Larissa - The capital of Thessaly

Modern Greek LÁRISA, town, capital of the nomós (department) of Lárisa and the chief town of Thessaly (Thessalía), Greece, on the Piniós Potamós (river). Since the 9th century it has been the seat of a bishop.

In antiquity Larissa was the seat of the Aleuad clan, founded by Aleuas, who claimed descent from Heracles. The poet Pindar and the physician Hippocrates, attracted by the Aleuad court, died there. In 480 BC the Aleuads supported the Persians. During the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC), they supported Athens; thereafter the city was weakened by civil strife. In 357 BC the last Aleuads called in Philip II of Macedonia against the tyrants of Pherae, and from 344 to 196 Larissa remained under Macedonia. Rome then made it capital of the reorganized Thessalian League.

The emperor Justinian fortified the city, whose name means Citadel, but in AD 985 it fell to the Bulgars, and in 1204 it was occupied by the Franks of the Fourth Crusade. It was conquered by the Serbs in 1348 and in 1393 by the Turks, who held it until 1881, when Thessaly was annexed to the kingdom of Greece, beginning an exodus of Turkish residents, all of whom had left by the 1920s. In 1941 Larissa was devastated by an earthquake, and it also suffered considerably during the German occupation (1941-44).

The centre of Thessaly's thriving agricultural economy, Larissa is in the midst of the Thessaly plain. The city produces high-quality ouzo (anise liqueur) and silk cloth; it has direct rail links to Vólos and Athens and airport facilities. In the 1960s there was some industrial development, and there are large factories to manufacture sugar from locally grown sugar beet, as well as a paper-pulp plant. Pop. (1981) city, 102,426; nomós, 254,295.

According to archaeological evidence, the capital of Thessaly lies atop a site that has been inhabited since the tenth millennium before Christ.

A major commercial and industrial centre, Larissa sits in the middle of the plain of Thessaly, a few kilometres off the AthensThessaloniki National Road. Tradition has it that Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, died here. Worth seeing are the mediaeval fortress, Alcazar Park and the ancient theatre. Not to be missed are the Archaeological Museum with its rich exhibits of palaeolithic and archaic artifacts and the Art Gallery, with its admirable collection of fine paintings.

The Pinios River flowing through the town and the old mansions with their spacious courtyards and luxuriant gardens give Larissa a charm all its own.

According to archaeological evidence, the capital of Thessaly lies atop a site that has been inhabited since the tenth millennium before Christ.

Other places worth seeing in the Prefecture of Larissa are the enchanting emerald valley of Agia, idyllic Stomio with its bottomless springs and Agiokambos and its enormous beach. The latter two localities are ideal summer holiday spots

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Vassilis Boussios
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