Palamas has been built since ancient times in an interfluvial country, formed by the ancient rivers Apidanos and Onochono and the present-day, as formed, large rivers Fersalitis and Kaletzis. The small town of Palamas is 300 years old and is located north-east of the city of Karditsa, 21 km away from it, on a road leading to Larissa and at an altitude of 95 metres. Palamas was a vast hiding place and shelter for various persecuted people in a very fertile plain, cultivated mostly with cotton, while in the past it was full of swamps with all kinds of native, annual or perennial plants, such as reed, rayon, wicker, paliuri, etc..
Initially, people used to build small, semi-permanent, improvised houses made of reed, creating reed walls covered with rayon. Later, in order to protect themselves from the cold, rain, snow, and winds, women began to “palm” these reed walls with mud from the inside and outside, using their palms as a tool for palming.
It was from the palamization of these improvised reed walls that the name of the small town ‘Palamas’ was derived. This is one of several versions of the origin of the name of the town. According to another version, the origin of the name of Palamas is related to the ancient Greek cult of Palamnios Zeus, in whose honour the Thessalians celebrated the ‘Peloria’, from the name of the giant Pelops, who brought the news that the dams were opened and that the waters of the Thessalian lake began to flow. This view is supported by oral testimony about a coin found in Palamas at the beginning of the century with the words PALAMIDIOS, which must have been either the well-known coin PALAMNIOUDIOS, or some other coin PALAMIOUDIOS.
Palamas is also considered as the birthplace of Panagiotis Palamas, founder of the Palamanian school in Messolonghi and grandfather of the poet and prose author Kostis Palamas.
After 1833 the whole country was divided into prefectures. The communities that existed until then were united into municipalities. The Municipality of Titani (the forerunner of today’s Municipality of Palamas), which existed until 1914, was formed by the Federal Decree of 31 March 1883 (Government Gazette 126) “On the division of the province of Karditsa in the prefecture of Trikala into municipalities”. It was classified in the 2nd class with a population of 6255 inhabitants, the seat of the town of Palamas and the following composition:
The name of the municipality of Titanion comes from Mount Titanion, north of Palamas and from the Titans. The Titans were gods of Greek mythology, representing the violent and mischievous forces of the nature.
In 1917 Venizelos eliminated the municipalities and so was the municipality of Titani. It becomes a municipality again in 1964 and today it is the centre of a wider area known as the Palamas area, inhabited by a pure population, by the well-known inhabitants of the valley, with the historical and folkloric term “Karagounides”.
Typical ethnological and historical elements of the Karagounis are their Thessalian dialect, which is considered the most representative of the northern Greek dialects, the richness of the female folk costume (karagouna), as well as the multitude of folk events and other ancient customs of rural worship, most of which continue to this day.
The modern city, the modern Palamas, which is the second municipality of the prefecture in population after Karditsa, is mostly built on an ancient settlement and has evolved into a beautiful city that is literally extended in the heart of the western Thessalian plain on an area of 5550 acres.
Palamas’ roots are identified with Thessalian myths and folk legends. Archaeological research has shown that the southern part of the settlement of the city of Palamas, known as the “Chantaki” district (Byzantine name) has been continuously inhabited since 6500 BC until today. The ancient settlement extends from the outskirts of the southern part of the city (Hadaki) and reaches the boundaries of the 3rd district of the city, known as ’40 plowmen’ or ‘karaber’ or the church of Agios Charalambos.
Among the findings of this archaeological research lies the ancient representation found in the 325 block, as well as a sculpture with the head of an ancient god. The ancient representation is a piece of shell from the 4th century BC and probably represents the abduction of a young girl on horseback. The head representation is probably the head of the chthonian god Pluto.
This place, with its permanent habitation, was somewhat easily associated with “Turkopalama”. The rest of the town, Rum Palama, shows no evidence of earlier occupation in the subsoil and this leads to the conclusion that this place was inhabited later, in modern times. The fact that in all the censuses of the Municipality of Titani, the settlement Keramidi (Keramides) is mentioned as uninhabited, leads us to the conclusion that the inhabitants of the ancient city that existed on the slopes of the Asterios mountain (Vlochos), which is proven to have functioned in Byzantine times, as we have the existence of castles in the fields at the location of Keramides and reached up to Mount Asterio or Stroggylovouni, moved in later years further south and created the core of the northern settlement of Palamas. The position ‘Keramides’, identified with the southern part of the ancient state of Asterios, is about 2 km from Palamas. Thus, for rather honourable reasons, Keramidi – Keramides is mentioned in the censuses without population.
It is worth noting that the two mountains north of Palamas, named Asterion and Titanios, are mentioned by Homer in the second rhapsody of the Iliad (verses 734 – 737) that its inhabitants took part in the campaign against Troy: “Those who left Ormenion the Fountain of Hyperia, the Asterion and the top of the white waters of Titanios, were commanded by the brilliant Eurypylus Eudemonides and had forty all-black ships at his head” (translation by Iacus Polyla).
Regarding the persecuted Greeks who found shelter in Palamas from the surrounding areas or even from farther away, there is a legend that the conquerors sent rebels to this place with the difficult climate as punishment. Therefore, looking for the reason for the settlement of population in a Turkish-occupied city with a Greek population, the conclusion is that probably the “special privileges” that Palamas had, because it belonged to the Iffkaf of Thessaloniki, which appointed commissioners, rather contributed to the increase of the population.
Families coming from other places did not settle in a particular district of the city, but in various areas (Palamas – Chantaki – Agios Charalambos district – outskirts – centre), and this means that there was no distinction between districts and population.
Because the commissioners of the Iffkaf beys or Aghas and their servants, usually Koniarans or Albanians or even local havales, often became tyrannical, the Palamians complained either to the Iffkaf of Thessaloniki or to the High Gate.
From written sources that exist today, Palamas appears in the census of 1454 – 1455, made by the Turks in Thessaly and from this we conclude that the place pre-existed the Turkish conquest.
Chantaki is mentioned as another village in 1531 in the will of Hassan Bey. It is a Byzantine place name. The name Chantaki is probably due to the Water Vein, which crossed the settlement and had running water – in winter and summer. Along the water channel there are mounds with relics of ancient and later habitation.
The origin of the Karangounis
The inhabitants of Palamas are Karagounis. Various opinions have been proposed on the interpretation of the word Karagounis:
- It is derived
○ from the Turkish word kara (black) and from the Arvanian goun (siguna – fur) or
○ from the Turkish word karayunan, meaning black, enslaved, unhappy
- According to B Angelis the name Karagounis comes from kara (head) and kino -( move)
Papadimas claims that the Karagounis are exclusively Greek-speaking, and among the oldest inhabitants of Thessaly.
The Karagounis are mainly farmers and differ essentially from the other Thessalian generations in terms of clothing, character, customs, language idiom and have nothing to do with the Karagounis – Arvanitovlachs of Epirus. They are a nomadic tribe of Roman origin who speak, apart from the native vulgar language, a kind of Latin and a kind of Latin and Albanian as well as Greek.
For many centuries they had been the victims of exploitation, both by the Turkish and the Greeks, until 1923, the year of the expropriation of the land, after many agricultural movements. Thus, along with their national independence (1881), they also gained their economic and social liberty (1923).
The inhabitants of Palamas engaged in agriculture as their main occupation, along with animal breeding. The products they cultivated were the ‘late’ crops of maize, sesame, chickpeas and fucalia and the ‘early’ crops of oats, barley and wheat, which they harvested by sowing and grinding in the village mill, while later they also sowed cotton.
In today’s modern town of Palamas it is worth visiting the three magnificent churches in the three districts of the town, which are remarkable monuments, the four brightly lit squares, the Asterion Park, the Magoula of Agios Athanasios, the chapel of the Metamorphosis of the Saviour in Metamorfosi.
The magnificent Hippodamian street plan allows the visitor with a car to wander through the vast districts and neighborhoods of the green flat city, and experience the old folk architecture of the valley, as well as the beautiful new houses with large gardens.