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Pelion - split between myth and present

26 January 2010 / 17:01:48  GRReporter
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Kremena Koutsoukou

Pelion is the mountain that the myth calls the summer residence of the Olympic gods and the magical land of the centaurs. It rises deeply green and impressive over the city of Volos, between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea. It is known by its Eden nature, with which it fascinates and captivates its many visitors. 

History and legend, tame and wild, past and present all meet in the magical atmosphere of the Pelion landscape. Here the divine marriages of Peleus and Thetis, praised by Homer, Pindar and Euripides happened here. Here was the starting point of the legendary ship Argo with Jason and the Argonauts for the distant journey to Colchis in search of the Golden Fleece. Near to the wise centaur Chiron raised and taught were the demigods Achilles and Hercules and Asclepius had mastered the healing art. Throughout the centuries, except in myths, scars of the history of Pelion are sealed among the ruins of ancient cities, in the remains of medieval castles and in monuments of the Church in the early years of Christianity. From the 12th century Pelion is present on the historic stage as "monastic community" for its numerous monasteries built on safe and mountainous areas by monks of Mount Athos. With time, new settlements appear around Pelion monasteries, which with the resettlement of populations from coastal areas, are organized in small towns and villages. During the period of Turkish domination they become self-recognized and self-governed and as a result they reach the economic and cultural boom in the second half of 18th century. Thus, the main villages in Pelion become museums of folk art and architecture. The impressive figures of the towers, temples - basilica type with carved altar ornaments and exquisite icons, cobblestone streets, airy squares, stone fountains and curved bridges, are preserved until today and they create the Pelion characteristic landscape. 

Today the mountain is one of the most sought after tourist routes. It is not an accident why many representatives of the Greek elite have bought a house here. Every summer, the picturesque villages of Pelion fill with many tourists from across Europe. Seekers of authentic experiences and peace find their place exactly here. The secluded coastal coves are known as one of the cleanest. Places where you can swim and enjoy the sun are many and you will not be left with the feeling that you are surrounded by a crowd. From the coastal villages perched in the foothills of the mountain I recommend Agios Ioannis, Agios Dimitrios, Horefto, Milopotamos and Damuhari, where part of the popular scenes of the musical Mamma Mia were filmed. They are located about an hour and a half away by car from the city of Volos. On the road you will pass through the picturesque Tsangarada. This is a mountain village, whose coolness and freshness will certainly fill you with energy. Shortly after the village Tsangarada is located Mures. The view that opens from it to the sea is really fascinating. On top of the mountain is Hanya - a popular winter resort, where from the ski slopes you can see the sea! 

If you decide to tour around Pelion I must warn you that the coastal villages accept tourists mainly during the summer period - from May until October. During the other months hotels do not work, although if you go in winter you will find some open restaurants like Tavern Akrogyali in Agios Ioannis. Here, at any time of year you can taste the famous Pelion dishes like "spedzofay”, "pepper pie”, “galotiri "," paputsakiya” and “bekri appetizer”. During the summer in Agios Ioannis you will be able to eat or drink in one of the many restaurants or coffee bars - all are on the coast! In close proximity to Agios Ioannis beach is Papa Nero. For camp fans I will note that on the border between the two villages there is a great camping. Otherwise, hotel prices during summer vary at around €60-€90 for a double room. The normal price is per night without breakfast. Exactly due to the image and reputation of the Pelion landscape it will be difficult to find hotels with all-inclusive programs. 

Just 12 kilometers above Volos is the "balcony" of the city - Portariya. This is a very picturesque village with cobblestone streets and a spacious square. Certainly the more discerning guests will be satisfied if they stay in the local hotel Xenia Palace, which is one of the not many truly luxurious and elegant hotels in Pelion. The square hosts the taverns, “Kritsa” and “Skalakya”, which are always filled with tourists. Very near to Portariya is Makrinitsa, which also “requires" to be visited. Its streets are "decorated" by a variety of souvenirs and marmalade, prepared by the locals. 

Afisos, Agria and Kala Nera near the sea and Agios Lavrentios, Neohori and Zagora in the mountain, are other villages that you will like. Places that are worth going, in order to feel the real atmosphere are many, so I recommend you to spend at least 10 days there. In order to find all these villages you will firstly have to get to the city of Volos, located 500 km away from Sofia and 324 kilometers away from Athens. Information about hotels can be found online or in any local travel agency.

Tags: Pelion Tourism in Greece Mountains in Greece
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