Thessaly

Central Greece

It is one of the 13 peripheries of Greece, lying in the central continental country and bordering Macedonia on the north, Epirus on the west, Sterea Hellas, or Central Greece on the south and the Aegean Sea on the east. Its geography consists of a ring of mountains embracing an extended central plain, which, thanks to the summer rains, is so fertile, that Thessaly is often called the breadbasket of Greece. The region is divided into four prefectures.

“They say that these were the tribes collected by Amphiktyon himself in the Greek Assembly: ... the Macedonians joined and the entire Phocian race ... In my day there were thirty members: six each from Nikopolis, Macedonia and Thessaly...”

It has a higher percentage of flat land than any other part of the country. The mountains Pindos, Othrys, Ossa, and Agrafa surround the entire plain. Among them, Pinios river flows draining into the Aegean Sea after passing through the area of Tempi. This part was the home of ancient gods and Centaurs

Thessaly was a rich country and a major supplier of horses to Athens and other parts of Greece, governed by a few noble families owning most of the land and controlling the cities, especially Larissa, Crannon, Pheres, and Pharsalus.

During the 5th and 4rth century B. C. Thessaly was a “federal” state that could, in time of war at least, be placed under the supreme leadership of a commander in chief called Tagos. It was divided into four major regions, Hestiaotis in the northwest, Pelasgiotis in the northeast, Thessaliotis in the southwest, and Phthiotis in the southeast, however, it is not clear enough how united they were.

People in the regions surrounding Thessaly, such as Dolopes from the Pindos range, Magnetes from Magnesia, Achzans from Phthiotis were at times subjected to a tribute by Thessalian kings (Xenophon’s Hellenica, VI, I, 19).

Larissa

The prefecture of Larissa is mainly agricultural. The namesake capital city of Larissa is the biggest in the periphery and lies in the middle of the plain of Thessaly.

The county of Larissa is located in the northeast of Thessaly and is the biggest county in Greece, covering roughly 10,000 km.

It is made up of the districts of Agia, Elassona, Turnavos, Farsala, and Larissa, which is also the capital of the county. This county covers 38% of the total area of Thessaly and contains 37% of the population. Mount Olympus (2,917m), the highest peak not only of Greece but also of the Balkans, is located here and stands at the border with the county of Pieria.

The huge plain of Larissa is characteristic of the county. The main river of the area is the Pineio, which flows between Mount Olympus and Mount Ossa (Kissavos) and through the Temby valley. The aforementioned valley, as well as the villages around Olympus, are the best-known tourist attractions in this county.

During the years of the Turkish occupation, the county experienced a financial boom due to the developed industries here. Signs of past prosperity still exist in the form of the churches of the 16th and 17th centuries.

There is an abundance of wonderful locations for outings both summer and winter and one can visit areas praised for their greenery and crystal clear waters. The northern and eastern coastlines are ideal for relaxing summer holidays spent on the clean sandy beaches. Of course, there are a variety of alternative types of holidays available too, as the county offers the best possible combination of sea and mountains.

Magnesia

The city of Volos is the capital of the prefecture of Magnesia. It is a beautiful city by a big bay, with a wonderful seafront promenade, lined with tavernas and bars serving ‘tsipouro’, a strong local spirit. In the same prefecture, Pilion, the mythical mountain of the Centaurs, is one of the most beautiful places in Greece, combining the forest-covered landscape of the mountain with the fabulous beaches at its foot. In this unique setting, where picturesque traditional stone-built villages are nestled into the woods, amidst springs and tiny waterfalls, one can enjoy an ideal winter vacation (there is also a ski center), then as the green mountain dives into the turquoise and emerald waters of the sea, the visitor is bound to live unforgettable summer experiences.

This county borders the county of Larissa on the northwest, Fthiotida on the southwest, touches the Agean on the east, and the Pagasitiko gulf on the south.

The summer residence of the gods on the mythical mountain of the Centaurs, in Pelion, is located in this county. Volos and the county of Magnesia as a whole are generally considered to be one of the most attractive areas in Greece.

The snowcovered mountains of Makrinitsa and Tsagarda are the ideal starting point for winter expeditions. The county also offers unforgettable spring or autumn outings exploring the wonders of nature and beautiful summer holidays relaxing on the sandy beaches located here.

As well as the natural beauty of the area, this county offers a wealth of archaeological sites and treasures that attract visitors all year long.

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Karditsa

In the prefecture of Karditsa, upon a mountain plateau, the Lake of Plastira is a landscape of spectacular scenery, where nature lovers will rejoice, and a place ideal for long walking, hiking, or biking around the serene highland lake reminiscent of a Scandinavian landscape.

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Trikala

The prefecture of Trikala boasts numerous little picturesque settlements nestled in its wooded mountainsides. Elati and Pertouli are the most beautiful, the latter near a ski center, with a variety of traditional guest houses where one can relish the local hospitality and cuisine. The region also offers excellent hiking and trekking routes.

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Kalampaka

The most important monastic group in Greece after Mount Athos is found in the prefecture of Trikala, 9 km from the town of Kalampaka. The beauty of this monument is out of this world, as a formation of giant rocks, called the Meteora, are towering over the ground like isolated castles, on top of which perched are Byzantine orthodox monasteries. Of the six that are rescued to the present day, some are dating to the 11th century. Their historical religious treasures are invaluable, as is the contribution of their monks to the artistic production of the byzantine and post-byzantine times.

The island with the abundance of color from the wildflowers and the forests, the mountain springs, and the deep gorges with waterfalls.

Evia is the third largest island in the Eastern Mediterranean and at the same time, it is connected to the mainland with two bridges.

It is easy to reach Evia – 80 Kms from Athens – in a short time by boat from the port of Oropos on the north coast of Attica to Halkida town, or from Rafina port on the east coast of Attica to Marmari, or by car arriving at the town of Halkida through the bridge.

On the north of the island and at the cape Artemisio in 1928 fishermen brought out of the depth of the sea two precious statues, decorating now the archaeological museum of Athens.

Halkida, the capital of the island, is a modern town with traditional two-story houses and modern buildings.

Starting from this town and traveling south you will reach the villages of Nea Lampsakos, Vassiliko, Malaconda, Eretria, with the ruins of the ancient theatre and the archaeological museum, and Amarinthos.

On the southwest coast, the town of Karystos offers an unspoiled environment, clean sandy beaches, archaeological sites, and authentic Greek dishes.

The legendary Karystos, son of the centaur Chiron, gave his name to this town according to the Greek Mythology. Karystians were the first Greeks to stand up to the Persians and suffered greatly.

They were at the peak of prosperity during the Hellenistic and Roman periods having their civic center at Chora.

Franks built the Fort Bourtzi and the Castello Rosso, which became the habitation center during the Turkish period.

The modern town was designed by the Bavarian architect Bierbach under the commission of the first king of Greece, Otho.

ALONISSOS

Over the centuries the island has been called by many different names like Ikos, Evonymos, Liodromia, Hilliodromia, but very little has changed.

It is a stopping place on the sea routes from the North Aegean to Crete since the 9th millennium BC.

Renowned for the wine and vineyards since ancient times, the island has preserved a harmony between production and development.

Today the natural cycle of a local economy based on ecologically friendly fishing, farming, and stock-raising help keep the environment untouched from the development.

This island provides shelter at the Alonissos Marina Park for one of the rarest mammals of the Mediterranean Sea, the “Monachus Monachus”, classified as one of the endangered spices.

Worth watching is the revival of the traditional “trata” on the last Sunday of the carnival, which starts the beginning of spring and continues with the local festivals on St. George’s day.

There are beautiful beaches like Gialia, Tsoucalia, Megali Ammos, and Agallou Laka, which can be reached by small boats, cars, or on foot offering a variety of choices.

A perfect spot for a relaxing holiday, this place has something for every taste, in the natural environment that its people have so carefully preserved and exploited.

Skiathos is an island of Sporades, which was an isolated agrarian one until the early 1970s. Today it is one of the most cosmopolitan islands in Greece.

The main attraction is the purity of the water and the lovely fine sand beaches. It boasts of having more than 60, the most famous of which, Koukounaries, is considered one of the very best in Greece. A few more beaches are Megali Ammos, Kanapitsa, Agia Paraskevi, and Platanias.

Skiathos town is the capital of the island. It is a relatively modern town built-in 1930 on two low lying hills, then reconstructed after a heavy German bombardment during the second world war.

In the town, off the main street, you will find the House of Papadiamantis, a famous Greek author, who presented in his books, the life of the island and the Greek customs.

At a small distance, there is the pretty 17th-century monastery of Kounistria with beautiful icons.

SKIROS

It is easy to reach this island by boat from the port of Kimi in Evia, in two hours.

According to Greek Mythology, this is the island where the goddess Thetis, Achillea’s mother, decided to hide her son dressing him as a woman and give him the name Pyrrha (blond), since she found out that he would be killed at the Trojan War. But he was not lucky because the Greeks sent Odysseus to bring him back and ask him to become the leader of the War.

The island according to archaeological finds has been of great importance. So far excavations have shown that traces of life existed on the island during the Neolithic period (6000-2900 BC) and the developments took place especially during the Bronze Age.

The north part of the island is green, full of pine trees and cultivations, where the south appears to be the opposite, however perfect for goats, sheep and for the Skirian small horse, which is just 1 m tall and has no relation to the pony of North Europe. This horse is found carved in the Panathinea procession and in the excavations of Marathon and Vergina.

Sandy and pebble beaches are spread around the island. At the same time, the pine trees on the mountains of Olympos and Kohilas offer a relaxing atmosphere.

On the island, there are almost 300 churches, but the most important of all is the one of St.George, the patron Saint of this island, built-in 906 by Nikiforos Fokas and Ioannis Tsimiskis, on the highest point of the island.

SKOPELOS

Skopelos is the neighbor of Skiathos island, where you arrive by boat or hydrofoil at the ports of Glossa, Loutraki or Skopelos.

A lot of beautiful and pretty beaches are spread around. The capital of the island is Skopelos town or Hora with its port, one of the most beautiful ports in Greece. The town is one of Greece’s greatest architectural treasures, on a par with Hydra and Symi, with 123 churches and a Venetian castle built over an archaic temple of Athena. A visit to the Folk Art Museum or the variety of galleries displaying local photos, ceramic, and jewelry is also important.

You may not miss the five monasteries on the south of the town, the Evangelistria, the fortified monastery of Agia Barbara, now abandoned, containing frescoes of the 15th century, Metamorphosis, Prodromou, and Taxiarchon.

The island is reached in vegetation and the interior is planted with fruit and nut orchards. Famous are the plums and the almonds of the island that are used a lot in local recipes.

TRIKALA

It has a population of about 140,000 people, the majority of whom are farmers. It is in the southwest of Thessaly and has borders with the counties of Grevena in the north, Ioannina and Arta in the west, Karditsa in the south, and Larissa in the east.

This is mostly a mountainous area, which attracts tourists all year round who come to admire the wonder of nature that is known as Meteora. Indeed, Meteora is almost indescribably beautiful. The sheer rocks and numerous monasteries are very impressive as are the services available in Kalambaka and Kastraki.

Skiing and mountain climbing are available for the more adventurous visitor and nature lovers. The county offers high mountains and rivers as well as plains, all co-existing in perfect harmony with each other.