Larissa is a city in Thessaly, the capital of the Larissa Municipality, and the capital of the Larissa Regional Unit. It also serves as the seat of the Thessaly Region and the Decentralized Administration of Thessaly - Sterea Ellada. It is an important commercial center and a hub for communication and transportation.
The city of Larissa has a population of 144,651 inhabitants and covers an area of approximately 19,000 acres. The permanent population of the Larissa Municipality, according to the 2011 census, is 162,591 inhabitants, making it one of the most populous municipalities in the country and the largest in the Thessalian geographic region.
The name Larissa is of pre-Hellenic Pelasgian origin and was widespread in the Greek territory, meaning a strongly fortified hill or acropolis. The same name was also used for the acropolis of Argos. According to mythology, the city of Larissa was founded during the Pelasgian period by the hero Larissos, the son of Pelasgus.
According to ancient myth, the nymph Larissa drowned in the waters of the Peneus River while playing with her ball, and the city was named after her. In mythology, Larissa was the wife of Poseidon and the mother of Achilles, Phthia, and Pelasgus, or according to another version, she was the daughter of Pelasgus.
Away from legends and traditions about the beautiful nymph, experts believe that the name of the city originated from elsewhere and was given as a euphemism, as the low hill of the Fortress does not match the meaning of the word "Larissa," which refers to a stone acropolis or fortress.
The city is situated in a Mediterranean location on both banks of the Peneus River and is located in the center of the eastern part of the Thessalian plain, which is almost entirely occupied by the Larissa Regional Unit, with a small part in the Magnesia Regional Unit.
The elevation of the city above sea level is 80 meters. The mountains that surround the city include: to the east, Mount Ossa (1,972 meters) and Mount Mavrovouni (1,054 meters); to the northeast, Mount Lower Olympus (1,587 meters) and Mount Olympus (2,918 meters); to the northwest, Mount Melouna and Mount Titanos (693 meters). There are no natural lakes in the wider Larissa area today.
Larissa is an ancient city that has been inhabited for almost 4,000 years. Archaeological research indicates that the Larissa region was inhabited during the Paleolithic period. The city was ruled by the Thessalian Aleuadae until the end of the Macedonian rule. During the Persian Wars, its inhabitants medized and fought against other Greeks alongside foreign invaders.
During the Peloponnesian War, they fought on the side of the Athenians. Larissa minted its own coins, and several ancient coins have been preserved. Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, lived and died in Larissa at the age of about ninety. He was buried somewhere between Gyrtone, Tyrnavos, and Larissa.
Like every city, Larissa has (at least) one important signature park filled with greenery.
The Alkazar Park has a history of over 100 years and serves as an oasis for the city's residents, featuring green spaces, fountains, promenades, playgrounds, an outdoor theater, sports fields, and more. Here, people can either relax or engage in various activities such as golf, soccer, and more.
Within the park, you'll find the Monument of the National Resistance of Filolaos Tloupas, while across from it, you can admire the Monument of Hippocrates. No matter what you do, the Peneus River will always accompany you.
Climbing the Hill from the central square (Dimarchou Sapka), you will encounter numerous monuments from the Early Christian, Byzantine, and Ottoman periods. There, you will also find the Bezesteni, a large covered market built by the Ottomans in the late 15th to early 16th century, where today only the perimeter walls of the central building remain.
In Plateia Lambrouli, where the Bezesteni is located, you can also find remnants of the 6th-century Early Christian baths, the Early Christian basilica of Agios Achillios, and more.
Larissa is filled with pedestrian streets, some quieter than others. If you want to be among people and walk around shops, then Kouma and Asklipiou streets are the places to be.
In the pedestrianized city center and its surroundings, you'll find whatever suits your fancy, from shops to taverns, cafes, and entertainment venues. Moreover, on Panos Street, you should definitely make a stop for grilled food and mezze.
And if you're a fan of cycling, don't forget to rent a bike or bring your own to enjoy rides on the city's bike lanes.
The Municipal Art Gallery Katsigra was founded in 1983 and is housed in a modern building on Georgiou Papandreou Avenue. It is considered the third most important art gallery in Greece.
During a visit to this gallery, you will find 750 paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as 410 other works of sculpture, painting, and printmaking. It also features an art workshop. It's a must-visit if you are an art enthusiast.
Larissa is rightly known as the "city of coffee" because it has had over 1,500 coffee places in the past.
In Plateia Tachydromeiou (Post Office Square), you will find dozens of cafes, making it the liveliest square in the city. You'll also find coffee spots when you climb up from the Ancient Theater to the Frourio hill, as well as on the pedestrian streets mentioned earlier, where you can enjoy your drinks at night in various establishments.
Additionally, around the well-lit square of Dimarchou Aristidis Lambrulis, you will find various bars for evening strolls and cocktails.
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