The city of Serres, situated in one of the most turbulent crossroads in the Balkans, has served as a passage for numerous nations and armies, and it is one of the few ancient Greek cities with a constant presence, since the historic times.

The first written record of its existence is found at the beginning of the 5th century b.c. Herodotus mentioned the city using the name ''Siris'' and its habitants as ''SiroPaiones''. Theopempos used the name ''Sirra'' and, long after him, the roman Titos Livios recorded the name ''Siras''. Stefanos Vizantios also recorded the name ''Siris in Paionia''. The city is also referred as "Sirraion Polis" in a roman inscription in the Archaeological Museum of the city, which happens to be the oldest reference on a monument. The word ''Sirris'' had prob- ably derived from the word ''sirios'', which meant ''the sun''.

There are a few archaeological findings from the first historical period of Serres; more have been found from the roman era, which include marble plates with repousse representations and epitaph, testimonial and votive inscriptions.

In the 5th century, Serres is referred to be the center of the diocese and in the 6th century, it is one of the greatest cities of the 7th Eparchy of Byzantium. Since the 8th century, the city obtains a leading role in the area between the rivers Nestos and Strimonas. It is called by the byzantine authors ''big and admirable'', ''powerful'', ''wealthy'', ''top'', ''metropolis'' and ''divinely secured'', etc.

In the Middle Ages the city has suffered from slavery and many disasters, but it managed to survive. During the fall 1204, it surrendered to the Venetian Crusaders. The following year, the Boulgarian Tsar Ioannis A' captured Serres and arrested the crusaders, decapitated their garrison and destroyed completely the city. In 1221 the city came to the domain of the mo- gul of Epirus, Theodoros, but in 1230, the Boulgarian Tsar Ioannis B' arrested and blinded Theodoros and conquered Serres. Consecutively the city was suffered noumerous occupa- tions in 1230, 1245, 1345. In 1371, after the battle of Jernomiano the Serbian State was dis- solved and Serres was devolved to the king of Thessaloniki Emmanouil B'. Two years later the city was again seized by the Turks temporarily, but after ten years, permanently.

The most ancient sculpture findings belong to the roman era. Painting flourished during the late Byzantine period. The famous monastery of ''Prodromos'', established in 1276, had been the center of a constant painting production. In the monastery, one can find some of the most interesting paintings in our country, dating from the 14th century.

The oldest and most valuable in the city is the reconstructed temple of ''St. Theodoroi'' (for- mer cathedral), which is a big basilica with three aisles. Some other important architectural monuments are the church of Saint Nikolaos up in the citadel of Serres from the 11th cen- tury, and the churches of St George Kryoneritis and St John Prodromos, from the beginning of the 14th century.

There are not any mansions and private buildings left from older periods due to the numer- ous disasters, and especially the last fire in 1913. A characteristic sample of the vernacular architecture characteristic of the region of Macedonia is Zaparas's house, in Ano Kameni- kia.

During the Ottoman period, the city of Serres expanded. In the early 17th century, the Turk writer HatziKalfas refer to the city as ''the city of wisemen'', while Evliya Çelebi in his travel- ogue classifies the city as the third in size and importance among the ten bigger cities of the European part of Turkey. Some very valuable buildings from the Ottoman period are saved in the historic center of the city exemplifying mixture of the oriental and byzantine style. The most important and beautiful one is the Ahmet Pasha Mosque, build in 1492. Tzintzirli Çami is another example of good architecture. The oldest secular building, built presumably the year 1385, is the Bezesteni. It was built to be a market for valuable merchandise and nowa- days it serves as the Archaeological Museum of the city.

The habitats of Serres took part in numerous pre­revolutionary movements against the Turks. During the last centuries of the Ottoman occupation the vast valley of the region around Serres and the unlimited wealth of breadstuff and farming led the city to bloom- ing. The city became an important center, attracting merchants and buyers from the entire Balkan region.

In Serres, during the 18th century ­ the century of Enlightment, education became the cen- ter point of its growth. Famous Schools and the first school for teachers in the whole Euro- pean Turkey were founded in the city.

The city was the basic administration center for the fight against the Ottoman Empire be- tween the years 1904­1908, together with Thessaloniki and Monastiri. At the end of the Balkan wars, a major section of the city was destroyed by the receded Bulgarian army. At the 28th of June, 1913, the town was liberated by the Greek army.