Greece – Fly to Larissa


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The cathedral of Saint Achillius of Larissa, the city's patron, as seen from Pineios river
The cathedral of Saint Achillius of Larissa, the city’s patron, as seen from Pineios river
Seal of Larissa
Coordinates 39°38.5′N 22°25′ECoordinates: 39°38.5′N 22°25′E
Country: Greece
Region: Thessaly
Regional unit: Larissa
Districts: 4+1
Mayor: Konstantinos Tzanakoulis  (ND)
(since: 1998)
Population statistics (as of 2011)
 - Population: 163,380
 - Area: 335.1 km2 (129 sq mi)
 - Density: 488 /km2 (1,263 /sq mi)
Municipal unit
 - Population: 146,195
 - Area: 122.6 km2 (47 sq mi)
 - Density: 1,192 /km2 (3,088 /sq mi)
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (center): 67 m (220 ft)
Postal: 41x xx
Telephone: 241
Auto: ??,??

Larissa (Greek: ????sa, ['larisa]) is the capital and biggest city of the Thessaly periphery 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 andAthens. Larissa’s population, within its municipality, has 163,380 inhabitants, while the peripheral unit of Larissa reached a population of 284,420 (in 2011).[1] The urban area of the city, although most of it contained within the Larissa municipality, also includes the communities ofGiannouli, Platykampos, Nikaia, Terpsithea and several other suburban settlements, which bring the wider urban area population of the city to about 220,000 inhabitants. According to archaeological evidence the city and its area has been inhabited since the tenth millennium BCE. Today, Larissa is a major commercial and industrial centre in Greece. Legend has it that Achilles was born here and Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, died here as well.


Mount Ossa viewed from Pineios river in Larissa.

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 Greece located in Nea Anchialos a short distance from Larissa.

Larissa lies on the river Pineios.

The Larissa Chasma, a deep gash in the surface of Dione, a natural satellite of Saturn, was named after Larissa.


The city is said in Greek mythology to have been founded by Acrisius, who was killed accidentally by his grandson, Perseus.[2] There livedPeleus, the hero beloved by the gods, and his son Achilles; however, the city is not mentioned by Homer, unless it should be identified withArgissa of the Iliad.[3]

In mythology, the nymph Larissa was a daughter of the primordial man Pelasgus.[4]



Traces of Paleolithic human settlement have been recovered from the area, but it was peripheral to areas of advanced culture.[5] The area around Larissa was extremely fruitful; it was agriculturally important and in antiquity was known for its horses.

The name Larissa,[6] inherited from the Pelasgian settlers— an alternative name for the district was Pelasgiotis— was common to many Pelasgian towns: the ancient Greek word larissa means “stronghold”.[7]

Larissa is thought to be where the famous Greek physician Hippocrates and the famous philosopher Gorgias of Leontini died.

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.

The ancient theatre of the city.

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 theAleuadae, 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 the strategos 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).[8]

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.

Inside the medieval fortress.

Middle Ages and Ottoman period

Gravure from Larissa c.1820.

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.[9] Under Ottoman rule, the city was known as Yeni-sehir i-Fenari, “new citadel”. As the chief town and military base of Ottoman Thessaly, Larissa was a predominantly Muslim city.[9] 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.[9] 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.[9]

On 6 March 1770, Aya Pasha massacred there 3000 Christians from Trikala.

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.[dubious – discuss] 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

The Municipal Gallery of Larissa.

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.

Ecclesiastical History

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[10] cites twenty-nine bishops from the fourth to the 18th centuries; the most famous is Jermias II, who occupied thePatriarch 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;[11] subsequently the number increased and about the year 1175 under the Emperor Manuel I Comnenus, it reached twenty-eight.[12] At the close of the 15th century, under the Turkish domination, there were only ten suffragan sees,[13] which gradually grew less and finally disappeared.

Larissa remains a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church.

Inside the Jewish synagogue of Larissa.


The municipality Larissa was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 3 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[14]

  • Giannouli
  • Koilada
  • Larissa


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 Terpsithèa (with the suburban community of Argyssa).

1st Mucicipal District (pop. 26,035)

  1. Papastàvrou
  2. Saint Athanàsios
  3. Alkazàr
  4. Hippocrates-Pèra
  5. Potamòpolis
  6. Philippòpolis
  7. Livadàki
  8. Saint Thomas
  9. Saint Paraskevi-Mezourlo
  10. Neàpolis

2nd Municipal District (pop. 41,816)

  1. Saint Achellios
  2. Saint Nikòlaos
  3. Ambelòkipoi
  4. Saints Sarànta
  5. Saint Konstantinos
  6. Stathmòs

3rd Municipal District (pop. 30,121)

  1. Lachanòkipoi
  2. Nèa Smyrne-Kamynia
  3. Kalyvia-Saint Marina
  4. Saint Geòrgios
  5. Anatoli
  6. Koulouri
  7. Amphithèa

4rh Municipal District (pop. 26,814)

  1. Charavgi-Toumba-OKE
  2. Pyrovolikà-Pharos
  3. Avèrof-Sèkfo
  4. Nèa Politia
  5. Epiròtika
  6. Anthoupolis
  7. Neràida
  8. Kàmpos

Community of Terpsithèa (pop. 1,290)

  1. Terpsithèa
  2. Argyssa

From 1 January 2011, in accordance with the Kallikratis plan (new administrative division of Greece), the new municipality of Larissa includes also the former mucipalities of Giannouli andKoilada.

Historical Population

  • 1889: 13,610 (city)
  • 1907: 18,001 (city)
  • 1907: 95,066 (prefecture)
  • 1991: 113,781 (city)
  • 1991: 277,973 (prefecture)
  • 2001: 126,076 (city)
  • 2001: 279,305 (prefecture)
  • 2011: 163,380 (new municipality)
  • 2011: 284,420 (prefecture)

Archaeological Sites

  • Ancient Theatre A’
  • Ancient Theatre B’
  • Fortress Hill & Ancient Agora


  • Municipal Gallery-G.I. Katsigras Museum
  • Historical & Folklore Museum
  • Archaeological Museum of Larissa
  • Veterinary Military Museum
  • Folklore Society of Larissa


Larissa sits in the middle of the plain of Thessaly, with connections to Motorway A1 and national roads EO3 and EO6.

  • Larissa’s Urban Bus System
  • Larissa’s Interurban System
  • Larissa Central Railway Station at 39°37’46?N 22°25’22.2?E
  • Mezourlo Freight Railway station at 39°37’08?N 22°24’30?E
  • Larissa Airport
  • Larissa Tram (planned)


Fans of AEL, major club of the city.

AEL FC Arena.

The local football club AEL 1964 FC currently participates in Super League Greece. The team became Greek Champion in 1988 and won the Greek Cup in 1985 & 2007. These titles place AEL in the 5 biggest football clubs of Greece. AEL holds its home games in the newbuild AEL FC Arena sice November 2010, an UEFA-3 star rated football ground. Other important sport venues are the National Sport Center of Larissa (EAK Larissas), which includes the Alcazar Stadium and the Neapoli Indoor Hall.

Notable people


An engraving of Hippocrates.

  • Achillius of Larissa (270–330), saint
  • Hippokrates of Kos (460 BC–370 BC), physician, died in Larissa
  • Larissa, mythological nymph from Thessaly
  • Medius (4th century BC), friend of Alexander the Great
  • Philinna (4th century BC), dancer, mother of Philip III Arrhidaeus
  • Philo (1st century BC), philosopher


  • Thanasis Papakonstantinou (1959-) poet,songwriter,singer,musician
  • Paraskevas Boubourakas (1972–) fashion model
  • Konstantinos Chalkias (1974–) footballer
  • Dimosthenis Dikoudis (1977–) basketball player
  • Petros Efthimiou (1950–) politician
  • Theofanis Gekas (1980–) footballer
  • Alexis Georgoulis (1974–) actor
  • Yannis Goumas (1975–) footballer
  • Kostas Gousgounis (1931–) porn actor
  • Fani Halkia (1979–) hurdler
  • M. Karagatsis (1908–1960) novelist, journalist
  • Vassilis Karapialis (1965–) footballer
  • Nestoras Kommatos (1977–) basketball player
  • Dimitris P. Kraniotis (1966–) poet & medical doctor
  • Lakis Lazopoulos actor, comedian, script author & director
  • Georgios Mitsibonas (1962–1997) footballer
  • Vaggelis Moras (1981–) footballer
  • Giorgakis Olympios (1772–1821) armatolos
  • George Seremetis (1879–1950) lawyer, mayor of Thessaloniki
  • Sotiris Skipis (1881–1952) poet
  • Georgios Souflias (1941–) politician
  • Dimitris Spanoulis (1979–) basketball player
  • Vassilis Spanoulis (1982–) basketball player
  • Athena Tacha (1936–) artist
  • Takis Tloupas (1920–2003) photographer
  • Achilleas Tzartzanos (1873–1946) linguist, philologist
  • Anna Vagena actress
  • Ekaterini Voggoli (1970–) discus thrower
  • Antonis Vratsanos (1919–2008) awarded “Senior Commander of the Order of Honor” for his action of resistance against foreign occupation troops in the years 1941–44
  • Eleni Zafeiriou (1916–2004), actress

Twin Towns — Sister Cities

Larissa is twinned with:

  • Moldova Balti, Moldova
  • Slovakia Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
  • United States Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
  • Bulgaria Stara Zagora, Bulgaria
  • Poland Rybnik, Poland, since 13 June 2003[15]
  • Turkey Ürgüp, Turkey
  • Turkey Denizli, Turkey

Also See

  • CERETETH, Center of Technology Thessaly
  • 2013 Mediterranean Games Larissa-Volos