Volos (326 km. from Athens, 215 km. from Thessaloniki) is the capital
and economic centre of the prefecture. Thanks to its privileged position
at the foot of Mt. Pelion on the Pagasitic gulf, it is a good base for enjoying
the sea, wooded slopes, and green valleys that surround it. As for the derivation
of the word "Volos", which according to a Byzantine historian
of the 14th century was called "Golos", there are several theories;
the most widely accepted is that it represents a corruption of the Mycenaean
Iolkos. Founded in the mid 19th century, modern Volos, with 71,000 inhabitants,
is a cheerful , lively town, soundly laid out with pleasant broad streets.
The waterfront is an ideal spot for a stroll. A modern coastal avenue bustling
with life, it is lined with pastry shops, cafes and restaurants. From the
suburb of Ano Volos, built upon the slopes of Pelion, the Pagasitic gulf
and the town below take on another dimension. Volos harbour is particularly
active. It is the main export centre of Thessaly and the scene of much commercial
and passenger traffic bound for the Sporades, the great ports of the Mediterranean,
Syria, and other Middle Eastern cities.
The Volos Archaelogical Museum (tel.: (0421)28.563): contains a rich
store of finds from the Bronze Age, pottery of the 8th and 5th century BC,
and 6th and 5th century sculpture. For example, its collection of Hellenistic
grave stelai from Dimitrias is unique; their well preserved paintings are
considered among the most important examples of ancient Greek art. Municipal
Gallery (tel.:(0421) 25.760): Housed in the Town Hall, it comprises a fine
collection of paintings, sculpture, and engravings by modern Greek artists.
Home of the folk historian Kitsos Makris (tel.:(0421) 23.778) with works
by Theophilos, Christopoulos, Byzantine icons, wood carvings and pottery.
Pelion old fashioned train: This little train which used to connect Volos
with Milies has been put back into service over a short portion of the old
urban line. It would be running on special occasions. The churches of Agios
Konstantinos, Agios Nikolaos, Metamorphosis and the chapel of Agia Triada.
At Anakasia, the Theophilos Museum with frescoes by the great folk artist.
At Alli Meria, the Velentza bakery with wall paintings by Theophilos.
The lush area around Volos is scattered with interesting archaeological
sites which history buffs will find very rewarding, while the summer resorts
bordering beautiful beaches abound in picturesque tavernas offering local
delicacies. The azure sea is ideal for bathing.
West of Volos
Taking the Volos - Larissa National Road, a small detour will lead you
to one or more of the various archaelogical sites in the vicinity: the prehistoric
settlement of Dimini (6.5 km) with a ruined acropolis, walls and two beehive
tombs dated between 4000 - 1200 BC; Sesklo (13.5 km) with the remains of
the oldest acropolis in Greece (6000 BC), as well as the foundations of
a palace and mansions among the most typical examples of neolithic civilisation.
A bit further to the west lies the village of Velestino (17 km) birthpace
of the revolutionary poet Rigas Ferraios, built on the site of the ancient
city of Pherai.
Southwest of Volos
Near the coast road heading southwest of Volos, you will spot a pine wooded
area containing the ruins of ancient Dimitrias (4 km), the important city
founded by Dimitris Poliorkitis in the 3rd century BC. In this particularly
extensive archaelogical site there are ruins of a temple, palace, and theatre
with incomparable acoustics. Portions of the city circuit wall can be
seen on a hill to the right of the road. The famous grave stelai adorning
the Archaeological Museum in Volos were discovered in the towers still standing
on the acropolis. A little to the east, at Pefkakia, are the scant remains
of a Mycenaean settlement identified as the Homeric city of Neleia. The
road then passes by Nees Pagases (5 km), today a summer resort with good
facilities for tourists built on the site of ancient Pagasai, an eminent
commercial centre of the 5th century BC, and port of ancient Pherai. Maratho
(13 km) and Chrysi Akti (15 km) further south are renowned for their crystalline
waters and the fresh fish served in their tavernas. The main road continues
along the shore, passing Nea Anhialo (18 km), a pleasant market town built
in a fertile region in a position formerly occupied by Ancient Pyrrasos,
which together with the neighbouring city of Phthiotic Thebes was the most
important commercial centre on the Pagasitic gulf. Its little museum contains
neolithic and early Christian finds. Continuing on you come to Mikrothives
(25 km) which took its name from Pthiotic Thebes. There are ruins of the
old city - walls, temple, theatre and a stoa - on the nearby hill. At Almiros
(35 km), the centre for animal husbandry and farming in the area, you can
visit the Archaelogical Museum, while the Kouri park, the ruins of Ancient
Alos and the monastery of the Panagia Xenia at Orthris are other sites in
the vicinity worth investigating. The seaside village of Amaliapolis (57
km) near Cape Almiros is a very popular holiday spot. One of the largest
villages in the Almiros area is Sourpi, surrounded by bountiful olive groves.
Its taverns serve delicious "kokoretsi", a treat made of liver
and lights, spit-roasted on glowing coals. As you proceed along the coast
road, which cuts through the southern section of Magnesia past extraordinarily
picturesque scenery, it is worth stopping at Pteleos (60 km), a historic
village with more olive groves, and at its port, Pigadi, a quiet fishing
hamlet with sparkling waters and an abundance of fresh fish; at Ahilio (67
km) , an idyllic bay with a long beach, and an ideal sanctuary from the
August heat; and Agios Dimitrios, a village on the Malliac gulf bordered
by golden beaches. Finally the village of Kanalia (26 km) surrounded by
almond trees is well worth a visit. Every March there is an almond bossom
festival. Here also there is a thriving bronze handicraft industry.