LARISSA - THE QUEEN OF THE PLAIN
The prefecture of Larissa is the largest in Thessaly, bordering Pieria, Kozani, Grevena, Trikala, Karditsa, Fthiotida and Magnesia. Large sandy beaches, forests, the plain which flows through Pinios in combination with the monuments of civilization and the unique landscape are what characterize it. Pinios crosses the prefecture through Olympus, Kissavos and the valley of Tempon and then ends at Thermaikos forming the Delta which is one of the most important wetlands. Traditional villages and towns with old mansions, stone bridges, historical monuments and churches adorn the prefecture.
The Acropolis of Larissa is located on the hill of Agios Achilleios known today as the Hill of the Fortress and is the only hill in the city. Bezesteni is a monument of great historical value and offers a unique space for exhibitions and events. It was built on the highest point of the hill, in the ancient citadel of Larissa, also known as the Fortress and dates back to the late 15th and early 16th century. The name "Bezesteni" means cloth market as it comes from the Persian word bez which means cotton and the word bezzaz which means cloth merchant.
The tomb of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, designed by the sculptor George Kalakalas is located opposite the Alcazar Park as well as the cenotaph Medical Museum. The ancient theater connects today's Larissa with its glorious past, as it is one of the most important that has been saved, which according to archaeologists is not inferior to that of Epidaurus. It was dedicated to the god Dionysus and was used for six centuries. Theatrical performances, fights, meetings, and duels were held during the Roman period.
In the village of Giannouli, is the tavern of Harokopos, which is one of the most impressive mansions and belonged to the landowner and benefactor Panagi Harokopos. The building has been designated by the Ministry of Culture as a protected monument. The archeological museum is housed in a 19th-century mosque, which was donated by Queen Olga to the remaining Muslims in the city. It is the newest of the city's mosques and the only one that survives today. The ancient objects are exhibited in the unique hall of the mosque. The Museum has a permanent exhibition, which contains exhibits of Paleolithic, Neolithic, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman collections.
The Alcazar Park, which is over 100 years old, stretches along the Pinios and is an important green lung that hosts the zoo and the famous September bazaar. It has sidewalks, bike paths, recreation areas, lake, playgrounds and an open-air theater known as the "Garden Theater". It also hosts the Monument of the National Resistance, of the famous sculptor Philolaos Tloupas, the Alcazar football stadium which is the historic headquarters of the city team, as well as the shaped banks of the river Pinios, where the celebration of Pinios is organized.
Olympus with the peak of "Mytika" reaching 2,917 m. Is the highest mountain in Greece, known worldwide by Mythology as it was the residence of the 12 Gods of Ancient Greece. The 12 gods lived, "in the aspects of Olympus" where their palaces are located, while the Pantheon was their meeting point. It stands out for its rich flora and fauna and is the first area for which a protection regime was applied as a National Park. In 1981 UNESCO declared Olympus the "Conserved Ecosystem of the World Biosphere". Many villages are located on its slopes, while the area is a unique destination for nature lovers.
Kissavos, known as Ossa, is opposite Olympus while between them is the valley of Tempi. The mountain is associated with the worship of the goddess Demeter, Asklepios, Hercules, Philoctetes and Alexander the Great. It has been designated as the "Aesthetic Forest of Ossa" and is protected by the pan-European Natura 2000, as an area of unique natural beauty. Characteristic is the rocky side in contrast to the green side where hares, wild boar deer, pheasants and partridges live. In many of the mountain villages such as Spilia, Karitsa, Metaxochori etc. There are traditional hostels, while the mountain shelter in the place "Kanalos", can accommodate up to 35 people. The mountain crosses the national path O2 from Olympus to Pelion.
At the foot of Mount Olympus, Elassona is known as the largest dairy headquarters in Greece. The Monastery of Panagia Olympiotissa of the 13th century is the most recognizable point of the city and the most important monument of the area. Important sights are the old arched bridge on the hill of Olympiotissa, the exhibits of the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of National Resistance, as well as the route on the forest road to the Forest. At 5 km from Elassona is Tsaritsani, the "little Paris" of the 18th century which means "royal". There are also some old mansions and churches such as Agios Nikolaos which is a masterpiece of post-Byzantine art. In Tsaritsani it is also worth visiting the towers, mansions and monasteries.
In the Province of Elassona there are many villages that have infrastructure of all kinds such as five shelters that can accommodate hikers and climbers and two marked trails, the European E4 and the National O2. In Vrysopoules, the military facilities of the Mountain Race and Ski Training Center operate, which has a track, with an altitude of 2,450 near Elassona. In most of the villages of Olympus there are accommodations, traditional food with the unique hospitality of the inhabitants. The Thessalian side of Olympus is ideal for cycling tours due to its morphology. Sarandaporo is also a historic village that belongs to the province of Elassona in a strategic position of the homonymous "Straits of Sarandaporo".
Kallipefki at an altitude of 1,100 m. offers beautiful routes to Palio Panteleimon of Pieria as it is surrounded by dense pine forests to which it owes its name. Until 1911, it enjoyed the view of Lake Askyridos, which was drained and given for cultivation, while its reopening is being discussed for reasons of ecological balance. Its forest is endless with cliffs and ravines, while its gorges are covered by dense vegetation. At 17 km from Larissa, is the historic town of Tyrnavos, known for the production of tsipouro and its Carnival, with the custom of "Bourani". The landscape is of unique wild beauty, with rivers, stone bridges and towers. The Turkish bath also with the glass vaulted roof that stands there since 1425, is one of the interesting sights of the area.
Farsala stands out with the springs of Apidanos, the vaulted tomb, the majestic cave of Nymphaeum, the hill Htouri and the "Kinos Kefalai", two steep cliffs. The area is famous for its farce halva, tsipouro, trachana, embroidery, apples and pears. Tempi is the area where Pinios crosses the mountains of Olympus and Kissavos. In the valley is the place where according to mythology, the god Panas hunted oaks and nymphs. The area is overgrown with abundant springs that end in the river which is a refuge for rare birds, while the forests compose a unique landscape. Rapsani is a beautiful town with the characteristic watermills from the 12th to the 13th century that prove that it was a prosperous Byzantine city.
The Tower amphitheatrically built at the foot of Mount Olympus harmoniously combines picturesqueness and natural wealth with modern infrastructure. Particularly picturesque are its chapels in the wooded areas, while the "Petrogefyro'' has a special beauty. Ambelakia is a historic village at the foot of Kissavos at the entrance of the valley of Tempi. Its name came from the many small vineyards that existed in the area. The village has been declared a landmark for its architectural heritage. The Skete built on the slopes of Montenegro at an altitude of 350 m., is a village in which monks practiced in the past. The forest of Montenegro, which is dominated by many species of trees and animals, has joined the European Network NATURA 2000.
The beaches of the prefecture are the 2nd largest coastline in Greece with a length of 14 km. The ports of Stomio and Agiokampos are anchored for boats and sailboats. The ring road from Agiokampos to Stomio connects the beaches and offers a beautiful route. The northern beaches, Mesangala, Kastri bath, Stomio are sandy, while south with pebbles and the vegetation reaches the sea. Agiokampos is a seaside settlement in which coins of ancient Istiaia have been found. Sotiritsa is an organized beach with taverns, cafes, and rooms for rent.
Velika beach is a coastal settlement with the characteristic of the Castle of Velika, near the coast that is awarded with "blue flags". In a green environment, is the resort of Kokkino Nero with the Aegean and Kissavos being a special combination of mountain and sea. It got its name from the spring that gushes in the area that owes its color to the minerals and is considered thermal. The natural beauty of the area and the gorge of Calypso with its waterfalls and the forest with the tall beeches are also incomparable. The waterfall is the largest (70m.) of Kissavos that can be visited only with experienced guides through the verdant path for a swim in the crystal clear waters of its lake.
Larissa as well as the whole region of Thessaly is famous for the pies with puff pastry with more than 30 types of pie: cheese pie, milk pie, onion pie, yogurt pie, eggplant pie, plasara etc. The tsipouro and ouzo also produced in the region are considered to be of the best quality in Greece with those of Tyrnavos standing out. Larissa is also famous for its high quality local cheese products such as feta cheese etc. due to its intense livestock activity. The most famous local product of the city of Farsala is halva, a popular dessert. On Shrove Monday you can try the bourani, a salty vegetable soup offered to the participants of the carnival custom.