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CITY OF VOLOS

The area where the city of Volos is situated was the ancient region of Magnesia, one of the oldest populated corners of the Ancient Helladic land. The first known pre-historic settlements go back to the 7th millennium BC. The area of Magnesia was named after Magnites, its inhabitants during the historical years. Magnites were part of the larger group of Tagoi, who lived in the area of Thessaly. Magnesia boasts natural beauty and is a tourist destination throughout the year. 198.500 people live in the area. Magnesia flourished during the neolithic era (e.g. the communities of Sesklo, Dimini, etc.) and only during the Mycenean era began to wane. During the 3rd century B.C. the community of Dimitriada was founded by Dimitrios the Conqueror. During the Byzantine era the communities of Dimitriada and Fthiotides Thibes (today's Nea Aghialos) were distinguished, while during the Turkish occupation the communities of Zagora, Makrinitsa, etc.

Volos, the capital of the area, is one of the most beautiful towns in Greece with excellent planning and beautiful buildings. After the earthquake in 1955 the town was rebuilt. Today's town coinsides with the ancient town of Iolkos, the starting point of the Argonaut expedition. Sight seeing includes traditional houses, the park in Anavros, the harbour, museums, the house of folk artist Kitsos Makris, etc.

MYTHOLOGY

The ancient region of Magnesia is the host of some of the most characteristic pages of Greek mythology. Magnus, the son of the king of wind, Aiolos, was settled in Pelion. The mountain was the home of the Centaurs, half-human, half-horse looking beasts, which were born from the elegiac union of Ixion and Nefele (Nebula). A famous Centaur was Chiron, who was instrumental in the marriage between Peleus and Thetis. During the wedding ceremony, due to a dispute over the 'Apple of Eris', the Trojan War began. Asclepius, the God of Medicine, as well as Achilles, the hero of Trojan War, were both students of the wise Centaur Chiron. The Argonaut expedition started also from Magnesia. According to the myth, when Jason is about to bring back the Golden Fleece, he asks for the company of the bravest men to join him in this amazing adventure. He then sends for his messengers to announce it to the world, and this is how the myth of the Argonaut expedition starts.The boat was constructed with the help of Goddess Athena. The shipbuilder was Argus, and so the ship was named after him, Argus meaning swift. The wood came from the pine trees of Mountain Pelion, and from the talking oak trees of Dodone, and as such the boat was endowed with the gift of speech.

ANCIENT TIMES

Magnesia flourished during the neolithic era. Forty Neolithic settlements, some of the most important ones in the Balkans, are situated in Magnesia. Some of them continued being active until 3000-1500 BC. The most important ones are Sesklo and Dimini, where many interesting finds include painted ceramics, bone and stone tools, and objects from Greek islands, such as Milos. Certain significant Mycenaean locations include the hill of Agioi Theodoroi, Palea, the oldest neighbourhood of Volos, and Pefkakia. During the same period, ancient Iolkos was founded, which was the most important economic and cultural centre of the time. According to recent archaeological investigation, the royal estate of Iolkos was situated at Dimini, where most of the agricultural activities took place. The sea fearing and trade handling was conducted from the port at Pefkakia. During the Classical period (C6th BC) Pagases, the seaport of Feres, flourished.

During the 3rd century B.C. (295-92 BC), the community of Dimitriada was founded by Dimitrius the Conqueror and named after him. Dimitriada turn out to be a powerful military station of the Macedonians, and a strong trading centre of the Hellenistic times, and especially between 217-168 BC. In 197 BC, the Romans occupied Dimitriada. The city was built according to the Hippodamian system and was surrounded by a fortified citadel. In the east side a palace was erected, the south was occupied by the agora, and a theatre was built in thewest. Important finds of the period are the Stele, the ancient tombstones decorated withwriting, giving us information on the economy, society and art of the time. During the Byzantine era the communities of Dimitriada and Fthiotides Thibes (today's Nea Aghialos) were distinguished.

TURKISH OCCUPATION

During the Turkish occupation financial and cultural activities took place in mountain Pelion, which was enjoying many privileges. Through the 18th century, Pelion evolved into one of the most significant centres of the Greek region, yet the entry of Christians inside the fort of Volos remained forbidden.

With the onset of the Greek war of independence, of 1821, the villages of Pelion revolted, and the liberating ships from the Greek island of Spetses besieged the fortification of Volos unsuccessfully. A little later, in 1830, the new city of Volos was built, outside the fort, though. Due to its geographical position, and its great port, the city was thriving and it was where the financial heart of the whole of Thessaly started beating. By 1881, after the Constantinople Convention, Volos and the wider Magnesian territory joined the recently liberated Greek state.

RECENT HISTORY

The expansion of Volos was fast. The artisan tradition cultivated within the villages of mountain Pelion, concurrently with the riches arriving, via the port, to the city from all around the world, improved commerce and industry. This attracted investors from other areas. The railway, which connects Volos to Larissa and Kalabaka, was completed by 1886. In 1895, a new railway line was made, linking Volos to Lechonia and eventually Milies (1904). In 1892 construction works started around the port, which continued past WW1, as trade grew. By 1919, the port of Volos was the biggest in the tobacco export business, covering 30% of the whole of Greece.

Fulfilling all the necessary requirements relating to investor capitals, manpower, expansive local market force, raw materials, Volos turn out to be a robust industrial city. The most lucrative businesses included metallurgy, tobacco, textiles, tannery and food supplies. Consequently, economic growth went hand in hand with cultural advancement. In 1894 the Municipal Theatre was founded, in 1896 the Gymnastic Club, and in 1908 the Municipal Girls' School was established under the great pedagogue A. Delmouzos. Moreover, the first workers guild in Greece was inaugurated.

WW2 caused a temporary halt in all advancements. However, after the war, Volos, Nea Ionia and the neighbouring districts developed a significant urban plan, but the disastrous earthquakes of 1955 permanently affected its initial aesthetic image.

The contemporary city of Volos, having learned from the lessons of the past, and utilising its full potential, has grown to be a very important commercial centre. The port of Volos is currently holding the third position in Greece, in terms of the exchange of people and goods. Tourism, trade, industry and the high standards of local services are currently the focus of its financial and social growth. At the same time, the operation of an innovative and modern university, in conjunction with a major artistic infrastructure, and a vibrant cultural scene, offers the public the opportunity to choose from a variety of edifying events, including theatrical productions, concerts and art exhibitions. Thus Volos is gradually turning into a business and cultural metropolis on the Greek, as well as on the European map.

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