Volos is the newest of the Greek port cities, with a large proportion of modern buildings erected following the catastrophic earthquakes of 1955. It includes the municipal units of Volos, Nea Ionia and Iolkos, as well as smaller suburban communities. The economy of the city is based on manufacturing, trade, services and tourism. Home to the University of Thessaly, the city also offers facilities for conferences, exhibitions and major sporting, cultural and scientific events. Volos participated in the 2004 Olympic Games, and the city has since played host to other athletic events, such as the European Athletic Championships. Volos hosted the 7th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics from 27 July to 5 August 2013.
Built at the innermost point of the Pagasetic Gulf and at the foot of Mount Pilio (Pelion, the land of the Centaurs). The city spreads in the plain on the foothills of Mount Pelion, bordering the town of Agria to the east and Nea Anchialos to the south west. Volos' municipality includes both towns, along with many nearby villages, including Makrinitsa and Portaria.
Volos is a major commercial port of mainland Greece in the Aegean sea (after Piraeus and Thessaloniki), with connection by ferry and hydrofoil to the nearby Sporades Islands, which include Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos. There are also connections to Limnos, Lesvos, Chios and Skyros.
Modern Volos is built on the area of the ancient cities of Demetrias, Pagasae and Iolcos. Demetrias was established by Demetrius Poliorcetes, King of Macedon. Iolkos, Iolcos or Iolcus, was the homeland of mythological hero Jason, who boarded the ship Argo accompanied by the Argonauts and sailed in quest of the Golden Fleece to Colchis. To the west of Volos lie the Neolithic settlements of Dimini, with a ruined acropolis, walls, and two beehive tombs dating to between 4000-1200 BC, Sesklo, with the remains of the oldest acropolis in Greece (6000 BC), and also the foundations of a palace and mansions, among its most characteristic examples of Neolithic civilisation.
During the course of the 8th century, mainland Greece was subjected to numerous Bulgarian raids. At the end of the century, a large scale Bulgarian military expedition headed by the chieftain Akamir was launched from Belasica. The Bulgarians plundered Thessalia, from their encampment which was located between modern day Volos and Velestino. The Byzantines called those Bulgarians Velegizitas or Vielesti. Volos, Velestino, Zagora and many other placenames in Magnesia originate from that period and are of Slavic origin. The first reference to Golos (Greek: "Γόλος") comes from a Byzantine document dated to 1333, while Volos appears to be a later corruption of the term. Golos probably originated from the Slavic word gološ 'seat of administration', or perhaps from gol bald, naked, as the area has sparse vegetation. Two alternative theories allude to a Greek origin through the words βολή (throw), as fishermen threw their nets into the sea from that area, and βώλος (piece of land). In the 14 century Volos came under the control of Serbia, subsequent conquest by the Republic of Venice and the Catalans led to a large drop in the local population.
Volos was held by the Ottoman Empire from 1393–1397 and the in 1403, and finally conquered in 1423. The Ottoman name of the city was قلز "Quluz"; it marked the southern border of the Vilayet-i Rumeli-i Şarki. Later, it was a center of a kaza in the Sanjak of Tirhala, which was part of Jannina Vilayet.
Since the early stages of the Greek Revolution, the provisional government of Greece claimed Volos as part of Greek national territory, but the Treaty of Constantinople (1832), which established a Greek independent state, set its northern boundary between Arta and Volos.
Volos is a relatively new city, beginning its strongest growth in the mid-19th century. The locality of its castle was previously known as Golos by Ottomans and locals, while Ano Volos was known as Gkolos..
After its incorporation into the Greek Kingdom from the Ottoman Empire in 1881, the town had a population of only 4,900, but grew rapidly in the next four decades as merchants, businessmen, craftsmen and sailors gravitated toward it from the surrounding area. In the 1920s a large influx of refugees to the settlement took place, especially from Ionia, but also from Pontus, Cappadocia and Eastern Thrace. In 1882, Andreas Syngros established the Privileged Bank of Epirus and Thessaly, which the National Bank of Greece acquired in 1899 after its founder's death. Volos was occupied by Ottomans on 8 May 1897, during the Greco Turkish War.
The city had a vibrant Jewish community in the early 20th century: from ca. 500 in 1896, it rose to ca. 2,000 in 1930, before falling drastically to 882 members in 1940, because of emigration to the great cities of Thessaloniki and Athens or abroad. During the Axis occupation of Greece, the prompt actions of the local chief rabbi, Moshe Pessach, and the Greek authorities, saved about 700 of the local Jewish community from deportation to the Nazi death camps.
Volos is also well known for its assortment of mezedes and a clear, alcoholic beverage known as tsipouro.
A street in a sister city, Rostov-on-Don, bears the name Улица Греческого Города Волос (Street of the Greek City of Volos), weaving through a mix of early 20th century buildings with characteristic inner yards, tiered balconies and open iron stairs that lend the old Rostov its characteristic Mediterranean look.
The municipality Volos was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 9 former municipalities, that became municipal units:
The municipality has an area of 385.614 km2, the municipal unit 27.678 km2.
The province of Volos (Greek: Επαρχία Βόλου) was one of the provinces of the Magnesia Prefecture. Its territory corresponded with that of the current municipalities Volos, Rigas Feraios, South Pelion and Zagora-Mouresi. It was abolished in 2006.
Volos is the administrative centre of the Magnesia regional unit. Many of the city domains are separated through natural barricades, such as rivers.
Three main rivers/mountain torrents all rise from mount Pelion (with its peak at 1,610 metres (5,280 feet)), crossing the city to create a unique urban geography, before ending in the Pagasetic Gulf flowing west. The Anavros river, famous for Jason's pass, divides the Nea Demetriada district from the rest of the urban area. Krausidonas is the major river passing through the city, and constitutes the natural lung of the urbanized area of Volos, as well as the boundary between the major municipalities of the metropolitan city, the municipalities of Volos and Nea Ionia. Xirias (Ξηριάς), is the largest torrent of the metropolitan urban area of Volos, and passes through the Nea Ionia municipal area.
Volos, having a Mediterranean climate, typically experiences neither particularly high nor extremely low temperatures throughout the year. Its climate is one of a low humidity, favourable for all kinds of activities. The Pelion mountain, with its own microclimate, affects the city's weather.
Volos used to have plenty of old mansions, the majority of which was destroyed after the earthquakes in 1955. Nowadays, only some of them have been saved, restored and have a new, mainly public, use.
The development of the new city coincided with the flourishing of neoclassicism. Public buildings conformed to this style and prestigious private buildings belonging to prosperous merchants were particularly sophisticated. Typical examples include:
The city of Volos consists the administrative and academic centre of University of Thessaly, which was founded in 1984 and consists the most important centre of education in central Greece. The faculties of Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences and Agricultural Sciences with twelve Departments are based in Volos, enforcing the academic, economic and cultural development of the city. The faculties are located in different places in the city. “Pedion Areos” Campus is used by the Departments of the School of Engineering, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences is located in the centre of the city, thus the School of Agricultural Sciences is based in a renovated building in Fytoko. In addition to Greek students, the city and the University attract many foreign students via Erasmus and other programmes.
Moreover, in the city there are 56 kindergartens, 51 primary schools, 18 junior high schools and 13 senior high schools.
Volos is one of the most industrialized provincial cities of Greece, because of its strategic location between the largest population centers of the country (Athens - Thessaloníki) and its port. Industry is intensely specialized in steel production and manufacturing. Three major steel producers (METKA, SIDENOR and Hellenic Steel Industry (Ελληνική Χαλυβουργία)) have production facilities in the industrial areas of Volos and nearby Almyros. AGET - Hraklis, a member of the Lafarge group, operates one of the largest cement facilities in the world (with capacity exceeding 7,000,000 tn) with its own private port, next to the city. Volos is also active in the research sector, hosting the Institute of Bio-Economy and Agri-Technology (iBO), one of the five Institutes of the Center for Research and Technology – Hellas (CERTH).
The port that lies upon ancient Iolkos where one of the most legendary sea. Here, at the safe port of the Pagasitikos bay, Jason built his trireme, Argo, and along with his oarsmen set course for Colhis bringing back and getting married to priestess Medea. The new port was founded in 1893 and was the most significant element for the industrial development of the area. Today, Volos has the 3rd largest cargo port in Greece (after Piraeus and Thessaloniki), carrying agricultural and industrial products. In the past there was connection with Tartus in Syria.
Ferries and flying dolphins operate daily connecting Volos to Magnesia islands, Sporades (Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos). Moreover, many cruise ships use the port of Volos as a destination. During the summers of 2015 and 2016, more than 100 cruises arrived in Volos, carrying more than 100.000 visitors.
The wider region of Volos is a place with great history, finding the first signals of culture in the Neolithic period. In the villages Sesklo and Dimini have been discovered the first findings of Neolithic culture in Europe.
Moreover, close to Volos there are the ancient Dimitrias, a town that was built by Dimitrios Poliorkitis in 294-2 AC. Today, the ancient theater of Dimitrias is saved. There are also the archaeological region of Goritsa hill, findings of Old-Christian period in Nea Anchialos and the wall of the old castle of Volos that someone can visit.
Volos consists a city with various greek trades, as the industrial development and the port conducted many people move in the city. The industrial and financial evolution of the city conducted in a cultural and social evolution too. In 1894, Volos acquired its Municipal Theater and in 1896 the Volos Gymnastic Club. In 1908, in Volos was founded the first Labor Union in Greece. After 1922 with the Asia Minor Catastrophe, Volos received a large amount of people coming from the destroyed regions. This coexistence with the locals influenced deeply the culture of the city, making this influence visible in the food, music, sports, entertainment and social life of the city. Nowadays, there is a plenty of museums and galleries spread in the city, but also in the wide region. Moreover, Volos consists one of the most attractive and touristic cities in Greece because of its physical attributes combining the Pagasetic Gulf with the Mount Pelion. Volos is a candidate city for the European Capital of Culture in 2021.
One of the main characteristics and touristic specialities of Volos is the traditional drink tsipouro and the sea food that is served accompanying the drink.
Local specialities include:
Volos, taking advantage of its physical attributes by the sea, has a significant presence in Greek sport history in racing rowing (sport) and sailing (sport). Furthermore, Volos has two closed and one open swimming pools, presenting a long history in swimming and water polo. Moreover, Volos has many clubs and facilities in several sport such as football, basketball, volleyball, tennis. The most popular clubs, with great offer in sport and cultural history of the city and significant successes in football, are Olympiakos Volou and Niki Volou. The main clubs of Volos are shown below.
Volos uses to be one of the five cities that hosted the 2004 Summer Olympics.
Volos after 2004, has hosted in its facilities significant sports events such as 27th European Championship of Artistic Gymnastics in 2006, the FIBA Europeaan Championship of Young Men (2015) when Greece acquired the gold medal and the Final of Greek Football Cup in 2017.
All land transport reaches Volos, while the International Airport of Central Greece in Nea Anchialos links the city to international destinations, and the Port of Volos provides links to the islands, mostly the Sporades, as well as to some destinations in Pilio.
Volos is linked through Greece's E75 Highway Axis (most often known as PATHE) with Northern and Southern Greece. Beyond this, the Axis E65 will be the gateway to Western Greece and the port of Igoumenitsa, through the plains of inner Thessaly; this part of the E65 motorway will be completed by 2012.
The city of Volos, along with the rest of Central Greece, is linked to the rest of Greece and Europe by the Nea Anchialos National Airport. The airport has the second longest commercial runway in Greece after Eleftherios Venizelos.
Volos is the first city in Europe to feature Seaplane Services through Argo Airways, which is based in Volos. The seaplanes connect Volos with Skiathos, Skopelos, Allonisos, Athens and Thessaloniki.
Volos' railway station building was designed by Evaristo De Chirico soon after the liberation of Central Greece. Part of the station still functions in this picturesque 1884 structure, reminiscent of a stately home to some. The adjacent neoclassical building, built between 1900 and 1903 under Evaristo De Chirico, served as the administrative headquarters of the Thessaly Railways.
Today, the city is served by direct lines to the rest of Greece, and the railway complex houses facilities for train maintenance. Volos is directly linked with Athens once per day, with Thessaloniki twice per day, and with Larissa 15 times a day. In the past Volos was served by railway lines of three different gauges, the metre gauge line of Thessaly Railways to Kalampaka, the standard gauge line to Larissa and the 600 mm (1 ft 11 5⁄8 in) gauge line to Pelion. Remnants of triple gauge lines still exist near the station. Currently, the Pelion railway line operates for touristic reasons every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday from mid-April to the end of October. The train runs every day during July and August.