See A. J. B. Wace, Prehistoric Thessaly (1912); H. D. Hansen, Early Civilization in Thessaly (1933); and H. D. Westlake, Thessaly in the Fourth Century B.C. (1935, repr. 1969).
Historical region and current administrative region (pop., 2001: 754,893), east-central Greece. The ancient region corresponded roughly to the modern one. Mount Olympus rises in the northeast. Thessaly is drained by the Piniós River. It was the site of many cultures in the 3rd–2nd millennia BC; by circa 1000 BC Greeks had established power there. Incorporated into the Roman province of Macedon in the 2nd century BC, it was made a separate Roman province in the 4th century AD. In the 7th–13th centuries it was controlled by Slavs, Saracens, Bulgars, and Normans. In the late 14th century it passed to the Turks; it was returned to Greece in 1881. It saw heavy fighting between Allied and Axis forces in 1941.
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Thessaly (Greek: Θεσσαλία , Thessalía — Thessalian: Πετθαλια Petthalia) is one of the 13 peripheries of Greece, and is further sub-divided into 4 prefectures. The capital of the periphery and traditional geographical region (and until 1987 official) is Larissa. Together with the regions of Macedonia and Thrace, it is often referred to unofficially as Northern Greece. The periphery lies in central Greece and borders Macedonia on the north, Epirus on the west, Sterea Hellas or Central Greece on the south and the Aegean Sea on the east. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey.
Its geography consists of a ring of mountains surrounding a central plain: Trikala and Larissa lowlands. It has a distinct summer and winter season, with summer rains augmenting the fertility of the plains. This has led to Thessaly occasionally being called the breadbasket of Greece.
The region is well delineated by topographical boundaries. The Khásia and Cambunian mountains lie to the north, the mount Olympus massif to the northeast. To the west lies the Pindus mountain range, to the southeast the coastal ranges of Óssa and Pelion.
Several tributaries of the Pineios river flow through the region.
There are a number of highways E75 and the main railway from Athens to Thessaloniki (Salonika) crosses Thessaly. The region is directly linked to the rest of Europe through International Airport of Central Greece located in Nea Anchialos in a small distance from Volos and Larisa. Until today charter flights links the region and brings tourists to the wider area, mainly in Pelion and Meteora. The new infrastructure includes a brand new terminal ready to serve 1500 passengers per hour and new airlanes.
Thessaly was home to an extensive Neolithic culture around 2500 BC. Mycenaean settlements have also been discovered, for example at the sites of Iolcos, Dimini and Sesklo (near Volos). Later, in ancient Greek times, the lowlands of Thessaly became the home of baronial families, such as the Aleuads of Larissa or the Scopads of Crannon. These baronial families organized a federation across the Thessaly region, later went on to control the Amphictyonic League in northern Greece. The Thessalians were renowned for their cavalry.
During the Greco-Persian wars (499 BC to 448 BC) the Aleuads joined the Persians. Jason of Pherae briefly transformed the country into a significant military power, though he was assassinated before any lasting achievements were made. In the 4th century BC Thessaly became dependent on Macedon and many served as vassals. In 148 BC the Romans formally incorporated Thessaly into the province of Macedonia, though in 300 AD Thessaly was made a separate province with its capital at Larissa. It remained as a part of the east Roman empire until the 13th century, when large portions were controlled by Vlach herdsmen (see Great Wallachia). In the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade Thessaly fell under the control of the Kingdom of Thessalonica, but in 1215 was conquered again by Theodore Komnenos Doukas and became one of the independent territories governed by that family. The dynasty ended in 1318 and was followed by a period of Byzantine and Serbian domination. After another period of independence, Thessaly was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1394. In 1881 the Ottoman Empire ceded most of Thessaly to Greece. Ottomans occupied again the region during Greco-Turkish War (1897) shortly and took small portions of it in 1897.