi)

The River Pineios was the basis of all the elements that relate to the history, culture, economy and development of the life of the people of Thessaly. It is the reason why the earliest remains of a human presence, already from the Neolithic period, are always to be found near the banks of the river. A little further away, archaeological excavations are bringing to light the traces of a human presence in what is today the visitable part of Theopetra cave, next to Meteora, where, amongst the other superb finds, are the prints of the feet of children aged 7-8 years old, who lived in the cave over 130,000 years ago!

After the ice melted in the 10th millennium BC, the creation of an environment friendly to humans contributed to the transition from hunting and gathering to the agricultural economy of the Neolithic civilization. The boundless Thessalian plain, which irrigates the Pineios and its tributaries and is surrounded by high mountains, was from early on an ideal space for these fine settlements to develop in. In the Middle and Late Neolithic, during the sixth and fifth millennium BC, we begin to find organize settlements, the best-known being those at Sesklo and Dimini in the vicinity of Volos, from which most of our evidence on how this area was organized comes. Their inhabitants adopted pastoral farming and animal husbandry from the beginning and lived permanently in houses with stone foundations and a clay structure, and in places that were divided between work and production.

A visit to the Neolithic settlements will captivate you!

Historical Legacy of Thessaly

Past forward Experience

Historical Monuments - relics - cultural heritage - ethos

A thousand years of history, traditions and arts

During the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age (ca. 3200 BC – ca. 1100 BC), when man learnt how to mine metal, specifically bronze, the foundation of new, small and medium-sized settlements can be observed in Thessaly, as can the development of settlements around the older Neolithic sites. We can thus see that settlements grew in eastern coastal Thessaly, around the Pagasetic gulf,

where there were large or small natural harbors, which also had sources of water. Another very important settlement of the Mycenaean era, namely from the end of the Bronze Age, is ancient Iolcos, from where the Argonauts set off on their quest and which is located in the vicinity of Volos. It is definitely worth taking a tour of these parts, where Mycenaean civilization once flourished!

From the 7th century BC we can see the extensive presence of organized cities over the whole geographical area of the Thessalian plain. These autonomous Thessalian cities were the “seats” of the aristocratic Thessalian families that possessed large areas of land and military forces, arranged around the famous Thessalian cavalry.

Local athletics competitions were held, bonds of friendship and relationships were formed with similar families outside of Thessaly, and they became known in the large Pan-Hellenic religious centers. In the late 6th century BC, the administrative organization of the geographical space of the main part of Thessaly was divided into four districts - the “tetrads” of Pelasgiotis, Thessaliotis, Hestiaiotis and Phthiotis - which formed the core of the political and military organization of Thessaly over the next centuries, and which were administrated by the aristocratic families of the era.

During times of war, they would unite their forces and elect one of the four rulers as their leader. In the 4th century BC, the Macedonians, led by Philip II, came to Thessaly and gradually spread their control over the region. In the late 3rd century BC, the Macedonian Demetrius Poliorcetes founded a fine city at the inlet of the Pagasetic gulf, Demetriada, which is today in ruins. It is definitely worth visiting, however, as it is located at a beautiful coastal spot near Volos. Throughout almost the whole of the 3rd century BC, Thessaly remained under Macedonian rule, connected directly to the Macedonian throne. The Romans appeared as the saviors of the Greeks from Macedonian rule and in 197 BC, at the battle of Cynoscephalae, which was to be fateful for Philip V and the rest of the Greeks, they established their power over the sprawling Greek state and, consequently, over Thessaly. Christianity spread throughout Thessaly from the 1st century AD, first at Hypati, and with Herodion, one of the 70 apostles, as the herald.

Despite the wars and the natural disasters, unique monuments of Byzantine architecture art and iconography are preserved in Thessaly, such as the church of Porta-Panagia at the Trikala Gate, the monastery of Panagia Olympiotissa at Elassona and much more. Thessaly is also an ideal place for someone who is intrigued by Byzantine architecture. Thessaly, however, was not to be placated even later. The Ottomans appeared in the region in the late 14th century, when Sultan Bayezid came here. It was fully captured by Murad II in 1423. After many bloody centuries, Thessaly was annexed to Greece in 1881. Following its liberation, the region developed economically, demographically and culturally. Thessaly’s contribution to the resistance against the German occupation of 1941-1944 was significant, and for this reason it was treated particularly harshly during the war.

Brice Lahaye:

“I discovered a completely different Greece”

he opportunity also to learn more about this legendary Greek region: Jason and the Argonauts, the Centaurs, Zeus and the gods of Olympus ...

The more popular cultural highlights in Thessaly

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