Pelion History

Pelion History
About the history of Pelion, Greece

According to the ancient Greek mythology, Mount Pelion took its name from the mythical king Peleus, father of Achilles, and it was the homeland of Centaurs, the mythical creatures half-men and half-horse. In fact, it was the centaur Chiron who became the tutor and guardian of Jason until he grew up. Pelion is also the region where the Olympian gods had chosen for their summer holidays.

Just a few km from Volos is Sesklo, an area where many archaeological excavations took place. The remains that were discovered there belong to a well-organized settlement. Walls, houses and tombs from the 7th century BC and other remains from the middle and the modern Neolithic era. From 2,500 to 1,200 BC, there was a settlement where the town of Volos is located today. This settlement was Iolcos, the homeland of Jason, and had an important port. Southwest, there was another maritime town, Alos, close to the present-day town of Almyros. At the beginning of the historical period, Iolcos started to decline. The port of Alos, important during the Persian wars, also lost its importance in the 4th century BC. After Philip V of Macedonia, the port of Pyrasus became the commercial centre of the region.

In 293 BC, king Demetrius Poliorcetes founded a new town, Demetriada. This town flourished in the Roman times but it was just an unimportant provincial town during the Byzantine Empire.

All through the history of Pelion, it was constantly invaded by foreign nations, such as the Goths (in 396 AD) and the Huns (in 539-540 AD). To protect the area, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian fortified the towns of Thessaly. At the same time, the Byzantine Castle of Volos was constructed on the ruins of the ancient town of Iolcos. In the Medieval times, Pelion also accepted pirate raids from the sea, which is why many villages are constructed on hill slopes with view to the sea and most mansions of Pelion had a fortifying architecture. After the occupation of Constantinople by the crusaders in 1204, the Venetians occupied the region of Pelion. In 1393, Pelion went under the Turkish occupation. During the years of the Greek Revolution, the famous clergyman and scholar Anthimos Gazis tried to raise the national spirit of Pelion and lead it to independence.

Pelion declared its participation to the Greek Revolution under captain Kyriakos Basdekis, on the 7th of May 1821. But the Turkish army stopped the evolutionary movement of Pelion in blood. A second attempt of liberation was stopped again in March 1854. Pelion eventually won its independence in 1881, when the entire Thessaly was integrated to the Greek State.

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