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Larissa Ancient Greek City in Thessaly Northern Greece Authentic Coins
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Larissa Ancient Greek City
Greek city of Larissa in Thessaly under Macedonian
Larissa (Greek: Λάρισα, [ˈlarisa]) is the capital and biggest city of the Thessaly region of Greece and capital of the Larissa regional unit. It is a principal agricultural centre and a national transportation hub, linked by road and rail with the port of Volos, the city of Thessaloniki and Athens. Larissa, within its municipality, has 162,591 inhabitants, while the regional unit of Larissa reached a population of 284,325 (in 2011). The urban area of the city, although mostly contained within the Larissa municipality, also includes the communities of Giannouli, Platykampos, Nikaia, Terpsithea and several other suburban settlements, bringing the wider urban area population of the city to about 220,000 inhabitants. Today, Larissa is a major commercial and industrial centre in Greece. Legend has it that Achilles was born here, and that Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, died here.
There are a number of highways including E75 and the main railway from Athens to Thessaloniki (Salonika) crossing through Thessaly. The region is directly linked to the rest of Europe through the International Airport of Central Greecelocated in Nea Anchialos a short distance from Larissa. Larissa lies on the river Pineios.
The climate of Larissa is transitional. The winter is very cold and wet, and some snowstorms may occur. The summer is warm, and temperatures of 40 °C (104 °F) are usual and there is 15 times that maximum temperature exceeded 43.4 °C(110.1 °F) in the period 1955-2012. Thunderstorms or heavy rain may cause agricultural damage. The highest recorded temperature is 45.4 °C (113.7 °F) (July 2000) and the lowest recorded temperature is −21.6 °C (−6.9 °F)(January 1968). Larissa receives only 450 mm (18 in) of rain per year while Corfu, for example, receives 1,080 mm (43 in) of rain per year, because the mountais of Pindos create a rainshadow for the eastern coast of Greece.
According to Greek mythology it is said that the city was founded by Acrisius, who was killed accidentally by his grandson, Perseus. There lived Peleus, the hero beloved by the gods, and his son Achilles.
The city of Larissa is mentioned in Book II of Iliad by Homer:
Hippothous led the tribes of Pelasgian spearsmen, who dwelt in fertile Larissa- Hippothous,and Pylaeus of the race of Mars, two sons of the Pelasgian Lethus, son of Teutamus. http://classics.mit.edu/Homer/iliad.2.ii.html
In this paragraph, Homer shows that the Pelasgians, Trojan allies, used to live in the city of Larissa. It is contradictory because Larissa was also the birthplace of Achilles, the sworn enemy of Trojans.
Traces of Paleolithic human settlement have been recovered from the area, but it was peripheral to areas of advanced culture. The area around Larissa was extremely fruitful; it was agriculturally important and in antiquity was known for its horses.
The name Larissa (Λάρισα Lárīsa) is in origin a Pelasgian (pre-Greek) word for "fortress". There were many ancient Greek cities with this name. The name of Thessalian Larissa is first recorded in connection with the aristocratic Aleuadai family.
When Larissa ceased minting the federal coins it shared with other Thessalian towns and adopted its own coinage in the late 5th century BC, it chose local types for its coins. The obverse depicted the nymph of the local spring, Larissa, for whom the town was named; probably the choice was inspired by the famous coins of Kimon depicting the Syracusan nymph Arethusa. The reverse depicted a horse in various poses. The horse was an appropriate symbol of Thessaly, a land of plains, which was well known for its horses. Usually there is a male figure; he should perhaps be seen as the eponymous hero of the Thessalians, Thessalos, who is probably also to be identified on many of the earlier, federal coins of Thessaly.
Larissa, sometimes written Larisa on ancient coins and inscriptions, is near the site of the Homeric Argissa. It appears in early times, when Thessaly was mainly governed by a few aristocratic families, as an important city under the rule of the Aleuadae, whose authority extended over the whole district of Pelasgiotis. This powerful family possessed for many generations before 369 BC the privilege of furnishing the tagus, the local term for thestrategos of the combined Thessalian forces. The principal rivals of the Aleuadae were the Scopadac of Crannon, the remains of which are about 14 miles south west.
Larissa was indeed the birthplace of Meno, who thus became, along with Xenophon and a few others, one of the generals leading several thousands Greeks from various places, in the ill-fated expedition of 401 (retold in Xenophon's Anabasis) meant to help Cyrus the Younger, son of Darius II, king of Persia, overthrow his elder brother Artaxerxes II and take over the throne of Persia (Meno is featured in Plato's dialogue bearing his name, in which Socrates uses the example of "the way to Larissa" to help explain Meno the difference between true opinion and science (Meno, 97a–c) ; this "way to Larissa" might well be on the part of Socrates an attempt to call to Meno's mind a "way home", understood as the way toward one's true and "eternal" home reached only at death, that each man is supposed to seek in his life).
The constitution of the town was democratic, which explains why it sided with Athens in the Peloponnesian War. In the neighbourhood of Larissa was celebrated a festival which recalled the Roman Saturnalia, and at which the slaves were waited on by their masters. It was taken by the Thebans and afterwards by the Macedonian kings, and Demetrius Poliorcestes gained possession of it for a time, 302 BC.
Hellenistic and Roman era
It was in Larissa that Philip V of Macedon signed in 197 BC a treaty with the Romans after his defeat at Cynoscephalae, and it was there also that Antiochus III, the Great, won a great victory, 192 BC.
As the chief city of ancient Thessaly, Larissa was directly annexed by Philip II of Macedon in 344, and from then on Larissa was under Macedonian control; in 196 B.C. Larissa became an ally of Rome and was the headquarters of the Thessalian League.
Larissa is frequently mentioned in connection with the Roman civil wars which preceded the establishment of the empire and Pompey sought refuge there after the defeat of Pharsalus.
Middle Ages and Ottoman period
The town was taken from the Byzantine Empire by Bulgaria for a while in the later 10th century and later held by Serbia. It was Frankish until 1400.
It was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1386/87 and again in the 1390s, but only came under permanent Ottoman control in 1423, by Turahan Bey. Under Ottoman rule, the city was known as Yeni-şehir i-Fenari, "new citadel". As the chief town and military base of Ottoman Thessaly, Larissa was a predominantly Muslim city. The town was noted for its trade fair in the 17th and 18th centuries, while the seat of the pasha of Thessaly was also transferred there in 1770. The city remained in Ottoman hands until Thessaly became part of the independent Greek kingdom in 1881, except for a period where Ottoman forces re-occupied it during the Greco-Turkish War of 1897.
In the 19th century, there was a small village in the outskirts of town very unusually inhabited by Africans from the Sudan, a curious remnant of the forces collected by Ali Pasha. In the 19th century, the town produced leather, cotton, silk and tobacco. Fevers and agues were prevalent owing to bad drainage and the overflowing of the river; and the death-rate was higher than the birth rate. It was also renowned for the minarets of its mosques (four of which were still in use in the early part of the 20th century) and the Muslim burial grounds.
Modern Greek era
Larissa was the headquarters of Hursid Pasha during the Greek War of Independence. In 1881, the city, along with the rest of Thessaly, was incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece. A considerable portion of the Turkish population emigrated into the Ottoman Empire at that point. During the Greco-Turkish War of 1897, the city was the headquarters of Greek Crown Prince Constantine. The flight of the Greek army from here to Farsala took place on April 23, 1897. Turkish troops entered the city two days later. After a treaty for peace was signed, they withdrew and Larissa remained permanently in Greece. This was followed by a further exodus of Turks in 1898.
Christianity penetrated early to Larissa, though its first bishop is recorded only in 325 at the Council of Nicaea. St. Achillius of the 4th century, is celebrated for his miracles. Lequien cites twenty-nine bishops from the fourth to the 18th centuries; the most famous is Jermias II, who occupied the Patriarch of the West until 733, when the Emperor Leo III the Isaurian annexed it to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. In the first years of the 10th century it had ten suffragan sees; subsequently the number increased and about the year 1175 under the Emperor Manuel I Comnenus, it reached twenty-eight. At the close of the 15th century, under the Turkish domination, there were only ten suffragan sees, which gradually grew less and finally disappeared.
Larissa remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.
The municipality Larissa was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units:
The municipal unit of Larissa is divided into four city-districts or municipal communities (29 city areas) plus 2 suburban communities (Amphithea and Koulourion). The Municipality includes also the Community of Terpsithča (with the suburban community of Argyssa).
1st Mucicipal District (pop. 26,035)
2nd Municipal District (pop. 41,816)
3rd Municipal District (pop. 30,121)
4rh Municipal District (pop. 26,814)
Community of Terpsithča (pop. 1,290)
The province of Larissa (Greek: Επαρχία Λάρισας) was one of the provinces of the Larissa Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipalities Larissa (except the municipal unit Giannouli) and Tempi (except the municipal units Gonnoi and Kato Olympos). It was abolished in 2006.
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