Volos (Iolcos, Iolcus)

The birthplace of the Greek Myths.

Can you not get enough of Greek culture? There is plenty more to discover in Volos! From Volos you can see the best places on the Pelion Peninsula. The city is surrounded by unspoilt countryside, 24 ancient villages known for their unique architecture, crystal blue water beaches, culture, history, nature, remnants of classical antiquity. You can go in any direction!

Volos is one of the largest and most attractive cities in Greece. A major port of the country with a lively culture, rich history: that is Volos! The modern city, built close to the old Iolkos, in the Magnesia region dominates from its position at the foot of Mount Pelion with view over the Pagasetic Gulf.

The mythical background of the region captures the imagination of visitors. According to mythology, Pelion was the summer residence for the Gods of Olympus home of the Centaurs.

Volos is known as the starting point for the legendary expedition of Jason and the Argonauts. It has a replica of the mythical Argo, the emblem of Volos city, created and this is often actually sails around.

Volos lies at sea, the the Pagasetic Bay, creating a lovely waterfront with numerous cafés, including the famous tsipouradika, where you can enjoy traditional tsipouro and excellent seafood. They are small charming places set in a marine environment, where you can sip the local “tsipouro” (spirit) and taste the delicious “mezedes” (appetizers or tapas).

The pedestrian seaside Argonauten Avenue offer stunning views to the sea, being the most popular meeting place, promenade spot for residents and visitors of the city.

The main pedestrian shopping street, the numerous mansions, the public palaces, the industrial plants of the early 20th century and the historic churches, make the walking in Volos really enjoyable. The remarkable cultural activity and the lively university community complement the image of the city.

The local theatre always has concerts of jazz music, guitar, classical concerts, painting exhibitions and dancing shows. In the daytime cheerful restaurants and taverns compete for your time with shops, museums and parks. At night, clubs and bars bring a lovely atmosphere to the city.

Volos has two family friendly sandy beaches Anavros and Alykies, where one can, visit historical sites enjoy the sea, the many taverns, restaurants and cafes. The city has a wealth of cultural treasures. For example the ruins of the Mycenaean fortress city, the 19th century train station of Volos, the museum of the legendary “Argo” ship, beautiful buildings (remained untouched after the 1995 earthquake) and many more.

Few kilometers in the west of the city you find the archaeological sites of Sesklo (the settlement dates back to 6000 BC and is the oldest in Europe), and Dimini, which is the most famous prehistoric settlement of Greece, the most important of the earlier Neolithic Period.

History and Culture

Volos is founded in the mid 19th century, the city nearly totally damaged in the 1955 earthquake is rebuild. The modern city, close to the old Iolkos in the Magnesia region, is a cheerful, lively town.

There are several theories about the origin of the city name. “Volos” was called “Golos”, according to a Byzantine historian of the 14th century; the most widely accepted is that it represents a corruption of the Mycenaean lolkos.

Mythology

Greece, Magnesia, Volos (Iolcos, Iolcus)
Jason Takes the fleece

 

Some of the most important pages of the Greek mythology are dedicated to Volos area. The mythological chieftain of Magnesia was Magnes, son of Aeolus and Aenareti. He settled down in Pelion (Pilio), known as the mountain inhabited by the Centaures. A well known Centaur had been Chiron (Heiron, who was Asclepius’ and Achilles‘ teacher and who intervened for Thetis’s marriage with Pileus. The wedding took place in Pelion (Pilio) and it was attended by many gods and heroes. According to mythology, during this wedding and because of “the apple of Eris” the Troian war was sparked off. The Argonautical Enterprise, a well known mythological fact with historical implications, had also started from the mycenean city of lolkos.

The first populations settled down in the area date back to the early prehistoric period (7.000 B.C.). Some of the most important Neolithic sites, not only

The prehistoric settlement at Sesklo is located here. Up until now, the archaelogical research brought to light more than 40 Neolithic settlements (7.000 – 4.000 B.C.), some of which continued to exist until the Bronze Age (3.000 – 1.000 B.C.). The significant Neolithic settlements Dimini and Sesklo are close to the city of Volos. They appear to be the first traces of permanent human settlement in the wider region.

The prehestoric settlemment of Dimini

Greece, Magnesia, Volos, prehistoric settlement Dimini
Prehistoric settlemet of Sesklo.

Historical sites of importance are: Pagasses (6th century B.C.), reached its peak at the classical period,The first populations in the area date back to the early prehistoric period (7.000 B.C.). Some of the most important Neolithic sites, not only for Greece but for the major area of the Balkans, are located here. Up until now, archaelogical research brought to light more than 40 Neolithic settlements (7.000 – 4.000 B.C.), some of which continued to exist until the Bronze Age (3.000 – 1.000 B.C.). The significant Neolithic settlements of Dimini and Sesklo are close to the city of Volos. They appear to be the first traces of permanent human settlement in the wider region.

Greece, Magnesia, Volos, prehistoric settlement Dimini
Prehestoric settlemment of Dimini

The city of Iolcos, Iolcus

Iolcos originates back to the Mycenaean period. Important Mycenaean sites can be found on the hill of Agioi Theodoroi, at the spots known as Palia (old city center) in Volos and Pefkakia.

During the classical period, in the 6th century BC, Pagasses flourished, a coastal town, seaport of Ferres. It lies today’s on the place Bourboulithra at the town’s entrance. Amfanes (4th century B.C.), lies today in place Soros, and the ancient city on Goritsa hill originates back to the first half of the 4th Century B.C., founded probably by Macedonia’s king Philippus B’.

The city of Dimitriada

Around 293 BC, the Macedonian king Dimitrios Poliorkitis erects the city of Dimitriada on the Volos peninsula today known as Pefkakia, to the south of the modern city. Dimitriada is to become the Macedonian king’s great military and trading centre. The city built according to the Hippodamian system had strong fortifications and exceptional buildings, e.g. the palace, the agora and the theatre. Discovered ombstones provide a wealth of information on the financial and cultural life of the city. Also important is nearby Anchialos.

After 1204, the region passed into the hands of the renowned Byzantine family, Melissinos. We read first the name of the city as ‘Volos’ in documents dating from the14th century AD. The Ottoman and modern history of the city is equally important, as portrayed in its many monuments and museums.

The economic development meets also a cultural blossoming in a city that succeeds in combining neo-classic and the modern times.
The great folk painter Theofilos lived and worked in Volos at the end of the 19th century and followed by another big artist, Giorgio De Chirico, son of the President of the Thessalian Railways, Evaristo de Chirico, who built the small but famous railway of Pelion Mountain.

Sights

Walking or cycling gives you the opportunity to see, neoclassical buildings, pedestrian zones with cafés and shops, parks and green spaces, the old town with its tiny streets and its castle ruines, markets, musea, many eating, dining and drinking places.

There’s a strong cultural scene here, well-stocked archaeological musea, and one of the oldest cinemas in Greece, the Achilleion. In the west, by the port terminal you’ll find a full-scale replica of the Argo, the mythical ship which left from the region (or more accurately Iolcus, the city’s ancient forerunner) carrying Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece. A little way out of the city lie two important Neolithic settlements Dimini and Sesklo.

Worth visiting is Volos Archaeological Museum. Visitors can dmire a great selection of prehistoric findings such as: ceramics, pottery, clays statues, stone implements and weapons. Exhibits from the classical and Roman period are on display. Other significant musea are the Kitsos Makris Folklore Museum (which belongs to the University), the Theofilos Museum ( in Anakasia) and the Museum of Folk Art and History in Makrinitsa.

Apart from the impressive exhibits in this town there are excellent places to visit. There is a huge green park across the harbour where you can go for strolls by the sea. It is worth seeing the remains of the old city of Dimitriados in Pagasses, some 6 km outside of Volos. In that side do not forget to visit Pefkakia, Alykies, Mikrothives, Amaliapolis, Pteleos and Achilleio.

From the suburb of Ano Volos, on the slopes of Pelion, the Pagasitic Bay and the town below take on another dimension.

Your journey can continue to the Pelion Mountain Peninsula with 24 picturesque and traditional villages easily accessed and relatively in a small distance from Volos and Sporades Islands.

Archaeological SIGHTS

  • – Hill of Palaia (the oldest settlement of Volos) – Mycenian Castle of Volos
  • – Demetrias – The palace of the Macedonians
  • – Pefkakia, a mycenian site
  • – Dimini Archaeological Site (Neolithic settlement)
  • – The prehistoric settlement of Sesklo Sesklo Site
  • – The ancient city of Feres (Velestino)
  • – Promahonas, Goritsa Hill
Overige sights

The road “Feron”, the old gastronomic center. In the north of the central road “Sekeri”, to the railway lines, is located the road “Feron”, which is considered to be the old traditional gastronomic, cultural and commercial center of the city.

 

Musea

  • – Athanassakeion Archaeological Museum
  • – The Volos city Museum
  • – Argonauts Avenue – A replica of The Argo ship; In the museum of Argo the visitors can visit the ship.
  • – The railway station Museum
  • – Art centre “Giorgio di Chirico”
  • – The Municipal Art Gallery
  • – The Pre-war Silk Factory Museum
  • – Brickworks Museum (Tsalapatas factory)
  • – The Tobacco Museum (19th and 20th century collection)
  • – Museum of the National Resistance
  • – Natural History Museum
  • – Entomological Museum
  • – Kitsos Makris Folklore Museum
  • – Folk Museum of the Lyceum Club of Greek Women
  • – Exhibition of the authentic folk artist N. Christopoulos (1880-1967)

Neoclassical buildings

  • – Conservatory (1900)
  • – “Achilleion” Cinema (1920s)
  • – Bank of Greece (1930s).
  • – University / Papastratou, toboco factory building (1935)
  • – The fish market

Beaches

  • – Anavros
  • – Alykies

Access

There are several ways to get to the city of Volos, most of them being a combination of public transport means. The nearest airports to Volos-Pelion are Volos (VOL) Nea Anchialos , Skiathos (JSI), Thessaloniki, and to a minder extent Athens> read more

The simpler and more beneficial way to come to Volos is to get a direct a flight to Volos, Thessalloniki or Athens, spend a couple of days on sightseeing, and then use your (rental) car, public transport from those two cities and the town of Almyros to Volos as indicated below. You may also wish to allocate a day or two for a tour around Volos to visit the superb surrounding area of unique natural beauty at Pelion, the home of the Centaurs followed by a visit to Sporades Islands Cluster very near to Volos wit direct ferry verbinding.

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