In case the map doesn’t appear or the language change didn’t work, please refresh the page and try again. After the map, there are also texts about important concepts from our printed map, that didn’t fit in the virtual version below.
In case the map doesn’t appear or the language change didn’t work, please refresh the page and try again. After the map, there are also texts about important concepts from our printed map, that didn’t fit in the virtual version below.
This map of Larissa was designed in 2022 by the MAKE USE team.
It is addressed to those who don’t know Larissa (travellers and passers-by), as well as to its citizens, offering both a different perspective of the city. The map includes parks, squares, sidewalks, historical sites, monuments and buildings, murals and bridges. It helps us to get to know the public spaces of the city, the places to which we all have – or should – have access. It suggests some ways of public space usage that align with principles of respecting, caring, interacting democratically and coexisting. If you happen to find a MAKE USE kit along with the map, use it and enjoy the public spaces of the city, leaving them a bit cleaner than how you found them.
The map also includes various experiences and suggestions for the public space, proposing a different approach to make us realize that in Larissa – where we live and interact – we become a daily part of human history which spans of 8,000 years. Our research allowed to learn about the travelling/stray stones, a concept which impacted the map’s design, under the title “Rolling Stones”. The Larissa we see today is built on top of other cities and ages. Some elements of such ages can be spotted before us, such as the Ancient Theatre and the Bezesteni on the Frourio Hill.
The majority, however, remains well hidden under the feet of passers-by, some completely ignored, some reused as building materials. Everything we can see around us today is part of the city’s history, fragments, large or small, with memories and experience much longer than the duration of human life. We invite you to share this perspective for Larissa with us; to approach its materials as if they were travellers in time and space; to view the city as something with a soul, waiting to be discovered by each one of us.
The map contains places and routes that we young people have given them a special meaning at this period. They are where we gather, meet, express ourselves and where we leave our own traces and create our own stories. Everything on the map lies not further than 40 minutes on foot from the city center. If you’re passing through the city and want to meet us, real or imaginary, follow the routes we suggest and the activities that are suitable for each season. In the summer, Larissa gets hot, and the weather even in urban spaces, is described with the local expression of carkabila, which means intense heat under the summer sun. Still, we, the locals don’t just sit home. We know what to do and where to cool off. During winter, the humidity gets bone-deep, but that doesn’t get us down. We hope it doesn’t get you either.
The map has been printed in 1000 copies. We took precaution to create it with environmentally-friendly materials, and it would be a waste to use it once and discard it in a bin. Instead, after you’re done with it, we suggest you leave it in good condition, in a safe place to be used by the next person.
On the back cover of the printed map, you can find a QR code. Scan it with your mobile phone and you’ll get yourself this digital version of the map hosted on our official website www.makeuse.gr. This way you can have access to all the information that is here and more that will be added or could not be included in the printed map.
Public space was not always a given. During the Ottoman era, the courtyards of the churches were the equivalent of today’s public space for Christians. That’s where they met on every occasion and developed an important part of their collective identity. The outdoor or open markets also played the same role, bringing together the residents and visitors of the city, regardless of their cultural identity. In modern times, especially in Larissa, the numerous squares and parks serve the same need. In many cases, the public space is used by private businesses. In Larissa you can encounter many cafés that, with their tables and seats on squares and footpaths shape how public space is used and include the residents in a debate that sometimes goes unnoticed. Public space – as a concept – is not a given even today.
The use of public space and its characteristics depend on the seasons and different times of the day, the age and cultural groups that use it, whether it is located in a residential area, in the center or on the outskirts of the city.
There you can find agreement, coexistence and separation, intimacy and alienation, inequality and solidarity, social negotiation, all at the same time. Public space, if you listen carefully, narrates all these human stories.
People grow emotionally attached to places and, when this happens, they mobilize to defend their space. Early in the morning, squares tend to be a meeting point for elderly people. As the day progresses, some pedestrian streets are filled with small tables and residents who meet there, developing or strengthening social relationships. In large parks you can meet people who take their companion animals out and share a relatively common culture, new parents with pre-school children and people who exercise either by improvising or using public exercise equipment. From the afternoon and on, parks, squares and pedestrian streets become the meeting place of younger people. Sounds, colors and vibes change. Sometimes the unwritten rules change based on the characteristics and needs of each group. In recent years, the integration process of immigrants and refugees has been visualized primarily in public spaces. The necessary familiarity with the different, with the “other” takes place there first and is an indicator of how progressive or conservative a city is. You may hear many people say that Larissa is a conservative city, but we should not ignore that it has been a cultural melting pot throughout the ages. This contradiction makes the city even more interesting. Today, public space accessibility is also an important stake that will shape the character of the city in the near future and will be a benchmark for comparison with other cities in Greece and abroad*. This is how the collective identity is created based on the space, which combines both local and globalized culture.
The management and negotiation of public space is an important political issue. When public space is ignored, it loses its political potential. Collectivities lose their home and the possibility to equally co-shape the present and the future.
Our map presents a public space that we also want to be ours, that we need to claim every day against any use that does not agree with the public interest and the inclusion of all of us. We present a public space that, by (re)acknowledging it and giving it meaning, can set off rethinking and collective action.
* In these public buildings-points of the map there are accessible toilets (15, 20, 21, 31, 35, 43, 47, 49, 56, 66, 67, 68). The list is not complete, as it is based on our personal research.
How would you react if we told you that the Rolling Stones were always in Larissa? And no, we don’t mean the renowned rock and roll band, but what our team called in Greek “Planites Lithoi” (Planetes Lethe pronounces phonetically; or spolia, if you want to Google it). What does this mean?
For better or worse, in the Plain of Thessaly, materials like marble and stone were limited, especially in the past. Therefore, whatever kind of stone was found was used and then used again. In other words, the very city seemed to be used over and over again, as the same materials changed their function, a process that is visible to this day. Indeed, the city of Larissa is built in layers and who knows what else we might discover under our feet.
Let’s map it out. There was an ancient quarry in the area of Agia (about thirty kilometers from Larissa) from which marble was used for the Ancient Theatre A’. For the construction of Ancient Theater B’s hollow, however, the marble did not come from there, but from an older building. How do we know this? At some parts, there are inscriptions about slaves being liberated from that building and they have nothing to do with the theater. Moving on to the Romans wanting to build roads and walls. What did they use of course? Stone and marble from ancient theaters and temples. Perhaps these same materials changed hands, with the Byzantines demolishing ancient temples to build their own temples, baths and cemeteries, while the Ottomans completed this destruction of such ancient elements, but also of Christian churches. An important example of Ottoman architecture is the Bezesteni, this stone building on Frourio Hill. Do you know what they find buried inside? Marble bits and statues from ancient temples, which were used as support beams and pieces in the construction of the Bezesteni. Keep in mind that the central bridge of Pineios, every time it was demolished, was rebuilt in the same place with the same materials. Nothing goes to waste.
So, what’s going on in town? Does every point, tile and stone of Larissa really have its own life and history, serving us today with their own unique time? Therefore, why not show the necessary respect to every part of the city, which has been created to serve us? And, if we generalize all of this, could it be applicable to every aspect of our every day, with more awareness of our actions and our impact on the identity and wellbeing of our city? If we participate responsibly in the flow of the city, that flow will continue to exist and we will be part of it.
The Name and a tidbit of history
The name Larissa (a word of pre-Greek, Pelasgian origin) means a strongly fortified hill, while also having the meaning of a citadel. The first mythological version of the name is attributed the hero Larisos, son of Pelasgos, who built the city. The second version centers around the nymph Larissa, who gave her name to the city, after she slipped and drowned in the Pineios river. The location of the city has been continuously inhabited since the Neolithic era (6th millennium) until today. Of the six prehistoric settlements located within the boundaries of the modern city, the “Frourio” Hill, the ancient acropolis, is inhabited since early Bronze Age (early 3rd millennium BC) continuously throughout all subsequent historical periods.
What do we do, when we are in a completely unknown place? How do we know, listen, understand and familiarize ourselves with a foreign neighborhood, a foreign city, a foreign country? We consider roaming a city’s streets to be an important stage of this process for many reasons. One of these reasons is that we will basically run into… walls! But what do the walls of a city have to tell us?
Spotless walls, walls full of murals, tagged walls, walls polluted with swastikas, walls full of information. How do walls welcome visitors? How are walls “read” depending on who you are and how is the contemporary socio-historical context reflected in them?
The meaning of public space is in a sense under negotiation. Public space is shaped by the people who use it and is potentially a field of conflict and confrontation for its meaning. So, the walls that are part of it, are aware receivers of social conditions and what is imprinted on them can be understood, not simply as an image (which may or may not be to our liking), but also as a performance. Graffiti, tagging, street art, “smudges”… Popular, communal, political… Stating a presence, attempting to address, claiming space for expression, protesting or simply venting. Which of these bothers us? What do we dub as “wall-pollution”? Can profane gestures be taken as a demand for inclusion in city life? Legal or illegal? Art or vandalism? Two opposite sides that arise in social terms and are understood in different ways by everyone.
We suggest, therefore, that you wander as a “flâneur”* in the streets of the city and observe what the walls have to say. For anything that impresses you, raises questions for you, or you may see that it repeats itself, but you don’t know what it’s about, ask a local! Probably in this way you will learn things that you would not discover otherwise… As “flaneurie” is a creative attitude towards the world and a flaneur knows that the streets are not just for crossing them and that the walls have something to say…
* P.S. flaneur (the “stroller”): A term introduced by Charles Baudelaire that refers to walking and wandering (“dérive”, as the Situationists described it) as an artistic practice.
With a city flat like Larissa, it’s a shame not to walk around it and explore all nooks and crannies. Strolls in the squares, on the banks of the Pineios river, routes among the street art… everything has something for any taste in city streets, sidewalks and parks.
During the pandemic, since we had no other way out than walking, we discovered alternative routes, both inside and outside the city center. Even if they don’t appear on the map, don’t worry. We offer the general direction and let you find beautiful places in turn, with a little more walking or cycling. After all, in recent years, Larissa has turned into as a bicycle-friendly city, promoting its use and shaping a respective culture. On the central bridge of the Pineios river, in fact, the “Cyclists” artwork highlights the value of the bicycle in our daily commutes.
A day in Neapoli: Museums, parks and… souvlaki
Start your walk from the Diachronic Museum, which is located on the Mezourlo hill. 450 acres of greenery for walking, exercising and picnicking. Take a walk to reflect on what you saw in the museum and, if you are interested in art, continue to the Municipal Art Gallery of Larissa – Katsigra Museum (10′ on foot). Is it summer? Stop for a swim at the Neapoli Municipal Pool. Or continue to Chatzichalar Park, another open green space, with playgrounds, sport courts and a skate park, a favorite spot for families and the city’s youth. And, since you’ll certainly have worked up an appetite, after all that, in Neapoli square you will find traditional souvlaki, grills, pizzerias and many cafes. If you find yourself in Neapoli on a Saturday morning, visit the public market next to the square, it is the largest in the city!
Murals of the city
Starting from Anthimou Gazi str. you can see the work “Synthesis ’21”, inspired by the painting “Politeia” by Aginor Asteriadis, an important painter from Larissa (the original work is in the Municipal Gallery, so don’t forget to visit it!). Before you cross the street, on the wall of the 4th Primary School, the city honors Takis Tloupas, a very important photographer of the city who captured faces and moments of Thessaly, traveling on his vespa. High up on Papanastasiou Street, look for the “Unknown Youth”, a work based on a bust probably from the 4th century BC. Passing by the Ancient Theater, you will see a mural for the poet Tasos Livaditis, while two more large projects are being created in the city (as we’re writing this text), “Riverside” under the Alkazar bridge and “Prosperita” at the Mill of Pappas. Finally, in the two hospitals of the city there are large murals, one dedicated to Hippocrates (Larissa’s University General Hospital), shortly after the Diachronic Museum, and the other (Larissa General Hospital) connecting the hospital with the “environment” and the city of Larissa.
Ennio Morricone Route
Ennio Morricone. An Italian name that may sound out of place for Larissa. But, here’s the twist! The Greek Cultural Association of Friends of Ennio Morricone’s Music is perhaps the only one in the world that honors the Italian composer, with his great contribution to world cinema, with events, tributes, and even murals.
On Manolaki Street, if you look up you will see his portrait, as well as on the opposite building, before the entrance to the basement of an apartment building that houses an ancient water tank. On Skylosofou street, near the ancient theater, there is another work from this association for Ennio Morricone, which depicts two Italian anarchists, Sacco and Vanzetti, from the titular film, with Morricone’s music. Finally, another mural at Megalou Alexandrou Street is dedicated to the film “Cinema Paradiso”, a film by Giuseppe Tornatore, accompanied by Morricone’s music.
September’s here, summer’s gone and the city is ready for a fresh start as the seasons change! In the last week of September, the largest trade fair of Thessaly awaits you, which here we call “Pazari” (Bazaar), and is located in the Neapolis covered market. You can find anything you want, like clothing, accessories, household items, etc. Keep in mind: the first day opens with a big concert! Before you leave, don’t forget to try the unique Farsala Halva!
September is also full of festivals, such as the Anti-Racism Festival in Central Square and the Mill of Performing Arts. Theatrical, dance and musical performances, screenings, open workshops and performing arts sessions, with local, Greek and international artists Greece are an occasion to meet and fill the Mill of Pappas and other places in the city full of culture and art.
October 28th: National holiday
A lot of humidity and bitter cold are the ingredients for a winter in Larissa. It is a time when Larissa is bustling, and you are likely to notice that the city has its own schedule. Morning, afternoon, evening, it’s very lively, with at noon the city stops, in need for a midday rest. If you want to live like the locals, you must go out, especially on Saturday, starting with a coffee and then for food or even better, for tsipouro, a locally distilled alcoholic spirit. After all, the people of Larissa are known for their love of coffee and tsipouro! Winter is, at the same time, the right time for being cozy and catching a movie. No need to stay in. Instead, we suggest you visit the Cinema Club movie screenings at the Hatziyianeo. If you happen to be in Larissa around Christmas, then you will also discover the “Wishes’ Park” in the Alcazar Park. And, of course, don’t miss New Year’s Eve on the Frourio Hill, where we light and shoot lanterns into the sky, and the year changes with music and fireworks! At the same time, in the Central Square under the tree, which lights up our Christmas for at least 30 years, there is a Nativity scene with figures and dolls from the Doll Museum of the Tiritoba Municipal Puppetry.
Before saying goodbye to winter, we have the Carnival! In Larissa, in recent years, the final Sunday before the Lent, a very old custom revives, the ” Boolookia”. With different starting points – neighborhoods, singing and dancing, the Boolookia (roaming crowds of musicians and dancers) make a stop at Tachydromeon Square and finish at Central Square, where a big traditional Carnival party is set. Until they reach the Central Square, at the stops that are made along footpaths and squares, dances are performed and old customs are relived (eloping with the bride, maypole, the “camel”, etc.).
The season everything blooms and that’s why we suggest that you head right out into Larissa’s parks and squares! In the city center you can take a walk in the two most famous squares of the city (Central Square and Tachydromeon Square). Walk or cycle along the Pineios, while someone more athletic, you can work out using the outdoor fitness equipment. Don’t miss the Garden Theater and the Aesthetic Grove. Finally, if you are in the Neapolis area, definitely visit Chatzichalar Park. It’s friendly to you, pets and kids.
On cool spring evenings Larissa’s young people like to sit in the area of the Ancient Theater. After all, spring is the season of motion: bears wake up from hibernation, swallows and storks arrive, and people in Larissa slowly move towards the Frourio Hill.
March 25: National Holiday
May 15: Saint Achillios Day – Patron Saint of Larissa
Can you cook eggs on the sidewalk? If that’s what it feels like, then it’s summertime and you’re in Larissa. Here even the word heat is changed to carkabila! If you are looking to cool off, then head for the Frourio Hill. Between 13:00 and 17:00 do what everyone in Larissa does: hole up and do not move outside. In the late afternoon the river, the Frourio Hill, but also the squares and the footpaths, will be filled again with people cruising for a drink. Usually that drink includes beers from kiosks and hanging in front of the Ancient Theater, the Frourio Square or at the steps of Saint Achillios church, the “port” of Larissa (ask the locals). The municipal pool in Neapoli is another cool idea.
In June, the city hosts the Pineios Festival, with multi-day cultural events on the river bank. On June 21st, the Festival hosts the European Music Day, with concerts on 3 different stages and free entry. That’s all you need to catch the city’s summer vibe.
Anyone for watching a movie under the summer night sky? During the summer months, the town’s open-air cinema operates in the Mill of Pappas with international films right under the stars.
All Year Round
1. Youth & Lifelong Learning Festival (Municipal Youth Council of Larissa)
2. LA Comics Festival (Project Ippokampos)
3. Farmer’s markets:
At Train Station (OSE): Tuesday
Square of Sotiris Skipis: Wednesday
Larissa’s river is called Pineios, as an old folk song goes. Stemming from the myth of the river god with the same name, where the nymph Larissa drowned, it allowed the creation of an increasingly growing settlement in the area, which could rely on the river for all its water needs throughout the millennia. People could live, cultivate the fertile lands and grow. So many activities were inextricably linked to the river Pineios. For this reason, the city of Larissa over the ages extended on both its banks, in order to utilize this force of nature, while bridges connected parts of the city.
The Sculpted River
Pineios, as you might have come to understand, was essential in the development of the city. Along with urban growth over the years, came technological development, which made the river seem overlooked. Then, urban landscape sculptor Nella Golanda came and intervened in the city squares, creating the “The Sculpted River”. This project begins from Tachydromeon Square, initially suggesting the birth of Pineios in the Pindos Mountain Range, with the use of stones that seem incongruous, but are pieces of stone reused throughout history. Its second part emphasizes the relationship of land and water and its historical significance. The waterflow continues underground, to reach the third and final part of the work in the Central Square, where we have the representation of the river’s flattest part, where the flow is the calmest, but also the waters shine day and night alike. Do you know where this sculpture leads? In the then newly discovered Ancient Theatre A’, making the connection and reminder of the city’s past stronger. But she didn’t stop there. If you walk on the sidewalks right by the Ancient Theater, you will spot some black designs that are not so random. The sculptor came up with a way of depicting the floor plans of buildings that are buried underground, not only from the Classical or Byzantine times, but even from the Neolithic period. Just take a moment to take in all the cultures right under our feet and all the ways to be reminded of them!