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Lamia – Beautiful City above the Valley of Spercheios River

Lamia is a city in Central Greece. It has a continuous history since antiquity, and is today the capital of Phthiotis and the region of Central Greece.

  1. Where is Lamia Greece?
  2. The Ancient History of Lamia
  3. Mount Oiti in the Pindus Range
  4. Gorgopotamos River
  5. Famous Railway Bridge
Lamia Town, Central Greece

Where is Lamia Greece?

Map of Central Greece with cities and towns
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One source says that the city was named after the mythological figure of Lamia, the daughter of Poseidon, and queen of the Trachineans. Another holds that it is named after the Malians, the inhabitants of the surrounding area.

Lamia, Greece
Lamia – by night

The ancient history of Lamia

Archaeological excavations show that the site of Lamia has been inhabited since at least the Bronze Age (3rd millennium BC), but the city was first mentioned after the earthquake of 424 BC, when it was an important Spartan military base.

The strategic location of Lamia

In antiquity, Lamia played an important role due to its strategic location, controlling the narrow coastal plain that connected southern Greece with Thessaly and the rest of the Balkans. The city was therefore fortified in the 5th century B.C., and was contested by the Macedonians, Thessalians and Aetolians until the Roman conquest in the early 2nd century B.C. After Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C., the Athenians and other Greeks rebelled against Macedonian overlordship. Antipatros, the regent of Macedon, took refuge behind the substantial walls of Lamia (Lamian War, 323–322 BC). The war ended with the death of the Athenian general Leosthenes, and the arrival of a 20,000-strong Macedonian army. Lamia prospered afterwards, especially in the 3rd century B.C. under Aetolian leadership, which came to an end when the Roman consul, Manius Acilius Glabrio sacked the city in 190 BC.

Lamia during the crusading years

The castle of Lamia above the city
Panoramic view of Lamia and the medieval castle above the city

Little is known of the city’s history afterwards. In late antiquity, Lamia was the seat of a bishop, and reappears in 869/870 under the name of Zetouni. Following the fourth crusade (1204), the city was captured by the Frankish crusaders of the Duchy of Athens, who made it the seat of a barony. In 1218 it was captured by Epirote forces, and was surrendered again to the Franks of Athens in 1275 as a dowry. From 1446, the town was under Ottoman control, until it became part of the newly independent Kingdom of Greece in 1832. Until the annexation of Thessaly in 1881, it was a border city (the borders were drawn at a site known as “Taratsa” just north of Lamia).

The open mines in the mountain of Oeta
Mines at the mountain of Oeta, Greece

Mount Oiti – southeastern part of the Pindus range

Oiti is a mountain in southern Phthiotis and northern Phocis. As a southeastern offshoot of the Pindus range, it forms the boundary between the valleys of the rivers Spercheios to the north, the Voetian Cephissus to the southeast and the Mornos to the southwest. It is 2,152 m high. To its east is Mount Kallidromo, which comes close to the sea, leaving only a narrow passage known as the famous pass of Thermopylae. There was also a high pass to the west of Kallidromo leading over into the upper Cephissus valley. Mount Oiti is southwest of Lamia, the nearest large town.
National Park of Oeta

The rail bridge of Gorgopotamos that was blown up by the Greek Resistance during WWII.
The rail bridge of Gorgopotamos

Gorgopotamos river

The Gorgopotamos (Greek: “the rushing river”) is a river in the southern part of Phthiotise not far from the border with Phocis. The river is host to the Ellinopygosteos fish (Pungitius hellenicus).
The Gorgopotamos rises 4 km north of Pavliani and west of Koumaritsi in the Oiti mountains with two streams. The river flows through a barren and a forested area of mixed pine, cedar and spruce trees. It passes under the Athens-Thessaloniki railway line and through nearby villages, then through farmland, and empties into the Spercheios near Ydromilos, 5 km SSW of Lamia and 2 km west of the old highway (GR-3).

Famous railway bridge

The railway bridge over the river is famous for one of the biggest sabotage acts of World War II, “Operation Harling”. A British mission and 150 Greek partisans blew it up on 25 November 1942, cutting off German supplies being transported between Athens and Thessaloniki (mostly headed for Africa). The blast destroyed two of the six piers of the bridge, which have now been replaced with steel girders. The area around the bridge is a monument.