Amfissa dates back to antiquity, with its history spanning around 3,000 years, and has been traditionally the largest and capital city of Phocis. It was the most important city of the ancient Greek tribe of the Ozolian Locrians and one of the most powerful cities in Central Greece. In the Middle Ages, Amfissa came to be known as Salona. It declined after several foreign conquests and destructions, but emerged as an important city in the region and played a major role during the Greek War of Independence.
Origin of the name
It is believed that the name Άμφισσα (Amfissa) derives from the
This section needs additional citations for verification. (November 2022)
Amfissa has been settled since the ancient times and was the chief town of Ozolian Locris, a region inhabited by the ancient Greek tribe of Locrians; the largest and most renowned town of Locris, beautifully constructed and located one hundred and twenty stades away from Delphi.
Recent excavations have revealed a Mycenaean tomb in Amfissa, preliminary findings indicate that the tomb was in use for more than two centuries, from the 13th to the 11th century B.C.
Findings of several excavations revealed that the town had developed its commerce with Corinth and towns of the northwestern Peloponnese at the end of the 8th century BC. Amfissa was organised as polis in the 7th century BC and flourished in arts and trade, which lasted for three centuries. Parts of the walls of the ancient acropolis of the town date back between the 7th and the 6th century BC. In 653 BC, people from Amfissa migrated to Southern Italy and founded the town of Epizephyrian Locri. Amfissa's calendar differed from that of the other Ozolian towns, while four of the months' names known are Argestyon, Panigyrion, Amon and Pokios. Its coins had the head of Apollo on the one side, and the inscription "ΑΜΦΙΣΣΕΩΝ" (Amfissians'), a spear-head and a jaw-bone of Calydonian boar, and either a star or grapes on the other.
Following the Greek defeat by the
In 426 BC, Spartan general
As a result, the Amfissians and the rest of Locrians, along with the Thebans, attacked Phocis, and the Phocians, in turn, appealed to their ally, Sparta. These conflicts led to the Corinthian War, with the Amfissians on the side of Athens, Argos, Corinth and Thebes.
In 338 BC, Philip attacked and destroyed Amfissa, expelling large parts of its population and giving the area to Delphi, which is known as the Fourth Sacred War. Later in the same year, under the motivation of
The Amfissians managed to rebuild their town and give to it its former power, but in 322 BC it was sieged by Alexander of
The Amfissians, being confident for the power of their acropolis and their walls, defended the city, but the fall of Amfissa to the superior forces of the Romans was likely to happen. Then, Manius Acilius was replaced by
In the period between 174 and 160 BC, Amfissa had been damaged several times during the hostilities which took place between the pro-Roman Aetolians and the nationalists of the town. When
In the early Middle Ages, Amfissa was devastated by several foreign peoples who invaded Greece, like the Visigoths under Alaric I and the Huns. In 451, the town probably had an episcopical seat and in 530, Justinian I fortified the towns around the Crissaean plain and fixed the fortress of Amfissa. Hierocles in his Synecdemus mentions Amfissa as one of the towns of the eparchy of Hellas within the Byzantine Empire, which was under the rule of the vice-consul of Athens.
Since the middle of the 9th century, new invaders, the Bulgars, raided the region of Phocis and sieged Amfissa several times, but the most damaging was in 996, when Samuel of Bulgaria destroyed the town and slaughtered its people. in 1059, Pechenegs besieged Amfissa one more time and forced the Amfissians to hide in caves of the region to avoid a massacre. In 1147 the Normans arrived to the Crissaean plain but left Amfissa unspoilt, maybe due to the town's decline.
In 1205, after the
Ottoman era and the Greek War of Independence
The region of Salona was conquered by the Ottomans in 1394. In 1580, a huge earthquake destroyed several towns in Phocis, including Salona. After a period of Venetian rule from 1687 to 1697, Salona devolved to the Ottomans again; several foreign travellers visited the town, which had about 6,000 inhabitants at the time. Salona had lost the former splendor and nothing was left to remind the glorious past of ancient Amfissa, so as some of the visitors misbelieved that it was the town of ancient Delphi or Kirra. In the 18th century, Salona became the center of preparations for the war against the Ottoman Turks in Central Greece, due to its strategic location and its proximity to the klephts of Giona and Parnassus mountains.
In the Greek War of Independence, Salona was the first town of Central Greece to revolt under the leadership of Panourgias, Giannis Diovouniotis, Ioannis Gouras and its bishop Isaiah, who were in cooperation with Athanasios Diakos, Yannis Makriyannis and others originated from Phocis. On 27 March 1821, Panourgias invaded the town and on April 10 the Greeks captured the Castle of Salona, the first fortress which fell in Greek hands, and extinguished the six hundred people of the Ottoman garrison in it.
On 15–20 November 1821, a council was held in Salona, where the main local notables and military chiefs participated. Under the direction of Theodoros Negris, they set down a proto-constitution for the region, the "Legal Order of Eastern Continental Greece" (Νομική Διάταξις της Ανατολικής Χέρσου Ελλάδος), and established a governing council, the Areopagus of Eastern Continental Greece, composed of 71 notables from Eastern Greece, Thessaly and Macedonia. Salona became the capital of Eastern Continental Greece and the regime existed until the Ottoman recapture of East Greece in 1825.
Culture and sites of interest
Much of the town's culture is the result of private legacies left to it; some of the benefactors were Markidis, Giagtzis and Stallos. Landmarks include the Castle of Salona, also known as the Castle of Oria, where the ancient acropolis stood, the Archaeological Museum of Amfissa, the Annunciation Cathedral with its murals by Spyros Papaloukas, several smaller museums and the district of Charmaina where the traditional bells are produced. The Municipal Library of Amfissa, which was founded in 1957, hosts, apart from its large number of books, a collection of traditional paintings of Phocis.
Other older sites are the Byzantine Savior Church, built in the 11th century, the paleochristian baptistery of the 3rd century next to the Cathedral, Lykotrypa which is a Mycenaean tomb on the eastern edge of the town and the Folklore Museum of Amfissa. There are also a TEI (Technological Educational Institute) affiliated to the TEI of Lamia, an IEK and a lyceum.
There are ample opportunities for hiking and camping on the mountains. Amfissa contains several
|Year||City population||Municipality population|
Amfissa has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate.
|Climate data for Amfissa (168m)|
|Average high °C (°F)||12.3
|Average low °C (°F)||2.2
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||134
|Source: http://penteli.meteo.gr/stations/amfissa/ (2019 – 2020 averages)|
- Christos Karouzos, archaeologist
- "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών 2011. ΜΟΝΙΜΟΣ Πληθυσμός" (in Greek). Hellenic Statistical Authority.
- "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-21.
- "Untouched Mycenaean Tomb Found in Central Greece".
- "Locris". Forum Ancient Coins. Retrieved 8 May 2008.
- "Hieroclis Synekdemos (Guide)". soltdm.com. Archived from the original on 2007-09-21. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- Archaeological Museum of Amfissa (in English)
- Official website (in Greek)
- Official website of Phocis regional unit (in Greek and English)
- Petros Kalonaros, History of Amfissa, 1997