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PELION ALMIROS Almyros History

(The following material was adopted and modified from the book Magnesia: The story of civilization by G. Hourmouziadis, P. Asimakopoulou-Atzaka, and K.A. Makris, A.G. Leventis Foundation, 25, Herodou Atticou, GR-106 74 Athens. Every friend or traveler of Magnesia should read this book!) According to this source

Almyros is barely referred to in the "Modern Geography", where it is described as being a mere "five hours" journey from Volos. In 1838, the settlement was described as being "a Turkish town, situated on the western coast of the Pagasitic Gulf, half an hour journey inland, on the Plain of Krokios, and consisting of some 300 dwellings. It is chiefly inhabited by Turks, with only a few Christian settlers, who cultivate the lands of the Turks residing there".

With the liberation of the region from Ottoman dominion, together with the change in the make up of the population of Almyros, intellectual life in the area began, and this with a flourish. In 1896, upon the initiative of Nikolaos Giannopoulos, the Antiquity Society "Othrys" was established. Numerous archaeological artifacts from the region were gathered together; the resulting collection of antiquities was later forwarded to the small neo-classical building housing the Museum of Almyros. In addition, the bulletin of the Othrys Society was published with a number of interesting articles related to the work of the Society. A series of lectures, not necessarily restricted to archaeological subjects, was organised. With the foundation of the "Athletic Society of Almyros", the region developed a noteworthy athletic movement, with a number of competitors achieving a certain amount of fame in Pan-Hellenic and Balkan athletic meets. The seeds of this development interest in athletic competition were to be found in the "Krokia", games which were organized in the region for years in succession.

The press of Almyros had its own peculiar idiosyncrasies; all of the newspapers published there were extremely small in size, especially that journalistic organ with the banner Mikrion" (Small). This particular newspaper was so small very often certain words were set in an abbreviated form to allow for the publication of the contents of any given story. During the same period, the newspaper "Mikra", also Lilliputian in size, was published in Larisa, but even this journal was not as small as that of Almyros, which justified the title of the tiniest newspaper in the world, measuring as it did a 8 x11 centimeters. Also small in format was the Proodos (Progress), which also carried a philological section, to which contributions were made by such regional writers as A. Koufodimos, T. Krokios, St. Karagiorgis, K. Kalantzi Pagasou, and others, and which also boasted philological notes, a survey of contemporary Greek cultural life, etc.

In 1901, Almyros acquired its own philharmonic orchestra, which would perform every Sunday in the village square. The orchestras program would also include arrangements of demotic or "popular" songs, overtures to operas, and selections from those considered the most worthy masters musical creativity". The orchestra was disbanded with advent of the war of 1912

Following the liberation of the region from Ottoman dominion, there were noteworthy demographic changes in Almyros, especially in terms of the composition of the population. The greater part of the Turkish population left region. Many families of Vlachs, who in the past had annually migrated to the region only to winter there, became permanent residents. In 1907, 1,700 Greek families are recorded to have settled there after having left Eastern Romylia. Of these, some 900 families settled in the neighborhood of Euxeinoupolis, while the remaining 800 families established themselves in the quarter known as Nea Anchialos. Both settlements were built by the Greek state. But the difficulties attending their relocation and settlement and the limited amount of arable land available forced at least half of the newly arrived families to leave the region and seek their fortune elsewhere.

Slowly but surely a rudimentary network of roads was developed in the provinces. Certain of the roads of Almyros were graded and paved, the settlement central square was enlarged and made more amenable to the village residents, and a number of two-store houses were constructed in the region. All of this, of course, was accompanied by the widespread felling of the region timber, and the clearing of large tracts of woodland. The city which had developed by the advent of the Second World War differed greatly from that described by the English traveler Dodwell, who visited the region in 1802, and who wrote: One travels through fertile valleys, and passes under a wide variety of trees, chiefly plane trees and cypress trees, which increase in number along the road... all around providing wondrously pleasing and refreshing shade. The town itself appears almost as though it had been abandoned by its habitants. The Turks comprise the larger part of the population, and there are four mosques in the city .

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