About Magnesia

The prefecture of Magnesia occupies the east side of Thessaly, encompassing the peninsula if the same name which ends in cape Trikeri and encloses the Pagasitic gulf in its embrace. Its boundaries extend to the Northern Sporades islands of Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnisos. Among the fairest regions in Greece, Magnesia, crowned by superb Pelion, probably owes its name to the Magnetes tribe, who led by Magnes - son of Aiolos - inhabited the area in prehistoric times. Travelers, however, who may find themselves taken unaware, carried away so much beauty, may find another unscientific derivation of the word more appropriate, as they find themselves "magnetised" by the place. Much praised Pelion with its picturesque hamlets; Volos and its port, which holds out a promise to modern-day Argonauts of travels full of surprises; gorgeous beaches, some tucked into wind-free coves, some disappearing into infinite expanse of the Aegean, are only some of the delights hidden away in this corner of Greece. Pine trees, oaks, first, wild olive trees, chestnut trees and a myriad shrubs and plants - most of them with therapeutic properties - cover the mountains of Magnesia (Mt. Pelion, Tisaion, Orthris, Mavrovouni) which take up the greater portion of its surface, endowing it not only with unsurpassed loveliness, but also with wealth. Magnesia is also renowned for its healthy climate; thanks to the beneficial effect of the sea surrounding it to the south and east it is blessed with mild winters and cool summers. The shoreline formed by the large enclosed Pagasitic gulf and the Magnesia peninsula is somewhat broken up in the inner coast of the Pagasitic, while the coast is facing the open sea is unindented. Another characteristic of the region that is most pronounced in Pelion is its advanced social attitude towards culture, which is revealed not only in the preservation of traditional houses but also in the locals' efforts to revive tradition in their customs and habits as well as in their arts and crafts. The high standard of folk art found in the museums as well as in shops is directly linked with the daily way of life in the region today. From the economic pont of view the prefecture shows a balanced development of agriculture, industry - with the first car assembly plants in Greece; and tourism - with the ongoing qualitative upgrading of insfrastructure and services in this sector.

A Brief History

Magnesia was among the first areas in Greece to be inhabited. Archaeologists have brought to light mesolithic finds from the Sarakinos cave, neolithic settlements such as Dimini and Sesklo, as well as forgotten Mycenaean cities that played an important role during the Bronze Age. All these discoveries prove that distinguished cities were founded in the district around present day Volos and that they reached their peak during the Mycenaean era. Among them was the legendary Iolkos, capital of Mycenaean Thessaly and site of today's Volos. It was from here that the Argo set off with Jason and the Argonauts for the distant shores of the Black Sea in quest of the Golden Fleece. One reason of this campaign was to strengthen the maritime empire of that region's bold inhabitants, the Minyans; the other was to broaden the naval horizons of the period. Homer also mentions the participation of Iolkos in the Trojan War, along with the other Magnesian cities among which is listed Phthia, the birthplace of Achilles. After the Mycenaean era, the cities of Magnesia began to decline and by the end of the 4th century BC, the province was just an insignificant province of Macedonia. During the course of Greek history, however, certain cities linked by a common characteristic - their proximity to the Pagasitic gulf - restored a measure of its old glory to the region. For example, one can cite Pegases, which flourished particularly during the 5th century BC; Dimitrias, founded in the 3rd century BC; Pthiotic Thebes, an important city during the early Christian era; and Almiros, a powerful commercial city of the 12th century. The Turkish occupation of Magnesia was unusual in that it did not extend into the eastern, inaccessible portion of Pelion; as a result, the coastal towns were abandoned in favor of the remote mountain villages there, which acquired a special cultural and economic lustre, becoming at the same time a bastion for "teachers and fighters of the Greek nation". In the revolution of 1821 for which those people helped prepare, the flag of rebellion waved over Milies. In 1881 with the treaty of Berlin, Magnesia, together with Thessaly, was incorporated into the free Greek state to become one of the most vital areas in the country, combining natural beauty with economic and cultural development.