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Thessaly - Scenic Rocks and Fascinating Monasteries

Thessaly is a magical place with mythical and historical roots. The region fascinates with its world-famous monasteries, which are enthroned on the peaks of the Meteora Rocks, wonderful beaches, majestic mountains and the beautiful islands of the Northern Sporades.

Typical landscape in Thessaly

Geography - The breadbasket of Greece

Thessaly (also called "Thessalia") is a region in the centre of Greece. It borders on Macedonia in the north, on Central Greece in the south, on Epirus in the west and on the Aegean Sea in the east. With an area of 14,036 km² and a population of about 733,000 people, Thessaly is one of the largest and most populated regions in the country. Its capital is the city of Larissa. Politically speaking, Thessaly is divided into 4 regions: Larissa, Magnisia, Trikala and Karditsa. In addition, several islands of the Northern Sporades belong to Thessaly, for example Skopelos and Skiathos. The climate is mostly continental, except for the Pelion Range, which is dominated by Mediterranean climate. The winters are usually very cold, while the summers are very hot. There are regular rainstorms in the Thessalian Plain in summer, which make it a fertile area. That is why the region is often referred to as the "breadbasket of Greece".

Thessaly near Kalabaka

Nature - Boundless diversity

Thessaly is characterised by a diverse and beautiful landscape. You see impressive mountains, a vast green plain, thick forests, wonderful beaches along the whole shoreline and great rivers. The Thessalian Plain is the largest one in Greece and consists of the Larissa lowlands and the Trikala lowlands. This fertile plain is surrounded by the mountains of Pindus, Mount Olympus, Pelion (also called "Pilio"), Othris, Ossa and Agrafa. The region's most significant rivers are the Titarisios and Peneios. The latter is one of the country's longest rivers and crosses the whole region until it flows into the Aegean Sea through a narrow gorge, the Vale of Tempe. It is responsible for the development of the Plain of Thessaly. This plain is intensely used for agriculture. One of the most important products is cotton. The lush forests, which cover a large part of Thessaly, mainly consist of pine and chestnut trees. In the region of Trikala, you find the world-famous Meteora range - an area which accommodates a large number of high, steep rocks. Lake Plastiras near Karditsa, which is located in front of the backdrop of the majestic Agrafa mountains, offers an equally spectacular sight.

Lake Plastiras in Thessaly

Culture - Discovering monasteries which are 600 years old

Thessaly is strongly linked to the country's mythological past. The region lies at the foot of Mount Olympus, the seat of the Greek gods, and is home to the centaurs. In addition, Jason and the Argonauts are also said to have started their search for the Golden Fleece here. In Trikala, at the western end of the Thessalian Plain, where you find the Pindus, nature has created a unique phenomenon which the Byzantine monks chose as the perfect location for their monastery complex. Twenty-four monasteries, the Meteora monasteries, have been standing on the steep rocks for 600 years and captivate both pilgrims and visitors. A particularly worthwhile destination in the region is the beautiful town of Kalabaka below the majestic rocks. The Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum of Volos is one of the country's most interesting museums due to its prehistoric finds. Karditsa also accommodates many archaeological sights such as the spas in Smokovo and Kaitsa as well as a Mycenaean beehive tomb near Georgiko. You also find excavation sites in the capital of Larissa, which trace the city's settlement back to the Palaeolithic Age. On a tour through the capital, travellers should visit the medieval fortifications, Alkazar Park and the ancient theatre. The Archaeological Museum displays very interesting Palaeolithic and archaic finds. The city's pinacotheca is famous for its huge collection of paintings.

Meteora Monastery near Kalabaka

Experience - Tasting the best Greek wines

Thessaly is particularly suited for lovers of nature. Its varied landscapes are waiting to be explored and impress with their beauty. The cities have a lot to offer too. Volos, for example, is a vibrant and lively city with wide roads and boulevards. The waterside promenade is a popular meeting point among both locals and visitors. It accommodates many ice cream shops, restaurants and cafeterias. In addition, there are numerous taverns in which you can enjoy the typical Greek cuisine. Of course, you have ouzo or wine with your meal because some of the best Greek wines come from Thessaly. The nightlife mainly takes place in the taverns in this region.

Tavern in Makrinitsa

Activities - Bathing and leisure activities for all age groups

The scenic town of Stomio with its smoothly sloping beach and the village of Agiokampos with its endless sandy beach promise unforgettable bathing holidays in an idyllic atmosphere. The beaches of the two islands of the Sporades Skopelos and Skiathos are equally beautiful. In the region of Trikala, you find an asphalt road which runs between the Meteora monasteries. The monasteries are about 21 kilometres away from Kalabaka. Only five of the former twenty-four monasteries are still inhabited: the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, the Holy Monastery of Varlaam, the Agia Triada Monastery, the Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and the Holy Monastery of Rousanou. The breathtaking landscapes can be explored by bike or on foot. In addition, travellers can go shooting with bow and arrow, kayaking, canyoning, rock climbing, hiking, sailing and diving.

Beach in Thessaly

Information

Thessaly can be reached by plane via the international airports in Athens (ATH) and Thessaloniki (SKG) or via the airport Nea Anchialos (VOL) near Volos at the Pagasetic Gulf. Volos accommodates one of the most significant harbours in the whole of Greece, at which you can arrive by ferry. From Athens or Thessaloniki, you reach Thessaly via the A1 motorway in a rental car.

Travellers who come to Thessaly will be filled with wonder. Whether it is due to the impressive and diverse landscapes or the fascinating Meteora monasteries, holidaymakers experience a unique trip into the home of the gods and centaurs here.

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