A panoramic view of Lamia, taken from the castle
|Administrative region:||Central Greece|
|Population statistics (as of 2011)|
|- Area:||942.9 km2 (364 sq mi)|
|- Density:||80 /km2 (207 /sq mi)|
|- Area:||413.5 km2 (160 sq mi)|
|- Density:||157 /km2 (405 /sq mi)|
|Time zone:||EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)|
|Elevation (center):||50 m (164 ft)|
|Postal code:||351 00|
Lamia (Greek: Λαμία, Lamía, pronounced [laˈmia]) is a city in central Greece. The city dates back to antiquity, and is today the capital of the regional unit of Phthiotis and of the Central Greece region (comprising five regional units).
One account says that the city was named after the mythological figure of Lamia, the daughter of Poseidon, and queen of the Trachineans. Another holds that it is named after the Malians, the inhabitants of the surrounding area. In the Middle Ages, Lamia was called Zetounion (Ζητούνιον), a name first encountered in the 8th Ecumenical Council in 869. It was known as Girton under Frankish rule following the Fourth Crusade and later El Cito when it was controlled by the Catalan Company of mercenaries. In Turkish, it was sometimes called Izdin or İzzeddin. The city was also known as Zeitoun, Ζητούνι (Zitouni), Zirtounion, and Zitonion.
Archaeological excavations have shown the site of Lamia to have been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), but the city was first mentioned after the earthquake of 424 BC, when it was an important Spartan military base.
In Antiquity, the city played an important role due to its strategic location, controlling the narrow coastal plain above Thermopylae that connected southern Greece with Thessaly and the rest of the Balkans. The city was therefore fortified in the 5th century BC, and was contested by the Macedonians, Thessalians and Aetolians until the Roman conquest in the early 2nd century BC. After Alexander the Great's death in 323 BC, the Athenians and other Greeks rebelled against Macedonian overlordship. Antipatros, the regent of Macedon, took refuge behind the substantial walls of the city (Lamian War, 323–322 BC). The war ended with the death of the Athenian general Leosthenes, and the arrival of a 20,000-strong Macedonian army. Lamia prospered afterwards, especially in the 3rd century BC under Aetolian hegemony, which came to an end when Manius Acilius Glabrio sacked the city in 190 BC.
Little is known of the city's history after. In Late Antiquity, the city was the seat of a bishop (attested since 431), suffragan of Larissa, but had declined to obscurity: for instance, it is not shown on the 5th-century Tabula Peutingeriana. Some archaeological remains from the period have been found in the Castle (the city's ancient acropolis), including a basilica, coins and marble inscriptions, while the walls of the Castle are thought to have been rebuilt under Justinian I in the 6th century.
The city was occupied by Slavs in the 7th century, and re-appears only in 869/70 under the name of Zetounion (Ζητοῦνιον), probably deriving from a Slavic word for "grain". The city played once more a role in the Byzantine–Bulgarian wars of the late 10th century due to its vicinity to Thermopylae: it was near the town that the Byzantine general Nikephoros Ouranos scored a crushing victory over Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria in the Battle of Spercheios in 997. In the 12th century, the Jewish traveller Benjamin of Tudela recorded 50 Jewish families in the city.
Following the Fourth Crusade (1204), the city was captured by the Frankish crusaders, who made it the seat of a barony of the Duchy of Athens. The Knights Templar held the city for a time and rebuilt its fortress. In 1218 it was captured by Epirote forces, and was surrendered again to the Franks of Athens in 1275 as a dowry. The Catalans held the city from 1318 until 1391, and then passed to the Acciaioli Dukes of Athens. The fortress was razed by the Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I in 1394. The Byzantines temporarily recovered control of the city in 1403–26, but the Turks recaptured it. From the 1440s on, the town came under firm Ottoman control, remaining so until it became part of the newly independent Kingdom of Greece in 1832. Until the annexation of Thessaly in 1881, it was a border city (the borders were drawn at a site known as "Taratsa" just north of Lamia).
- Lamia Castle, the city's fortified acropolis
- Platia Eleftherias (Freedom Square) - site of the towns independence day parade, and main cathedral. Also has many cafes with outdoor seating.
- Platia Diakou (Diakos Square) - square containing the statue of Athanasios Diakos
- Platia Parkou (Park Square)
- Platia Laou (People's Square) - square featuring the statue of Aris Velouchiotis
The municipality Lamia was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 5 former municipalities, that became municipal units:
- Niki Bakoyianni (1968-) high jumper
- Athanasios Diakos (1788–1821) Greek military commander during the Greek War of Independence, died in Lamia
- Thanos Leivaditis (1934–2005) actor and screenwriter
- Ilias Tsirimokos (1907–1968) politician, former Prime Minister of Greece
- Aris Velouchiotis (nom de guerre οf Athanasios Klaras) (1905–1945) leader of the World War II guerrilla resistance
- Frans Tsagkaris doctor and politician
Lamia is twinned with:
- Panellinios B.C.
- Lamia F.C.
- Lamia Skiing & Climbing Club (XOOL)
- GS Lamia
- Nireas Lamias
- Ionikos Neas Magnisias
- Pamfthiotikos Syllogos Rythmikis Gymnastikis Niki (Rhythmic Gymnastics Club)
- Detailed census results 2011 (Greek)
- Arrowsmith, John. Turkey in Europe. 1832.
- "Κάστρο Λαμίας". ODYSSEUS Portal (in Greek). Hellenic Ministry of Culture. Retrieved 26 July 2012.
- Kazhdan, Alexander (1991). "Lamia". In Kazhdan, Alexander. The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1171. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6.
- Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
- "Serwis informacyjny UM Rzeszów - Informacja o współpracy Rzeszowa z miastami partnerskimi". www.rzeszow.pl. Retrieved 2010-02-02.[dead link]
- Municipality of Lamia (Greek) (English)