Karditsa, the city of bicycles!

Karditsa is a city in Thessaly, the capital of the homonymous Regional Unit (formerly the Prefecture of Karditsa, and earlier Thessaliotida), and the seat of the Municipality of Karditsa and the Holy Metropolis of Thessaliotida and Phanariophersala.

It is located at the western edge of the Thessalian plain. It is known for its many traditional stone mansions, squares, and pedestrian streets. Situated 10km from the foothills of Mount Pindus and at an altitude of 110m, it is built next to a tributary of the Peneus River. Its geographical location, in the heart of mainland Greece, perhaps gave it its name.

According to the 2011 census, the Municipal Unit of Karditsa had a population of 44,002 permanent residents, while the city of Karditsa had 38,554 residents.

It is located in the Thessalian plain. The earliest reliable information about the existence of Karditsa dates back to the 15th century and comes from Ottoman administrative sources. The name "Karditsa" is considered by one version to be a corruption of the Slavic word "Gradista," which means "fortified place," although no fortifications are historically located in the area. According to another and more prevalent version, the name of the city comes from the word "karydia - karyditsa," which, in the Thessalian pronunciation, became "Karditsa." The settlement is said to have replaced the neighboring Metropolis, an important city to the southwest, which was destroyed during the Slavic invasions of Thessaly (6th-8th centuries). The lack of Byzantine sources does not allow us to draw safe conclusions about the fate or even the existence of Karditsa during this time. The city, which ranks 24th in terms of population among Greek cities, is known for its excellent urban planning, as it is situated on a plain, with many pedestrian streets and the first network of bicycle lanes. At the heart of the city is the beautiful Pausilypon Park, with its free-roaming deer, and at its edge stands the magnificent Metropolitan Church of the Holy Emperors Constantine and Helen. In the western part of the park, the equestrian statue of Nikolaos Plastiras has been erected. Near the city, there is also the Paparantzas Forest (A Thousand Trees), where the chapel of Prophet Elias and the Hydration Museum are located.
If you are a cycling enthusiast, the municipality of Karditsa's shared bicycle system will serve you well. The city of Karditsa, also known as the 'Amsterdam of Greece,' has one of the most modern automated bicycle rental systems in Greece. The system is available to everyone, permanent residents and visitors alike. By using the easybike electronic card or a credit card, anyone can pick up a bicycle in a matter of seconds and use it for as long as they wish, returning it later to any of the rental stations.

To the west, at the end of the city's main pedestrian street, you will find the neoclassical Arné Hotel, built by a French architect in 1920, featuring a domed turret.

According to other sources, the hotel was built in 1921 by the politician Konstantinos Tertipis. Valvi Street, which leads to the market, is the only street in the city that retains the color of old Karditsa.

It was named in honor of Prime Minister Zinovios Valvis (1800-1872).

In a central location in the city, next to Plastira Square, you can find the Pausilypon Park, whose name derives from the fact that a walk in it leads to a 'pause from sorrow'.

The then Mayor Vaios Tzellas, through coordinated efforts, succeeded in obtaining a donation from the Mayor of Athens, General Pausanias Katsotas, of four statues (three Muses and one Charis) that you can observe in the central square: Thalia, Aglaia, Erato, and Clio. These statues were relocated and placed on stone pedestals on the left side of Pausilypon Park.

Next to the park, you will find the Metropolitan Church of Saint Constantine, which dates back to the 19th century (one of the largest in Greece). It is adorned with frescoes by the renowned Karditsiot painter Dimitrios Yoldasi.

Inside the church, there hangs the 'missed German bomb,' which miraculously never exploded, protecting the beautiful dome of the church. Within the church, there is an ornate iconostasis dedicated to Saint Seraphim (Bishop of Fanari and Neochorion), who is also the patron saint.

To the north of the cathedral, at a short distance, the Church of Zoodochos Pigi (in the Kaminares area) is of particular interest, dating back to 1842, as indicated by an inscription on the wood-carved iconostasis.

At the end of the central pedestrian street, leaving Pausilypon, you'll find the central square, characterized by the building of the Bank of Greece, the old 'Pallas,' an exceptional neoclassical structure constructed in the late 19th century. It initially operated as the city's first hotel under the name 'Beautiful Hellas' and later as a cinema.

A point of reference is the 'Sindrivani,' a recent gem in the square (by sculptor Nella Gkolanta), depicting constellations at its edges, representing every point on the horizon.


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