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Archaeological Site of Demetrias

Last Update: Nov 2013
Archaeological site, Cultural heritage DIMITRIAS , MAGNESSIA , GREECE
Tel.: +30 24210 88091, 25285, 28563 , Fax: +30 24210 28563

Archaeological Site of Demetrias - Overview

   Demetrias 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, Asia Minor, the islands of the Aegean Sea and southern 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 walls
   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 painted grave stelai
   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 gravestones 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, rosettes, etc.
The Heroon
   The Heroon, a building above the Theatre is considered to have been a temple by Ap. Arvanitopoulos or the mausoleum of its founder.
The Theatre
   The Theatre 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 permanently abandoned.
The Aqueduct
   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 was supported.
The Anaktoron
   The Anaktoron (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 marble.
   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.

Archaeological Site of Demetrias - Map

Executives & Departments

  • Archaeological service:, Tel.: 24210 76455, 24210 76278, Fax: 24210 76496
    13th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities, Volos

Principals / HQ / participations...

Activities / facilities / services / specialization

Archaeological site

Art & culture

Visiting Information • By appointment
Ancient city  
Cemetery • Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC • Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324
Ancient monuments • Mosaics / Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324 • Palace / Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC • Baths / Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324 • Walls / Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC • Houses / Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC / Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324 • Theatre / Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC • Aqueduct / Roman period, 31 BC-AD 324 • Temples / Hellenistic period, 323-31 BC
Ancient sanctuary • Sanctuary of Artemis • Sanctuary of Cybele

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