Some of the most significant Neolithic sites in the whole of the Balkan Peninsula are accumulated in the greater area of Volos. The visitor can tour about 40 Neolithic settlements dating back to the 7th and 8th millennium BC. Sesklo, located 8 kilometres to the west of Volos, and Dimini, 5 kilometres to the north-west, were excavated by Christos Tsountas in the early 20th century. The findings were stunning; inscribed ceramics, an abundance of bone and stone tools, and everyday utensils. The most significant find though, which changed our perception of shipping in Neolithic times, was objects made of obsidian, a material found exclusively on the island of Milos, which proves that sea routes had been opened up earlier than believed. Dimini has been recognized as the administrative centre of early antiquity, the seat of the great kings. The region of Magnesia was particularly prosperous, due to its livestock and agricultural wealth.
Iolcos was founded during the Mycenaean period. Important Mycenaean sites have been located on the hill of Agioi Theodoroi, at the spots known as Palia in Volos and Pefkakia.
During the classical period, in the 6th century BC, Pagases, a coastal town which was the seaport of Ferres, flourished.
Around 293 BC, the Macedonian king Dimitrios Poliorkitis founded the city of Dimitriada on the Volos peninsula that is today known as Pefkakia, to the south of the modern city. Dimitriada was to become the Macedonian king’s great military and trading centre. The city was built according to the Hippodamian system and had strong fortifications and exceptional buildings, such as the palace, the agora and the theatre. Tombstones that have been discovered provide a wealth of information on the financial and cultural life of the city. Also important was nearby Anchialos.
After 1204, the region passed into the hands of the renowned Byzantine family, Melissinos. The name of the city was first encountered as ‘Volos’ in documents dating from the14th century AD.
The Ottoman and modern history of the city is equally important, as portrayed in its many monuments and museums.