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Atalanti

Atalanti (Greek: Αταλάντη Atalantē) is a town and a former municipality in southeastern Phthiotis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lokroi, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. Atalanti is a known market town, and it was the capital of the former Locris Province. Atalanti is the second largest town in Phthiotis, after Lamia. The town is accessed with the Greek National Road 1 (Athens – Lamia – Thessaloniki). Atalanti is located southeast of Lamia, north of Livadeia and northwest of Chalcis.

Mythology
Capital of Locris province was the city of Opus. According to Hesiodus and Plutarch, the city of Opus got his name from Opus, who was the son of Locros and great-grandson of Deucalion and Pyrrha. The Locrians from Opus participated in the Trojan War, with 40 battle ships and four thousand warriors. Head of Locrians at the Trojan War was Ajax the Lesser, son of Oileus and grandson of Hodoedocus. Ajax excelled in the Trojan War, but upon his return from Troy he fell into a storm that caused him his inglorious death. From Opus was Achilles’ best friend, Patroclus, son of Menoetius. Patroclus, when he was still a child, killed a nobleman during a game, Clysonymus, son of Amphidamas. Although he was a minor, Patroclus had to leave his place in order to evade revenge. So his father took him to Peleus, who raised him along with Achilles as his own child.

History
Neolithic Age
The first signs of organized human life in Atalanti’s region can be traced during Neolithic era (7000 BC – 3200/3100 BC) when in this time a town in the valley, near Skala Atalanti is growing. All human activities of Neolithic man can be traced in this area: agriculture, stockbreeding, hunting, and fishing.
Bronze Age
In Bronze Age (or Early Helladic Period, in Greek: Πρωτοελλαδική περίοδος) period (3200 -2100 BC) observed growth of trade (both land and sea) and development of pottery. The area of Atalanti was influenced by other places of mainland Greece and the islands. This area, as well as others of this period, was characterized by a hierarchically organized society.
In the Middle Helladic period (in Greek: Μεσοελλαδική περίοδος) (2100 – 1600 BC) villages were destroyed (possibly due to the invasion of other Greek tribes). Because of this, retrograssion, introversion and cultural isolation were noted.
Most possibly in Late Bronze Age (or Late Helladic Period, in Greek: Υστεροελλαδική περίοδος) (between 1600 and 1100 BC) the city of Mycenaean Opus is built. Main occupations of inhabitants were fishing and agriculture (wheat, grain, legumes, olives, grapes are cultivated and wine is produced). During the 11th century BC (Sub Mycenaean period) an economic and population decline is remarked. An abandonment of old villages is accompanied by building new ones. Basic characteristic of this period is the adherence to tradition. Pottery remains the main occupation.
Protogeometric Period
Between 10th and 8th century BC, the regime of Opus is Aristocracy and Oligarchy. Hierarchy is one of the key features of society in that time. It is a society where classes owe their existence primarily to the distinguishment between the different occupations of the inhabitants. Trade and shipping are growing. Opus receives many influences in art from Athens, Corinth, Euboea and Thessaly. A massive production of vases and the blooming of metallurgy (weapons and gold jewelry) are recorded. All these suggest the existence of a prosperous and wealthy society in the region of Locris.
Archaic Period
During the Archaic period (700 – 480 BC) the system of government in Opus remains oligarchy with no political controversy. Perhaps we can speak of a “conservative democracy” since there were no slaves in Locris. The main occupations of the inhabitants are still agriculture, livestock (mainly cattle), fishing, pottery and wine production.
Classical period
In the Classical Period (second quarter of 5th century BC – 323 BC) and more specifically during the Peloponnesian War (431 – 404 BC) the Locrians are in the side of Sparta (leader of the Peloponnesian League). The Athenians attack and destroy the coastal cities of Locris. In 431 BC they fortify the island of Atalanti (or Atalantonisi or Talantonisi) in order to curb the activities of Locrians pirates and to ensure the safety of the coast of Euboea. But an earthquake in 426 BC destroyed part of the walls and the fortress that were built in Atalantonisi.
Hellenistic and Roman Period
During Hellenistic period (336 or 323 BC – middle of 1st century BC) a new earthquake in 300 BC destroys part of Opus. In 204 BC, the Roman general Gaius Flaminius seizes Opus, but in 197 BC he gives back independence to the Locrians. In 165 BC, the “Common of Locris” is founded. Another earthquake in 106 BC destroys Opus, but it is rebuilt again. The end of the Hellenistic period seals the raid of Sulla (Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix) in the area in 87/86 BC. Throughout this period Opus remains a mainly rural economy. At the same time, Atalanti is the main center of pottery production in the district. The invasion of Sulla prompted many residents of the cities of Locris to abandon their villages during the Roman period (30 BC – 324 AD). Population mostly moves to the settlements of Opus and Kynos. In the area, large privately owned land (farms) are created. In Atalanti, public baths and an aqueduct are built.
Early Christian Period
During the Early Christian Times, the Diocess of Opus is founded (Ecumenical Synod or Council in Ephesus in 431 and in Chalcedon in 451 under the Diocese of Corinth. In years 376 and 395-397 Goths and Visigoths invade (under Alaric I) in the area which seriously affects the local economy. Regression and in some cases abandonment of coastal settlements occurs.
Byzantine Period
In 565 (during the Byzantine years of Justinian I) the name “Talanti” was first mentioned. Sources between 7th and 10th century are few because of the “Iconoclasm” that had broken out in this period. In the 9th century Arabs raids in the area and in the 10th century and Bulgarians (under Simeon I of Bulgaria) also attack Locris. In 1204, the “Barony Atalanti” [3] was founded from the Frankish ruler Boniface of Montferrat as a part of the Duchy of Athens and one of the four major ports, and it was based in Talanti (La Calandri). The 13th century Atalanti is found with the Latin name «Talantum». The management of the area is according to the feudal patterns of the time as a small city-state. In 1311, the Duchy of Athens fell into the hands of Catalans mercenaries (Catalan Company) after the victorious battle of Copais. In 1319, the Duchy fell into the hands of the Sicilians. In 1380, Navarians make raids against the Catalans of Atalanti. In 1385, the provenance of Phthiotis fell into the hands of the Serbs, except Atalanti. In 1388, the region of Locris passed into the hands of a family from Florence, Acciaioli, ending the Catalan domination. In 1393, the Diocese of Talanti was established in Talanti (Atalanti). The same year the Turkish people begin their raids. The Duchy of Athens was abolished by the Ottoman Turks in 1458, and that lead to the enslavement of Atalanti and all Locris in general.
Ottoman Occupation
According to the census of 1466, in Atalanti live 248 families, 18 single and 22 widows, which all were Christians. In the census of 1506, there were 449 Christian homes and 13 Ottoman. In 1521 were recorded 435 Christian homes in Atalanti [4] and 30 Ottoman, while the total taxes paid by residents were 33,541 “aspra” – whites (silver Ottoman coin). The residents of Atalanti did not pay any taxes, while their children were free from the mass forced recruiting of children in the Ottoman army, in order to join the Janissaries (in Greek:Παιδομάζομα, in Turkish: devşirme). In return, the inhabitants of Atalanti had to protect the narrow sea and the coast when pirates attack [5] with their 7 armed horsemen.
These privileges were maintained by residents of Atalanti up until 1571. According to the census of that year there were 622 Christian homes in Atalanti and 77 Ottomans. That made it the largest settlement across Locris, with a population of about 3000 people. This also explains the upgrading of Atalanti which during the next century included the surrounding villages. Main occupations of the inhabitants were agriculture (cereals, viticulture), cultivation of flax, cotton and vegetables, as well as the apiaries and livestock.
In 1688, during the Ottoman–Venetian war, Kourmas and Bishop of Amfissa Philotheos temporarily seized Atalanti. The same year, plague breaks out in Atalanti. The Turks reclaimed the city in a short time. Several families [6] -in fear of retaliation, resort in the Venetian Peloponnese between 1691 and 1697. Knowledge about the period of the 18th and early 19th century is limited and it is mostly based on reports by that time travelers.
One of them, William Martin Leake visited Atalanti in 1805 and he wrote: “There are 300 houses in the town, one third of which is Turkish. Some of the houses are big and surrounded by a garden. They seem very pretty from a far distance. But most of them are abandoned and ruined, partly because of a plague that wiped out entire families a few years ago. The ruler is Isset Bey, a son of Kapicilar Kahyasi of Ali Pasha. The Greek neighborhood is separated from the Turkish. The Bishop of Atalanti which comes under the Bishop of Athens is the head of the Greek community and has a sustainable house, with a garden of orange, lemon and other fruit trees. A garden, that despite of its ferocity, is the best place here, something extraordinary in that area. The valley is very fertile, but not cultivated, because of the absence of people. In low parts of the area, towards the sea, corn, excellent wheat, grapes from which they make a tolerable wine and a few olives grow perfectly. The average wage here is the same as that one in Athens and Livadeia. The administrative area includes thirty to forty villages, most of them very small, and not fully inhabitant, since most of their residents migrate to areas of Livadeia and Athens, since Ali Pasha took over the place. Incomes are now in the hands of Veli, who is trying to bring back immigrants, promising tax cuts.” [7] Another traveler, the French Francois Pouqueville (between 1806 and 1816) reports: “Atalanti is built on the foothills of Mount Chlomos. Two mosques and a church are the only remarkable things you can see. The importance of the city is that twenty one villages depend on it.”
According to other sources [10] in 1800 in Talanti (Atalanti) lived more than 200 families of Ottomans in their own settlement (in Greek: Τουρκομαχαλάς, Tourkomachala) in the western part of town. There were also located the Turkish ruler of the area (Voivodas), the Turkish treasurer (Khaznadar-Agha), the Turkish judge (Kadis or Katis) and a small Turkish guarδ (about 150 men).
Kotzampasides (Greek people that worked together with the Ottomans) of Talanti were: Lambros Alexandrou (later renamed Evmolpidis), Constantinos Sakellion and Alexis Michalis.
Nicolaos Metaxas or Neophytos of Athens was ordained Bishop of Talanti in 1803.
Since 1810 in Atalanti the Ottoman doctor Hasan Agha Kourtalis offers his services to both Greeks and Ottomans without any discrimination.
Atalanti during the Greek Revolution of 1821
In 1821, Anthony Kontosopoulos with 1000 armed Locrians sieged and set free the city of Atalanti on March 31, 1821 with the help of Lambros Eleftheriou and the rest of the residents of the city.
In the winter of that same year, the Turkish army under the Omer Vrioni and Mehmet Kiosses passing through Atalanti take prisoners the remaining inhabitants and burn down all the houses. Those who managed to survive find shelter in Atalantonisi. The next year, Atalanti will be burned again by the Turkish troops that were passing through the region and a plague will fall on Atalantonisi.
In the Second National Assembly at Astros in 1823 Bishop Neophytos of Talanti and attorney Lambros Alexandrou represent the area. Provincial Governor of Talanti was placed Ioannis Filon. In 1824 the Turkish fleet occupies Atalantonisi, destroying its facilities, slaughters and captures those who had taken refuge there.
Between 5th and November 9, 1826 the Battle of Atalanti takes place. Anastasios Karatassos, Angelis Gatsos and Olivier Voutier lead 1500 Macedonians warriors. But Mustafa Bey went from Livadeia to Atalanti with an army of few thousand men (infantry and horsemen) and surprises the Greek guards. After a fierce battle, the Greeks retreated having lost 42 men on the battlefield.
In Atalanti were located gunpowder storehouses of vital importance for the supply of the Turks. They were guarded by two hundred Ottomans.
In 1826 Georgios Karaiskakis’s attempt to set it on fire failed. The next year Karaiskakis placed a guard with his men, in Atalanti, under Spyros Xidis. Another attempt by Ioannis Kolettis in 1827, to take over Atalanti will also fail. The final liberation of Atalanti came on November 6th , 1828. Mitros Liakopoulos (from Kato Milia, Pieria), attacks surprisingly and releases the city.
Atalanti after Liberation
In Atalanti in 1831 were founded: a Primary School (first teacher was D. Manasidis from Samos), a County court, a Notary, Tax Authorities, Fund, a Tobacco Factory, Customs, Forestry and Post Office.
In 1833 the city was included in the prefecture of Phocis and Locris. First Prefect was Ioannis Amvrosiadis and District Officer was Anagnostis Mostras. A Diocese of Locris is established (from the dioceses of Mendenitsa and Talanti), under Bishop Agathangelos Myrianthousis. That same year Macedonians fighters, fought during the revolution of 1821 start to settle permanently in Atalanti.
On January 10th, 1834 was established by Law the City of Atalanti, including outside the Atalanti, the villages: Skala, Skenteraga (Megaplatanos), Kyparissi, Kolaka, Bogdanos, Exarchos and Drouskos. First elected mayor in 1836 was Efstathios Spyridonos.
In December 1836 arrives at Atalanti Konstantinos D. Vellios, a benefactor of the Macedonians settlers. While in 1837 is decided by Royal Decree to form the Municipality of “Pella” in Atalanti for the Macedonians settlers.
In 1843 Greek School was founded (Boarding) and in 1857 a Primary School for Girls. In 1855 the Cathedral of St. Theodore was founded in Atalanti and in 1862 the Church of the Transfiguration of Jesus was finished. In 1860 7 large fountains were built in the neighborhoods of Atalanti and New Pella.
In 1864 begun the annual trade “Fair” of Atalanti which lasts from the 6th to 10 August, until nowadays.
In 1871 the road between Atalanti and Scala is constructed. In 1873 a branch of National Bank of Greece was founded. The “Revolution of Litochoro” (Revolution of Olympus) in 1878, was led by the Macedonian Kosmas Doumpiotis, who had by his side several fellow volunteers from New Pella Atalanti.
In 1885 oil lamps for lighting the city were installed and an aqueduct is built.
Nicholas K. Abraham was born in 1888 in New Pella. He served as a Minister of Justice and Maritime Affairs.
The earthquake of 1894 caused major damages throughout Locris. 255 people were killed and 3,783 houses were totally collapsed.
At the time sericulture was at its peak in many households in Atalanti.
In 1895 the “Locris Gymnastics Club of Atalanti» was founded, one of the first clubs in the country and also one of the 28 clubs that founded the S.E.A.G.S. later S.E.G.A.S.
Nicholas Doumpiotis (born in 1866 in New Pella) participated in the Macedonian War (1904–1908) as an officer under the nickname “Captain Amyntas.”

Tourism – Sightseeing – Cultural Activities
Among other Points of Interest of the region are: The catacomb of St. Athanasius or “Chamaithanasis” in the center of town is a Roman crypt. It is said that during the Turkish occupation it was used as a secret school (Krifo scholio). In the background of the catacomb there is the St. Athanasius Church.
The church of St. Seraphim is located in the forest above the town of Atalanti.
The monastery of St. Anargiri, built in the 17th century, located in the main road from Atalanti to Kirtoni.
The chapel of St. John the Roda, built in a location on the top of mountain Roda.
The archaeological museum of Atalanti was inaugurated in the summer of 1998 by the City of Atalanti, the 14th Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities at the expense of the municipality of Atalanti, the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and some other donors. It is a relatively small but a very important premise as it is a neoclassical building which it used to be the old high school in the area. The exhibits came from the region of Locris and they are divided according to chronological and thematic sections that they cover the prehistoric and historic period up until Roman times. In the museum and at the museum’s courtyard visitors can see tombstones, pottery for everyday use, tools, jewelry, idols, etc.
Just 6 km from Atalanti and by the sea is the port of Skala Atalanti, with many fish restaurants, cafes and bars. Skala is one of the most beautiful sandy beaches in Locris. It is the main beach of Atalanti and is located just 6 km from the city. The beach is relatively long and wide and well organized. Also along the beach there are playgrounds and a beach volley and a tennis court. It even has water sports. The beach is full of restaurants. It is important to mention that in Skala is located the port authority. In the area there are the churches of Analipsi and of Panagia. The beach of Skala from 1980’s until today receives the Blue Flag.
The Atalanti Lagoon is located south of the bay of Atalanti. It is a shallow coastal lagoon that is separated from the sea with a dividing strip and communicates with it through an opening.

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