General Information on Viotia
The prefecture of Viotia is situated north of Attica. It is a wonderful destination in Central Greece and the Parnassos region. Mountains offer the perfect ski setting during winter, and are ideal for trekking during spring, while during summer, there are lovely coastal resorts along the Corinthian Gulf, perfect for relaxing. Combining the rocky slopes of the mountains and the crystal waters of the coast, Viotia is the perfect combination of natural elements. It is also the perfect place to venture from and explore nearby counties, such as Fokida and Fthiotida.
The capital city of the Prefecture is Livadia, built between two hills, and very fertile thanks to abundant water and the 2 springs known in mythology as “Lethe" (forgetfulness) and “Mnemosyne” (memory). The city is the economic and trading centre of the area, and was built on the left hand side of the dried lake of Copaida. The River Erkinas passes through Livadia. On the north side of the city you can see Parnassos and Elikonas. The capital city of Viotia is surrounded by archaeological sites, such as Heronia, Orhomenos, Thebes, and Delphi. In the city, there is also one of the four Catalan castles, and the Trofonion castle, one of the five most important oracles of antiquity. Traditional ways of life and scenery provide an extraordinary beauty and colour. In addition, due to its location, right at the centre of Greece, it is a good base to explore the region.
History of Viotia
In Greek mythology, Viotia played a prominent part, as it includes two legendary centres; Thebes, with its Cadmean population, a military stronghold; and Orchomenos, the home of the Minyae, an enterprising commercial city.
Viotia had significant political importance, owing to its position on the north shore of the Corinthian Gulf, extending westwards between Thessaly and Peloponnese to the Isthmus of Corinth. The region was also called “tristhalatto” (three-seas) because of its position. The inhabitants were legendarily dull, despite a few great Viotians like Pindar, Hesiod, Epaminondas, Pelopidas and Plutarch. The importance of the legendary Minyae has been confirmed by its archaeological remains.
It is almost certain that the inhabitants of Viotia entered the region from the north, possibly some time before the Dorian invasion. Soon, the people who lived here before the Minyae were absorbed by these immigrants. In historical times, the leading city of Viotia was Thebes, whose central position and military strength made it a suitable capital; other major towns were Orchomenos and Plataea. The Thebans had the ambition to absorb other townships into a single state, just as Athens had annexed the Attic communities. However, the outlying cities successfully resisted this policy, and only allowed the formation of a loose federation which, initially, was religious in nature. Because of the constant struggle between the Viotian cities, their development was compromised.
Viotia is not prominent in history before the late 6th century BC. During the Persian invasion of 480 BC, Thebes assisted the invaders. In consequence, the presidency of the Viotian League was taken from Thebes, but in 457 BC the Spartans reinstated the city as a bulwark against Athenian aggression after the Battle of Tanagra. Athens retaliated with a sudden advance against Viotia, and took control of the whole country except the capital, Thebes. The land remained under Athenian control until 447 BC when the people revolted and regained their independence. In the Peloponnesian War, the Viotians fought against Athens. Around 424 BC, the Viotian League comprised eleven groups of sovereign cities and associated townships, each electing one Viorarch or minister of war and foreign affairs, contributing to the federal council at Thebes with sixty delegates, and supplying the federal army. Viotia took a prominent part in the war of the Corinthian League against Sparta, especially at Haliartus and the Battle of Coronea. This change of policy probably happened because of national resentment against foreign interference. In 374 BC Pelopidas managed to restore the Theban dominion and their control was never significantly challenged again until the Battle of Cheronia, after which the land never prospered again. The destruction of Thebes by Alexander the Great (335 BC) seems to have removed the political energy of the Viotians. They never pursued an independent policy, but followed the lead of protecting powers. Though enrolled in the Aetolian League for a short time, Viotia was generally loyal to Macedon, and supported its later kings against Rome.
Rome dissolved the league, which, however, was revived under Augustus, and merged with other central Greek federations in the Achaean synod. The final blow to the prosperity of the area was the destructive First Mithridatic War.
Towns & Villages in Viotia
Thebes (Thiva): Thebes is the second biggest city of Viotia. Built in a fertile, low-lying region, it is situated 45km from Livadia. The city is archaeologically very interesting and worth a visit. According to legend, this is the place where Hercules was born. Apart from being the homeland of myths and heroes, the city also gave birth to extraordinary men like poet Pindar, the generals Epaminondas and Pelopidas, and others.
There are many ancient ruins in Thebes, the oldest dating back to 2500 BC. The city was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 338 BC after the battle of Heronia. It was rebuilt by Cassandros in 316 BC. While in Thebes, take the time to visit the archaeological museum of the city, as well as the temple of “Ismenios Apollo”. Using Thebes as a base, one can visit Platees, Lefktra, the sanctuary of Kabeirians, the Mycenean Acropolis Gla or Goulas on Mt. Ptoon, Tanagra, renowned for its terracotta figurines, Vathi Avlidas, Faros and Dilessi.
Arahova: Arahova is a small mountain town, located in the western part of the prefecture of Viotia, 35km from the capital city, Livadia. This town is one of the most beautiful and thus one of the most popular winter resorts in Greece. Despite the increasing number of visitors this city is barely touched by modern development. At an altitude of 940 m, its quaint houses are built up the slopes of Mt. Parnassos. Most of the skiers, novice or experienced, spend their night here, as well as travellers to Delphi. However if you happen to visit Arahova, in spring, you should attend the huge celebration on St. George’s day on 23 April. The feast lasts three days and includes men dressed in local costumes followed by feasting on roast lamb.
Distomo: Distomo is a small town and a municipality in the Viotia Prefecture which played an important role in the Revolution of 1821. The settlement has a very nice beach, important archaeological finds and an interesting museum. While here, don’t neglect to pay a visit to the Byzantine monastery of Ossios Loukas, just 10km east of the city. The mosaics and frescoes of the church date back to the 11th century and are among the finest in Greece.
Antikyra: This is a small community in the Viotia Prefecture, 36km from Livadia. The settlement has an amazing organized beach with crystal clear waters. The village is quiet and small but it attracts many Greeks, especially from nearby cities, during summer months.
Weather in Viotia
Viotia’s climate ranges from hot summers to mild-to-cool winters. However, the northern and eastern part are often more likely to experience cloudy days. Harsh winter conditions are very common in areas higher than 1,000m and summer here is a little cooler than in the low-lying areas of the prefecture.
Top 10 Destinations in Viotia
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Map of Viotia