Larissa Old Jewish Cemetery
Jews first settled in Larissa in the 5th century.
This small Romaniot community flourished under Ottoman rule (from the late 14th century). In the 16th and 17th centuries, a small Sephardi congregation also existed. From the 17th -19th centuries., a number of emissaries from Eretz Israel visited and became involved in settling community disputes. The Jewish population in 1848 was 1,500 (of a total population of 6,000). In 1857, a severe fire destroyed two synagogues and left 250 Jewish families without means. The Alliance Israelite ran a Jewish school from 1868 to 1874, alongside the existing school for religious studies. The Jewish population in 1880 was around 2,000. The Jewish population dropped to 1,069 in 1907. Zionist organisations were established in the early 20th century, the Alliance Israelite school was reopened, and various cultural movements were founded. In the 1920s, there were 7 synagogues, serving a population of 1,175 by 1940. In spring 1941, bombing and an earthquake forced the inhabitants of Larissa to escape to neighboring villages. Some Jews remained and in March 1944, 235 were arrested by the Germans. 225 Jews were deported to the Auschwitz death camp, only six of whom survived. After the war, survivors returned to Larissa and the community was revived. It grew to be one of the largest in Greece, after Athens and Salonika.
The exact period of the cemetery’s establishment is unknown, but it can be assumed that it emerged at some point between the 15th and 17th centuries.