Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Easter In Amfissa

Amfissa (Greek: Άμφισσα, [ˈamfisa], mentioned in classical sources as Amphissa) is a town and a former municipality in Phocis, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Delphi, of which it is the seat and a municipal unit. It is also the capital of the regional unit of Phocis. Amfissa was known as Salona (Greek: Σάλωνα, [ˈsalona]) in the Middle Ages.

Amfissa sits on the northern edge of the farmlands of the Crissaean plain, and lies between two mountains; Giona to the west and Parnassus to the east. The town itself is surrounded by an olive forest, and located south of Lamia, northwest of Livadeia and Delphi, 13 km (8 mi) north of the port of Itea, 30 km (19 mi) north of Desfina, northeast of Naupactus and east of Lidoriki. The town has access to Greek National Road 27, and the GR-48 links it to Lidoriki.

It is believed that the name of the city derives from the ancient Greek verb αμφιέννυμι (amfiennymi), meaning 'surround', as it is surrounded by the mountains Giona and Parnassus. In Greek mythology, Amfissa, the daughter of Macar, son of Aeolus, and mistress of the god Apollo, gave her name to the city.

During the Latin occupation in the 13th century a fortress was built above the city, and first it and then the city came to be called Salona.

There are three folk etymologies given for the name, none of which are correct:
  • It derives from the word salos (σάλος), meaning 'shake', as the region was frequently hit by earthquake,
  • It is a comptroller of the word Saloniki (Thessaloniki), after which the king of Thessalonica, Boniface of Montferrat, renamed Amfissa
  • It is a corruption of the term esalona (εσάλωνα), used in agriculture to mean 'inland threshing floor'.
In 1833, the initial name of the city, Amfissa, was brought into use once more.

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, an impressive[says who?] 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 ample opportunities for hiking and camping on the mountains. Amfissa contains several plateias, an odeon, a chorus, a public philharmonic, but is also known for its annual carnival.

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