An interesting fact is that Pilio is one of the most densely inhabited greek mountains.
Although it is relatively remote, there are more than 30 villages dispersed in all Pelion peninsula, which means that, in average, every 5km there is one village.
Pelion villages are in absolute harmony with the landscape and the nature:
- Village squares with big plane trees in the middle and panoramic views
- Old rich houses with thick, decorated, stone-built walls, roof made of local stone (which is found just here), small balconies and huge gardens around
- Water springs and paved paths connecting neighborhoods and villages
- Old churches, with fine, wooden works and beautiful frescoes, handmade (centuries ago) by talented, unknown folklore artists
Pelion historical architecture is protected by special laws of construction, obligatory for any new building. Although, this measure alone is not enough, at least prevents the architectural alteration of the traditional villages.
Here are some of the most famous traditional villages of the whole Greece, famous not only for their beauty but also for their tradition, culture and history, such as Makrynitsa, Portaria, Zagora, Vyzitsa and Milies. Like true ornaments of another era, they offer pleasure and moments of reverie to every visitor.
The old Pelion train
Exactly a century ago the train of Pelion began its operations, designed by the architect Evaristo De Chirico. He was the father of the famous painter Giorgio De Chirico. The route started from Volos and ended in Old Station at Milies. Today, after a long closure period of the line, the legendary “Smudgy”, as the locals used to call it, returns to the rails on a magical journey, passing through lush green hillsides, ravines, small arched stony bridges and tunnels. Impressive and imperious stands the rugged bridge made of steel of De Chirico with panoramic views of Pagasitikos Gulf. The train operates daily during the touristic season starting from the station of Lehonia (a village close to Volos) in the morning and returns from the station of Milies in the afternoon. In the non-operating hours it is worth visiting the old train station walking from Milies to the settlement of Argireika on the rails and imposing bridges, true masterpieces that have nothing to envy from the modern constructions.
The path network of East Pelion
A special characteristic of the mountainous East Pelion is its wide network of paved paths and mule-tracks. Those paths are called “Kalderimia” and they were built centuries ago, as commercial roads between the traditional villages and havens of the pre-vehicle period. Damouchari, the old port of East Pelion, is a significant node of this network. Later, during the post-vehicle period, the mountainous topography of the area did not permit the new car roads to be built upon the old, steep (but shorter) mule-tracks, as it happened in other places. As a result, most paved paths have remained untouched and are still preserved clean and in very good condition.
Nowadays, “Kalderimia” are not serving as commercial roads, but as hiking routes for exploring Pelion nature. They are offering a wide range of walks, inside the jungle, along the coast or inside the villages, coming across isolated beaches, arched bridges, fountains, springs, waterfalls and panoramic views. A characteristic route is considered the path that connects Damouhari with Fakistra, passing the Secret School tucked into the rocks in a cave, offering travelers images of another era. Walking on the paths is very popular among visitors and it is no exaggeration to say that, even people who do not fancy hiking, they cannot resist to some small walks on “Kalderimia”.
The beaches of East Pelion
The main villages of East Pelion are Kalamaki (Propan), Lambinou, Xourichti, Tsagarada, Mouresi, Kissos, Agios Dimitrios, Anilio, Makryrachi, Zagora and Pouri. They are distinguished for their great size and for how sparsely populated they are, fact that protected them from the frequent pirate raids. Most of them have a haven next to the sea (in a distance of about 3km.). It is about protected bays and beaches, which combine the blue, deep, clear waters of the Aegean with the breathtaking view of the mountain, along the coast and so near of it. The beaches range from very large, completely sandy and organised, until much smaller, completely wild and secluded pebble beaches with spectacular cliffs. Some of the most famous and special beaches are Mylopotamos, Papa Nero, Plaka, Agios Ioannis, Agioi Saranta, Horefto, Fakistra and Damouchari (read Beaches around).