Larissa is a city of Thessaly, seat of the municipality of Larissa and capital of the Regional Unit of Larissa. It is also the seat of the Region of Thessaly as well as the Decentralized Administration of Thessaly - Central Greece. According to the 2011 census, it has 144,651 permanent residents, occupies an area of approximately 88 and has an average gravitational altitude of 70 meters. It is an important shopping center and communication and transport hub, while the area is famous for its agricultural production as it is located in the Thessalian Plain.


Origin and etymology of the name
The name of Larissa is pre-Greek of Pelasgian origin and was very widespread in Greece and means a strongly fortified hill or citadel, this name was also given to the citadel of Argos. Also according to mythology the city of Larissa was built in the Pelasgian period by the hero Larissos, son of Pelasgos.

According to the ancient legend, the nymph Larissa, playing with her ball next to Pinios, slipped and drowned in its waters and the city took its name from it. Larissa, according to mythology, was the wife of Poseidon and the mother of Achaeus, Fthias and Pelasgos or according to another version, she was the daughter of Pelasgos.

Far from the legends and traditions about the beautiful nymph, the experts in their attempt to interpret the name of the city consider that it came from somewhere else and was given in praise, since the low hill of the Fortress does not match the meaning of the word Larissa. , that is, of this stone citadel or fortress.

The city of Larissa is built in a Mediterranean position on both banks of the river Pinios and is located in the center of the eastern part of the Thessalian plain, which occupies almost entirely the Prefecture of Larissa, with a small part located in the Prefecture of Magnesia. The altitude of the city from sea level is 80 meters. The mountains that surround the city are the following: from the east the mountains Ossa (1972 m.) And Mavrovouni (1,054 m.), From the northeast the mountains Kato Olympus (1,587 m.) And Olympus (2,918 m.), From the north to the west Mount Melouna and Mount Titan (693 m). Today in the wider area of ​​Larissa there is no natural lake.

Larissa is an ancient city and has been inhabited for almost 4,000 years. Archaeological excavations show that the area of ​​Larissa was inhabited during the Paleolithic period. The power of the city until the end of the rule of the Macedonians was held by the Thessalian Alevades. During the Persian wars, its inhabitants fought and fought against the other Greeks on the side of foreign invaders. During the Peloponnesian War they fought on the side of the Athenians. Larissa had minted a coin and several ancient coins have been rescued. In Larissa lived and died, at the age of about 90, the Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, who was buried somewhere between Gyrtoni, Tyrnavos and Larissa.

Macedonian and Roman period
In the 4th century BC. Larissa, with the help of forces from Central Greece, fought with the city of Farsalo to maintain its power and defeated it. However, this war exhausted its soldiers, who could not defend themselves against the Macedonian invasion under Philip II in 344 BC. The city was subjugated to the Macedonians from 344-196 BC. During the Hellenistic period, the Larissa horsemen of Alexander the Great (who had a good reputation at the time) founded Larissa in Syria and Larissa in Arabia.

In 197 BC. the Romans occupied the city. During Roman rule, Larissa experienced a brief period of prosperity. In the 2nd century BC. Eleftheria was founded, a Panthessalian festival in honor of Eleftherios Zeus, which included equestrian competitions as well as literary, dance, nude, music competitions. With the establishment of large Roman land properties in Thessaly, the institution of the Thessalian public was degraded and a period of decline followed for Larissa. There was a decrease in its population and the life of the inhabitants became difficult. However, Larissa manages to overcome the crisis with the relocation of populations from the surrounding cities while at the same time slaves were freed.

Byzantine period
Then the city fell to Byzantium and in all these centuries it was repeatedly invaded. At the end of the 6th century there was a great period of unrest and unrest, during which the cities of Thessaly cease to be mentioned in the sources. This phenomenon was created by a large part of the barbaric raids.

Slavic tribes settled in areas of Thessaly and Macedonia during their invasions, which with the appropriate policy of the Byzantine emperors were Christianized and integrated into the local population. In order to face new dangers, an administrative reorganization of the state took place with Thessaly now belonging to the Theme of Greece. Larissa was the capital of Thema for some time, especially during the Bulgarian wars. Thessaly was threatened by the invasions of the Bulgarians (late 10th century) under Tsar Samuel, which culminated in the occupation of Larissa in 982 AD. after a three-year siege. At the same time, the relics of Agios Achillios were transferred from Larissa to Prespa, where a church was built in his honor.


After the defeat of the Bulgarians in 966 AD. by General Nikiforos Ouranos in the battle of Sperchios, followed a period of peace and reorganization of Byzantium by the emperor Basil II, who took care of the restoration of the destroyed fortresses of Thessaly.

During the reign of the emperor Alexios I Komnenos (1082-1118 AD), the Normans, ruled by Boemundos, looted the area and besieged Larissa for a long time, but their attacks were successfully repulsed by Alexios' campaign in 1083 AD.

In the 12th century begins the disintegration of the central organization of the state and the emergence of small districts with different names. This system spread to Thessaly, which, having huge plains, aroused the interest of the powerful of the time.

Ottoman period
The decline that prevailed in the 14th century facilitated the consolidation of Ottoman rule with various Greek and foreign dynasties exploiting economically a large part of the rural population. Ottoman rule contributed to the decline of the already declining economy, with the result that a large part of the population moved to the mountains for greater security, away from Ottoman rule. In 1881 Thessaly was liberated by the Greek army and annexed to the Greek state. Until the annexation of Thessaly, the city was named Yeni Sehir Feneri, in contrast to Yeni Sehir Eyaleti, which was the name of the wider area, approximately the current prefecture.

Modern history
In the city of Larissa and in the neighboring areas, a huge population of refugees from Eastern Romulia, Asia Minor, Cappadocia and Pontus settled, resulting in the creation of new neighborhoods in the size of small towns. During World War II the city suffered great damage from the bombing of Italian planes in 1941.

Larissa today
Today, Larissa is one of the largest Greek cities. It has three public hospitals: the General Hospital, the University Hospital and the Military Hospital. It hosts many public services. It is the seat of the Decentralized Administration of Thessaly - Central Greece, the Region of Thessaly, the Tactical Aviation, the 1st Army, the NATO Headquarters, the Thessalian Theater, the Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry-Biotechnology of the University of Thessaly, and the Department. E.I. Thessaly, the third largest Technological Institute in Greece. From 2019, after the abolition of TEI all over the country, new departments and schools are hosted in the building, laboratory and administrative facilities of the University of Thessaly. Larissa also occupies the first place among Greek cities in terms of green coverage per sq.m. urban space. At 1 Karditsis Street there is one of the largest judicial prisons in the country, the closed store in Larissa. Its football team, the Athletic Union of Larissa (AEL), is the only provincial team that has managed to win a championship and two Greek cups.