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Thessaly (Greek: Θεσσαλία, ThessalíaThessalian: Petthalia) is one of the 13 peripheries of Greecemarker, and is further sub-divided into 4 prefectures. The capital of the periphery and traditional geographical region (and until 1987 official) is Larissamarker. Together with the regions of Macedoniamarker and Thrace, it is often referred to unofficially as Northern Greece. The periphery lies in central Greece and borders Macedonia on the north, Epirus on the west, Sterea Hellas or Central Greece on the south and the Aegean Seamarker on the east; it covers the same area as the Greek region of Thessaly from before the 1987 administrative reform. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey.


Thessaly was home to an extensive Neolithic culture around 2500 BC. Mycenaean settlements have also been discovered, for example at the sites of Iolcosmarker, Diminimarker and Sesklo (near Volosmarker). Later, in ancient Greek times, the lowlands of Thessaly became the home of baronial families, such as the Aleuadae of Larissamarker or the Scopads of Crannon. These baronial families organized a federation across the Thessaly region, later went on to control the Amphictyonic League in northern Greece. The Thessalians were renowned for their cavalry.

In the summer of 480 BC , the Persians invaded Thessaly. The Greek army that guarded the Vale of Tempemarker , evacuated the road before the enemy arrived. Not much later, Thessaly surrendered. The Thessalian family of Aleuadae joined the Persians. In the Peloponnesian War the Thessalians tended to side with Athens and usually prevented Spartan troops from crossing through their territory with the exception of the army of Brasidas. Jason of Pherae briefly transformed the country into a significant military power, though he was assassinated before any lasting achievements were made. In the 4th century BC Thessaly became dependent on Macedon and many served as vassals. In 148 BC the Romans formally incorporated Thessaly into the province of Macedonia, though in 300 AD Thessaly was made a separate province with its capital at Larissamarker.

It was part of the Byzantine Empire and suffered many invasions. In 977 it was occupied by the Bulgarians, who remained there until 1014. In 1204 he was assigned to Boniface of Montferrat and in 1225 to Theodore Komnenos Doukas, despot of Epirus. From 1271 to 1318 he was an independent despotate that extended to Acarnania and Aetolia, run by John III Angelos Komneno. In 1309 settled there the Almogavars or Catalan Company of the East (Societas Catalanorum Magna), which in 1310, after lifting the siege of Thessalonica, withdrew as mercenaries in the pay of the sebastocrátor John II, and took over the country organized in a democracy. From there went to the Duchy of Athens called by the duke Walter I. In 1318, with the extinction of the dynasty of Angelos, the Almogavars occupied Siderocastron and southern Thessaly (1319) and formed the duchy of Neopatria.

Later it was occupied by the Serbs until 1393, after being dominated by the Ottomans. In 1821 participated in the Greek War of Independence, but was not recognized as part of Greecemarker until 1881.


Thessaly occupies the east side of the Pindusmarker watershed, extending south of Macedonia to the Aegean Seamarker. The northern tier of Thessaly is defined by a generally southwest-northeast spur of the Pindus Range that includes Mt.marker Olympusmarker, close to the Macedonian border. Within that broken spur of mountains are several basins and river valleys. The easternmost extremity of the spur extends southeastward from Mt. Olympus along the Aegean coast, terminating in the Magnesiamarker Peninsula that envelops the Pagasetic Gulfmarker (also called the Gulf of Volos), and forms an inlet of the Aegean Sea. Thessaly's major river, the Piniosmarker, flows eastward from the central Pindus Range just south of the spur, emptying into the Gulf of Thermaikos.

The Trikalamarker and Larissamarker lowlands form a central plain which is surrounded by ring of mountains. It has a distinct summer and winter season, with summer rains augmenting the fertility of the plains. This has led to Thessaly occasionally being called the breadbasket of Greece.

The region is well delineated by topographical boundaries. The Chásiamarker and Kamvouniamarker mountains lie to the north, the mount Olympusmarker massif to the northeast. To the west lies the Pindus mountain range, to the southeast the coastal mountains of Óssamarker and Pelionmarker.

Several tributaries of the Pinios flow through the region.


According to the census conducted by ESYE in 2001, the population of the region of Thessaly is 753,888 and represents 6.9% of the total population of the country.

It has noted a 1.5% increase in the population since 1991 and remains the third largest region in the country population-wise, even though its growth rate is less than the national average for the period 1991-2001 (2.7% vs. 6.7%).

The population break-down is 44% urban, 40% agrarian and 16% semi-urban with the agrarian population having noted a decline which has been paralleled with an increase in the semi-urban.

The metropolitan area of Larissa, the capital of Thessaly, is home to more than 230,000 people, making it the biggest city of the periphery.

Major communities


The alluvial soils of the Piniosmarker Basin and its tributaries make Thessaly a vital agricultural area, particularly for the production of grain, cattle, and sheep. Modernization of agricultural practices in the mid-twentieth century has controlled the chronic flooding that had restricted agricultural expansion and diversification in the low-lying plains. Thessaly is the leading cattle-raising area of Greecemarker, and Vlach shepherds shift large flocks of sheep and goats seasonally between higher and lower elevations.

The nearly landlocked Gulf of Pagasaimarker provides a natural harbor at Volosmarker for shipping the agricultural products from the plains just to the west and chromium from the mountains of Thessaly.


There are a number of highways E75 and the main railway from Athensmarker to Thessalonikimarker (Salonika) crosses Thessaly.The region is directly linked to the rest of Europe through International Airport of Central Greecemarker located in Nea Anchialosmarker in a small distance from Volosmarker and Larisamarker. Until today charter flights links the region and brings tourists to the wider area, mainly in Pelionmarker and Meteoramarker. The new infrastructure includes a brand new terminal ready to serve 1500 passengers per hour and new airlanes.


Thessaly is divided into 4 prefectures:

In Mythology

In Homer's epic, the Odyssey, Odysseus visits the kingdom of Aeolus, and this is the old name for Thessaly.

The Plain of Thessaly, which lies between Mount Oetamarker/Othrys and Mount Olympusmarker, is the site of the battle between the Titans and the Olympians.

According to legend, Jason and the Argonauts launched their search for the Golden Fleece from the Magnesia Peninsula.

See also


  1. Π.Δ. 51/87 “Καθορισμός των Περιφερειών της Χώρας για το σχεδιασμό κ.λ.π. της Περιφερειακής Ανάπτυξης” (Determination of the Peripheries of the Country for the planning etc. of the development of the peripheries, Efimeris tis Kyverniseos ΦΕΚ A 26/06.03.1987

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