Leonidas Monument Thermopylae, Phthiotis, Greece
Leonidas Monument Thermopylae, Phthiotis, Greece (Image credit: Gancheva Pixabay)

Phthiotis: Amazing history unique natural beauty

Home of Achilles, the place where the Thermopylae battle happened, natural thermal springs, beautiful seaside towns, historical monuments

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.OVERVIEW

The regional unit of Phthiotis is part of the region of Central Greece and its name which dates back to ancient times means “the region of Phthia”, the southernmost region of ancient Thessaly around Pharsalus. It is best known as the home of Achilles, the tragic hero of the Trojan War. The capital of the regional unit is Lamia, a city which played an important role in the 1821 Revolution. Top archaeological sites such as Thermopylae, beautiful seaside towns such as Kamena Vourla (renowned for its thermal springs), Stylida (famous for its magnificent mountain scenery and turquoise waters), picturesque fishing villages and charming mountain settlements, have made Phthiotis a popular tourist destination throughout the year, offering a multitude of things to see and do to its visitors.

.AT A GLANCE

Capital: Lamia Regional unit’s area: 4,440 km2 Regional unit’s population: 158,231 Climate: A hot-summer Mediterranean climate

.ADMINISTRATION

The regional unit Phthiotis is subdivided into seven municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES

LAMIA    AMFIKLEIA-ELATEIA    DOMOKOS   

KAMENA VOURLA    LOKROI    MAKRAKOMI    STYLIDA


.MUNICIPALITY OF LAMIA

Area: 947.0 km2 Population: 75,315 Density: 80/km2 Website: https://www.lamia.gr/

.HISTORY

The first historic reference of Lamia is in 426 B.C. due to the destructive earthquake that caused damages in Thessalia. In antiquity, the city played an important role due to its strategic location, controlling the narrow coastal plain above Thermopylae that connected southern Greece with Thessaly and the rest of the Balkans. The city after the middle of the 4th BC came under the rule of Philip II of Macedonia and was contested by the  Thessalians and Aetolians until the Roman conquest in the early 2nd century BC. Throughout time, the city fell in the hands of various foreign conquerors including the Slavs, the Francs, the Catalans. Catalans named it El Cito, In 1446 Lamia was occupied by the Turks until the liberation of the city in 1833. To the Turks it was known as Zituni or Zeytun. Lamia played an important role in the 1821 Revolution and was liberated in 1832. The town recuperated the name “Lamia” and became the most prosperous town of Central Greece.

.POINTS OF INTEREST

Lamia Castle: The city’s fortified Acropolis stands on the top of a rocky hill offering a panoramic view to the valley of Spercheios. The acropolis was the centre of the defense system of Lamia during the Classical/Hellenistic Era and has been used throughout centuries.

Athanasios Diakos Monument: In the centre of the Athanasios Diakos Square stands the statue of the great hero of the Greek Revolution of 1821 who shed his blood in Lamia while he was captured by the Turks after the battle in Alamana.

Acropolis (Medieval Castle) of Ypati: Ypati was first entrenched during the Hellenistic period. A few remains of this fortification have been found round the Castle and in the modern settlement. The view is breathtaking.

Hatzichristos Mansion: Built in the second half of the 19th century, this is the residence of the Hatzichristos family whose members were directly related to the 1821 Revolution. 

6th Junior High School (Gymnasium): Founded by King Othon of Greece, it has been characterized as a historical preserved monument because of its architectural importance due to its analogies. It has been the first Gymnasium (Junior High School) in Lamia.

Platia Eleftherias (Freedom Square): This area is home to the town’s famous Independence Day parade and main cathedral. Also has various cafes with outdoor seating.

Gorgopotamos Bridge: On this bridge one of the most glorious pages of contemporary history was written. On 25th November 1942, rival resistance groups cooperated to take this bridge down and delay German reinforcements to Africa. It’s a monument of national unity. The blowing of the Gorgopotamos bridge was one of the greatest acts of sabotage during World War II and won the admiration of all occupied Europe at the time.

Memorial of Leonidas and the 300 Spartans: A modern monument commemorating the battle in 480 B.C. in which a small band of Spartan soldiers held off a huge Persian army for three days. “Stranger, tell the Spartans that we lie here, faithful to their laws.”

.GASTRONOMY

Lamia is famous for its roasted meat. The highlight dishes of the tavernas around Laou square include “kokoretsi” (lamb offal wrapped in lamb intestines), “gardoubaki” (a smaller version of kokoretsi with lamb spleen and intestines) or “kontosouvli” (large chunks of marinated pork). Also try: Olive oils from olive trees of the “Konservolia” variety grown in Phthiotis, “Kelifoto fystiki Phthiotidas” (high-quality pistachio which can be either salted or unsalted), and “Aktinidio” (kiwi) from Spercheios River valley.

.RELIGIOUS SITES

Church of Panagia Archodiki: Built in 1760 just below the Castle of Lamia, it is the second (after the Castle) archaeologically significant monument.

Church of Saint Lukas: Not far from Lamia’s center on a hill, the church was named after a 1910 chapel located here.

Church of Saint Nikolaos: Dating back to the 18-19th century, the church of Saint Nikolaos is the old cathedral of Ypati.

Three-aisled basilica church of Varka: The ruins of a three-aisled basilica in the ‘Varka’ location of the Baths of Ypati.

Agathonos Monastery: On the slope of Mount Oiti, this 14th-15th century monastery is a characteristic feature of the Byzantine Style/Architecture.

Holy Monastery of the Virgin Mary of Damasta: Dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary, the monastery is lying on the north slopes of Mount Kalidromo. 

.KEY MUSEUMS & ART GALLERIES

Archaeological Museum of Lamia: Located within the archaeological site of Lamia Castle, the museum presents Prehistoric and Classical antiquities, covering the Neolithic era, Helladic period, Early Iron Age, Archaic, Classical and Hellenistic period.

Byzantine Museum of Fthiotida: The museum, housed in the building of the so-called ‘Kapodistrian Barracks’, that was built in 1836 to meet the needs of the Greek army, is focusing on the region’s Byzantine-era history. 

Folklife Museum of Fthiotida: Founded in 1984, the museum’s collection includes interesting and historical objects that were part of the local people’s everyday lives in the pre-industrial period.

Centre of Historical Information of Thermopylae: The building of this innovative museum, in the shape of an ancient spearhead turned to the north as if facing the invaders, is next to the monument of Leonidas.

Municipal ‘Alekos Kontopoulos’ Art Gallery: Established in 1984, the Art Gallery’s collection includes 144 works of art and design made by a remarkable figure of Greek Abstract Art and Social Realism, Alekos Kontopoulos.

.TRANSPORT

The closest major airport to Lamia is Nea Anchialos National Airport in Volos (95 km).
You can easily access Lamia by car or bus from Athens and Thessaloniki. There are also daily train itineraries and frequent national bus (KTEL) connections.

.ACCOMODATION

There is a plethora of hotels and accommodation in the city, providing visitors with an ideal base from which they can venture out and explore places of cultural, historical and environmental interest in the vicinity.


TO DO & TO GO