Ancient Pherai Thessaly today known as "Velestinon"

Volos and surrounding area map19 km from Volos at the Trikalla/Larissa railway junction lies ancient Pherai which was one of the great cities of Thessaly in the 4th century BC.

A tragedy of Euripides and an opera by Gluck were both inspired by the story of Admetus, whose legendary home was here, and whose wife Alcestis sacrificed her life for him.

Famous leaders of Thessaly during its heyday, when it tried to dominate not only Thessaly but to interfere with the rest of Greece as well, were Jason, who was Tagus of Thessaly in 374BC and assassinated in 370BC, his successor Alexander, who was defeated by the Theban general Pelopidas, and Lykophron II, driven out in 352BC by Philip of Macedon.

Antiochus the Great too captured the city too in 191BC but it was recaptured by the Romans under Blario almost immediately.

click to see larger map MacedoniaThe Greek Archaeological Service explored the site in 1920 and 1923, and again, in collaboration with the French School, in 1925-6.

The ancient acropolis sits on a plateau, trapezoidal in shape, where the remains of the Larissan Gate and of a Temple of Hercules are found.

Traces of the ancient walls are near the church of the Panayhia, and walls and towers were also discovered on the hill of Aghios Athanasios.

Pherai was noted for two fountains, Hypereia and Messeis. The former in the historic city of Velestinon, the basin and conduit covered with tiles.

A Doric Temple of Zeus Thaulios was found on the Larissa road, which was rebuilt in the 14th century with columns from an earlier temple, in turn built on top of an ancient cemetery. A 49km long Hellenistic stoa was found in 1983; Archaic bronzes taken to Athens and Geometric pottery to Volos.