Legend has it that this mountain was the summer resort of the Gods of Olympus and the magic country of the Centaur. It rises, imposing and green, above Volos between the Pagasitic Gulf and the Aegean Sea. Here in the magnetic atmosphere of the Pelioritic Landscape, history mingles with legend, the wild with the tranquil, yesterday with today.
It was said by the ancients that during the battle between the gods and the giants (Gigantomachia) the latter tried to challenge Olympus by pilling Pelion on Ossa. Mount Pelion was also the remote home of Cheiron, the wisest of the centaurs, who played an important part in the Greek fables.
Having encouraged the marriage of Pileups and Thetis, a Nereid, he educated their son Achilles, one of the heroes of the Trojan War, in which Achilles died after being wounded in the heel by an arrow shot by Paris, the only vulnerable part of his body.
Cheiron was also responsible for the education of Asklepios, to whom he explained the use of herbs (medicine) and of Jason who used timber from Pelion for the boat (Argo) in which he sailed with the 50 Argonauts to Colchis (Black Sea) to find the Golden Fleece.
But the traces of the Historic course of Pelion through the centuries are stamped on the ruins of ancient cities, on the remains of Medieval castles and the monuments of old Christian basilicas.
From the 12th century Pelion emerges in the historic limelight as a "monastic city" thanks to the many monasteries built by monks of Agion Oros, mainly on mountains and safe sides.
As time goes by, around the monasteries new settlements are set up and as the population moves from the coast these settlements are organized and become small towns and villages which, during the Turkish occupation, gain privileges and therefore economic and cultural prosperity during the second half of the 17th century. The typical Pelion house is a fortress like three-storey building. The first and second floors have very few small openings, while the third floor, which is the summer quarters, is a light construction with large windows, enclosed balconies and wooden beams that support the roof. The stained-glass and painted windows alongside the transparent ones give an unusual look to the overall building. Around the middle of the 19th c., neo-classical features began to be added.So the big villages of Pelion turn into real museums of folk Art and Architecture. The haughty figures of the tower-like houses , the basilica churches with the wood -carved screens and the excellent frescos, the cobbled paths, the tree-shaded squares, the stone fountains and the arched bridges have been preserved the unique scenery of Pelion.
This heavenly nature of wild, with no easy access and with lush vegetation that goes down to the very coasts of the Aegean, its east side; tranquil, peaceful, studded with picturesque villages and quiet beaches the west side of the Pagasitic Gulf. The uniqueness of the Greek landscape is compressed in this Miracle of nature called Pelio.
Makrinitsa. The "balcony" of Pelion ( 700m -2.297 ft). One of the most characteristic traditional settlements, full of mansions and houses that look like hanging ornaments on the green mountain side. The main square (platia) is especially attractive with its fountain, with the old ages plain trees and its tiny church (18C) Makrinitsa occupies a magnificent site on a verdant slope facing Volos Bay: it is pleasant to stroll through the steep and narrow streets among the splendid old houses, some of them are quite large and have been well preserved and restored. In one of the traditional coffee houses there is a big fresco by Theofilos. The picturesque cobbled paths of Makrinitsa are scattered with traditional water fountains where waterfowls endlessly
Hania (ski-center) A village on the mountain, 1200m. above the sea level. It is built in the midst of a thick beech forest and you have to pass through it when traveling from West to East Pelion. In the past, a lot of travelers and merchants spent the night at the hotels there. Today next to the village, at Agriolefkes there is one of the most beautiful ski resorts in Greece. Skiers glide down the snow covered slopes gazing at the Pagasiticos on their left and the Aegean on their right.
SKI CENTRE. Usually one can ski at Agriolefkes from November 20 to April 30 depending on the snowfall. The centre has a refuge restaurant, snack bar, three parking lots, a first-aid station, two lifts and two slopes, beginners' slopes and a network of cross country trails through beeches.
Tsagarada: One of the most beautiful
and well-known villages on Pelion, Tsagarada, is found right
in the heart of the eastern side of the mountain. Just 50 km
from Volos, built at an approximate height of 1600ft. above
sea-level and outstretched in an area of 12.150 hectares.
Tsagarada offers both sea and mountain pleasures; one can swim in the clear water of the Aegean Sea at its feet, while the top of the village is very close to Hania, one of the best-organized Skiing Resorts in Greece. It is a village with a small population (800 inhabitants altogether), with luxuriant vegetation, and wonderful beaches, presenting a great interest in any season of the year to the discerning visitor.
Tsagarada is a village of great cultural, social and economical tradition, organized and still based on a mixed type of economy (Tourism and Agriculture). It consists of 4 districts (Aggie Taxiarhes, Agia Paraskevi, Agios Stefanos and Agia Kiriaki), at such a distance from each other that they almost seem to be autonomous one from the other ,although linked through a network of roads, as "Kalderimia" (narrow traditional stone paths), with streams, arched bridges, squares, churches, new and old mansions make it an ideal resting place. At a distance of less than 7 km, there are two of the best beaches of Pelion: Milopotamos and to the north Fakistra.
Mylopotamos. This wonderful beach, awarded the E.E.C. 's Blue Flag, is 7 km away from the village, easily approachable by two different points in the village. Although well-organized, its supreme natural beauty remains untouched.
Millies The cultural and literary centre of Pelion in the 18thc. with old mansions, olive groves, kalderimia (cobblestone paths) and streams galore. The old school house still functions as the local high school and the once celebrated library has a collection of old heir-looms and valuable manuscripts. The church of Pammegiston Taxiarchon, built in 1741, has a gilded icon screen and wonderful frescoes.
Exactly a century ago the little train of Pelion started. The "Volos Milies" line was designed and constructed by Evaristo de Kiriko. Today many years after the closure of the line, the train has started functioning again. The journey is fascinating passing through green valleys, gorges, small tunnels and crossing arched bridges.
Vizitsa On the western slopes of Mount Pelion there is an atmosphere of class, deep culture, history and wisdom. A wonderful village which is in absolute harmony with nature. There are mansions that stand impressively giving a wonderful dimension to the area. Most of them three hundred years old have been restored to their former glory and turned into a working inn by the Greek National Tourist Organization.
The mansions of wealthy Pelion families were amply fortified. In this Mansion for example, a pipe connects the kitchen with a portal above the entrance from which boiling oil could be poured on intruders.