Pelion, The Mountain of the Centaurs

Mount Pelion rises in Central Greece, at 200 miles from Athens. This distance is, of course, an approximation, as Pelion is a big mountain stretching over a whole peninsula — it is, nevertheless, where you will find Volos, the capital of the prefecture, over which tower the imposing heights of the mountain.

You can reach Pelion by road, train, and… boat! Yes, this is not a typo — Pelion’s feet are washed by the blue waves of the Aegean, and some amazingly beautiful beaches are only a breath away from the shady mountain slopes and picturesque villages that you can discover there.

Below is a view of the mountain from above; you can see the sea reflecting the evening sun on the left side of the photo:

Thanks to its varied landscape, Pelion is a summer as well as a winter destination. Its ski resort, at almost 5,000 feet, is one of the first that operated in Greece. With its international level specifications, it attracts ski enthusiasts coming from all around the world to enjoy its tracks, as well as an unforgettable visit to the mountain’s beautiful villages.

 

Travel in Time

Pelion is not only the home of legendary Centaurs. The mariage of King Peleus and Thetis, future parents of the hero Achilles, took place on Pelion — this is where the spark that burnt Troy was initially ignited, the place where Eris (Strife) dropped the golden apple with the inscription “To the fairest” and led to the Judgement of Paris and the subsequent rape of Helen of Troy.

Pelion is where Jason grew up before setting out to fetch the Golden Fleece; the trees of the mountain became lumber for the construction of the mythical ship Argo.

During Ottoman rule of the country (1453 – 1830), many scholars, teachers, priests, merchants, artists and artisans took refuge on the mountain, contributing to the founding of several villages and settlements, the construction of highly tasteful architectural works (mansions, village squares, libraries, churches, monasteries) and to the general wealth of the area. During the 17th and 18th century, Pelion was the richest and most densely populated area in Greece.

Today, many of the old mansions are renovated and operate as traditional hostels. Even if you’re not going to book a room there (which would be one of the best choices, by the way), they’re well worth a visit for their remarkable local architecture characteristics. And, if you think the outside is charming… just wait till you see the inside!

 

Villages of Pelion

There are 24 villages on Pelion mountain, and each one of them is different from the others. Some are big, some are small; some are wealthy, others are humble; some can be seen from miles away, attracting the visitor’s eyes, while others are almost invisible, hidden in the thick woods surrounding them.

Almost all of them have a paved square with high platan trees, a stone fountain and the village church. A coffee shop, a couple of taverns, some shops, perhaps a kiosk complete this quasi-typical image.

Most of the villages have quite a treasure of local sights for the visitor to enjoy. Nature holds premiership, with dozens of secret caverns and bewitching valleys, age-old towering trees, and gargling brooks at every step.

Besides nature’s wonders, man-made constructions are of almost equal beauty. Monasteries and old churches, famous for the history associated with them, featuring unique architecture as well as their masterly woodwork and religious iconography; old, newly constructed, or reconstituted mansions; charming old stone bridges and cobbled alleys, crumbling mills and castles; historical buildings, museums, and libraries.

Every summer you can witness numerous festivals, celebrations, and religious feasts of a local character, while we should also mention the various performances, concerts, and cultural events taking place in the area.

 

Beaches of Pelion

The area of Pelion and its beaches and seaside villages can be distinguished in two main parts:

Lower part of the 3-D map, Pagasitikos bay, with Mount Pelion advancing into the sea on the N-to-S axis, creating the peninsula that separates the bay from the Aegean Sea.

  • the ones inside Pagasitikos bay, which are more “hospitable” and sandy, with relatively shallow and calm waters;
  • the eastern beaches, outside Pagasitikos bay, wild and majestic at the Northern coasts, or with a more graceful beauty to the South.

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One Response to Pelion, The Mountain of the Centaurs

  1. Pelion is an amazing tourist destination. It combines the serenity of an evergreen mountain, the incredible turquoise of the Aegean Sea and the modern conveniences of the vibrant port of Volos. In my opinion, the biggest asset of Pelion as a tourist destination is the smile and the warm hospitality of the locals. They make visitors welcome to enjoy their vacation, so it’s no wonder why they come back year after year.

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