Nea Anchialos

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Nea Anchialos
Νέα Αγχίαλος
Panoramic View from the hills surrounding Nea Anchialos
Panoramic View from the hills surrounding Nea Anchialos
Nea Anchialos is located in Greece
Nea Anchialos
Nea Anchialos
Coordinates: 39°16′N 22°49′E / 39.267°N 22.817°E / 39.267; 22.817Coordinates: 39°16′N 22°49′E / 39.267°N 22.817°E / 39.267; 22.817
Country Greece
Administrative region Thessaly
Regional unit Magnesia
Municipality Volos
 • Municipal unit 80.462 km2 (31.067 sq mi)
Highest elevation 5 m (16 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
Population (2001)[1]
 • Municipal unit 7,411
 • Municipal unit density 92/km2 (240/sq mi)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 • Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 374 00
Area code(s) 24280
Vehicle registration ΒΟ

Nea Anchialos (Greek: Νέα Αγχίαλος) is a town and a former municipality in Magnesia, Thessaly, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Volos, of which it is a municipal unit.[2] It is situated southwest of Volos and north of Almyros, on the coast of the Pagasetic Gulf. It is placed on the national highway Athens-Lamia-Volos. To the west-northwest it is surrounded by picturesque little hills. The whole area is 31 square kilometers and its population 7,411 people.

View of Anchialos from the Pagasetic Gulf



Basilica A of Phthiotic Thebes

The modern town is built on the ruins of the ancient city of Pyrasos (Πύρασος),[3] and is associated with the nearby city of Thessalian or Phthiotic Thebes (Θῆβαι Φθιώτιδες/Θεσσαλικαἰ), near the modern village of Mikrothivai.[4][5]

Homer mentions Pyrasos in his list of ships (Iliad B.695) together with Phylake and Itona, which belonged to the kingdom of Protesilaus. According to Strabo (IX.435), who discusses its topography, "well-harboured Pyrasos" (εὑλίμενος Πύρασος) was 20 stadia from Phthiotic Thebes.

Pyrasos is scarcely known from historical sources, except that it was an active harbour and featured a famous temple of Demeter and Kore, after which the harbour was later known as Demetrion.[3] The only excavation which took place on the hill of Magoula, the old acropolis, southeast of Nea Anchialos, proves that the site was peopled since the earliest Neolithic period (6th millennium BC) by fishermen and agriculturalists. Archaeologically, the remains of Pyrasos are scant, and the city is barely known in historical times. An arm from an oversized statue, which came into light in 1965, was attributed to Demeter. Possibly the most identical finding is a small fragment of an ancient epigraph, discovered in the debris of the big Basilica D with the name Pyrasos, confirming the location of the city.

In the late 4th century BC, Pyrasos was joined (synoecism) with the neighbouring cities of Phylake and Phthiotic Thebes. The new conurbation took the name of Phthiotic or Thessalian Thebes, and became the main city of the Phthiotic Achaean League until it joined the Aetolian League in the late 3rd century BC.[5] Professor John Grainger of the University of Birmingham concluded, from evidence relating to the election of men from Thebes to office in the Aetolian League, that the city became a member of the League in the 220s BCE.[6]

Until the construction of Demetrias by the Macedonians, the city was also the main harbour on the Pagasetic Gulf. As a bastion of the Aetolians, it was besieged and captured by Philip V of Macedon in 217 BC. The inhabitants were enslaved, and the city became a Macedonian colony.[5][7] Polybius tells how Philip laid siege to the city, first building three camps and then joining them up with lines of circumvallation. Though initially the city offered determined resistance the citizens surrendered when a section of the wall that Philip had mined collapsed.[8]

Following Philip's defeat by the Roman Republic in the Second Macedonian War, in 189 BC Phthiotic Thebes again became capital of the restored Phthiotic Achaean League. Under the Roman Empire, the city was moved from the inland site of the old Phthiotic Thebes back to Pyrasos. The old site was not abandoned, but for the remainder of the city's existence, its centre lay at the site of Pyrasos, where the harbour was also located.[5] In Late Antiquity, it became part of the province of Thessalia, of which it was the third-most important city and main harbour. The city's prosperity from the 4th through the 6th centuries is attested by the number of its Early Christian monuments, but was brought to an end in a great fire in the late 7th century that destroyed the city. The city was rebuilt and apparently continued to be of some note in the early Byzantine period—its bishop is last mentioned in the 8th/9th century—but never recovered and was eventually eclipsed by the nearby port city of Halmyros.[4]

Archaeological remains[edit]

According to the Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, "Nea Anchialos is best known because of the many churches excavated there (nine basilicas have been found)". These include:[4]

  • Basilica A, a three-aisled basilica from the late 5th/early 6th century, dedicated to Saint Demetrius, which served as the cathedral church.
  • Basilica B, or "Elpidios Basilica", also dating roughly to the late 5th/early 6th century.
  • Basilica C, also known "Church of the archiereus Peter" based on a mid-6th century inscription, although it dates to the late 4th/early 5th century. It features "elaborate floor mosaics and is part of a vast ecclesiastical complex".
  • Basilica D, a 7th-century cemetery church outside the city walls.

The original acropolis of Phthiotic Thebes was ringed by a Cyclopean wall. The later wall of the lower city is still largely extant, although in a ruined state. It features 40 towers and dates, according to Stählin, to the 4th century BC.[5] Excavations on the acropolis have produced remains dating back to the Stone Age, including the foundations of a 9x12 m Classical-era temple, possibly dedicated to Athena Polias. This in turn was built with material from an earlier temple.[5] In the lower city, the remains of the ancient theatre and a Hellenistic stoa can still be seen.[5] Most of the finds are in the Archaeological Museum of Volos, with a few in the Almyros Museum.[5]

Nea Anchialos[edit]

Nea Anchialos was founded in 1906 by Greeks who fled the Black Sea town of Anchialos (modern Pomorie in Bulgaria) after massive anti-Greek riots, provoked by the Greek-Bulgarian struggle in Macedonia.


  1. ^ De Facto Population of Greece Population and Housing Census of March 18th, 2001 (PDF 39 MB). National Statistical Service of Greece. 2003. 
  2. ^ Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  3. ^ a b M.H. McAllister (1976). "PYRASOS (Nea Anchialos) Thessaly, Greece.". The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites. Princeton University Press. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c Gregory, Timothy E. (1991). "Nea Anchialos". In Kazhdan, Alexander. Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. London and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1446. ISBN 978-0-19-504652-6. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h T.S. MacKay (1976). "PHTHIOTIC THEBES Achaia Phthiotis, Greece". The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites. Princeton University Press. Retrieved 19 February 2014. 
  6. ^ John D. Grainger, The League of the Aitolians (p.239), Brill (1999) ISBN 90-04-10911-0
  7. ^ Getzel M. Cohen, The Hellenistic Settlements in Europe, the Islands, and Asia Minor (p.118), University of California Press (1995) ISBN 0-520-08329-6
  8. ^ Polybius • Histories — Book 5

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