is situated at a distance of 1,5 km south of the modern town of Volos
The site in which the Hellenistic town was established, dates back to the Neolithic
times. In the peninsula north-east of Demetrias, known as Magoula Pefkakia,
a very important prehistoric site flourished. The prehistoric settlement at
Pefkakia, due to its dominant position, was developed and turned into a commercial
harbour and trading post of utmost importance by means of which the thessalian
main land was able to communicate with areas such as Thrace
, the islands
of the Aegean Sea
Greece, especially in the later phase of the Bronze Age, which is mainly known
as the Mycenaean period
As soon as Demetrios Poliorketes became king of Macedonia in 294
B.C., unified the small villages of the district, with the purpose of creating
an economically and politically powerful town within a strategic site. Demetrios
and his successors used Demetrias
as a base for political interference and military attacks against Thessaly
and Southern Greece. The big prosperity of Demetrias as a commercial and political
centre took place from 217 to 168 B.C. The excavations in Demetrias began at
the end of the 19th century and are still in progress.
Demetrias during the roman era lost its importance, although it
remained the capital of the Union of Magnetes. From the 1st century B.C. it
started to diminish. The greater part of its territory area was abandoned and
its residential nucleus, in the Roman age, lied north of the imaginary straight
line between the theatre and the anaktoron by the sea. In that place the existence
of social and public buildings has been ascertained. Demetrias in the early
Christian period obtained luxurious social buildings and two churches with mosaic
floors and rich architectural decoration, one in the settlement of the northern
harbour known as Basilica of Damokratia, and the second in the south of the
town outside the wall, known as the Cemeterian Basilica.
Demetrias was inhabited until the end of the 6th century - beginning
of the 7th and then was abandoned.
The ancient town was protected by a strong wall built in the pseudo-isodomic
system. It is saved almost in all its perimeter (circ. 11 km) except from a
big part of the north wall by the harbour, which is destroyed. The acropolis
is situated in the NW, in the highest point of the town.
The towers of the east side were repaired and enlarged in a hurry,
probably at the beginning of the 1st century B.C., during the Mithridatic war.
For the above works, the famous painted
carried off from the town cemeteries were used as a building
material, to fill the space created between the old towers and their prolongation.
The mudbricks, which covered them, prevented the influence of humidity and lighting
and created favourable conditions for the maintenance of the colours. The themes
of the paintings were inspired by every day life i.e. the farewell of the dead,
a funeral feast, the embellishment of the dead woman by her servant, the conditions
which caused death, as in the gravestone of Hedisti who died during her childbirth.
Other more rare scenes have to do with warriors, hunters etc. There are also
gravestones painted with a simpler decoration such as red ribbons tied in bow,
The Heroon, a building above the Theatre is considered to have
been a temple by Ap. Arvanitopoulos or the mausoleum of its founder.
was constructed during the first half of the third century B.C. It was repaired
at least four times until the second half of the fourth century, when it was
The huge technical work that was made for the town΄s water supply
is probably a creation of the beginning of the 4th century A.D. The aqueduct
was bringing water to Demetrias from the mountain Pelion
Nowadays, only the pillars still exist, upon which the built irrigation ditch
(palace) was built on a hillock in the eastern section of the town. On the highest
spot of the hill, there is a peristyle courtyard with doric columns, with apartments
on the three sides, while on the northern side stand the workshops of copper
and a big sewerage pipe. The building had two storeys. In its four corners there
are four powerful towers. In the west side of the peristyle two storeys of the
Anaktoron are developed in lower terraces. The walls of the building were decorated
with wall paintings of grey, red, white and yellow colour, which were imitating
From the architectural decoration of the building parts of doric
capitals have been saved, columns and semi-columns made of calcareous limestone
and sandstone, coated with white mortar. There are also earthenware spouts with
lion heads, stamped tiles and other interesting evidence. The Anaktoron was
abandoned approximately in the middle of the 2nd century B.C. That is the end
of the Macedonian domination in Greece, after the death of King Perseus in Pydna
in 167 B.C. by the Romans and the complete domination of the Romans in Greece
in 146 B.C. Part of it was used during the Roman times as a cemetery.
The Sacred Agora
The Sacred Agora (Forum) lies in the south of the Anaktoron and
used to be the administrative centre of the town. In that place the temple of
Artemis Iolkia was also situated.