On the list of destinations that I was longing to visit was Pelion. It happened that I planned it two times, but every time something occurred so we could not make it. This third time, was the lucky one. A gorgeous wooded and mountainous peninsula of Thessaly is just halfway from Athens to Thessaloniki, which both are served by well priced flights all year round.
As it was the end of October, we experienced the region brightened by the Autumn sun as well as morning fog in some parts. Quite and scenic. Crispy caramelized colors were everywhere. No matter what time of year, the very winding roads are make for slow driving. Well, I tend to get motion sickness. Still, it was worth it and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Off of Pelion’s circuit of super curvy roads are Pelion’s fantastic villages. In the most scenic of them, there are traditional timbered homes, known for their slate roofs, as well as the cobbled paths to the most beautiful views you can imagine.
My tip for Pelion is to split the time between the west side and the east side, just like we did.
The closest to Chiron Residence, where we stayed was Tsagarada village. It is about 10 minutes away by car. The first morning we decided to go to that famous village of this side of Pelion and to enjoy our coffee on Agia Paraskevi square.
The village lies on the slopes of the mountain, facing the Aegean Sea and is divided into four sections: Agii Taxiarhes, Agia Paraskevi, Agios Stefanos and Agia Kiriaki. Every neighborhood of Tsagarada has its own monument and something that makes it special. At this square which we visited, just next to the church, there is the 1000 – year – old plane tree.
Following the traditional cobbled streets, we passed along old traditional houses, residences of noblemen and stone-built fountains. For a moments we felt like we are back in time. In one and only grocery store we found, we met around ten locals sitting on the fence and sipping a coffee. In that store, everything was vintage, just like it was the first day when the grandpa opened the store. It was about 60 years ago. A Greek charm on its own way.
Digital detoxes are the new It thing in travel – and this place looks like perfect for it! No lights, no wifi, no cell signal, just you the trees and the breeze. As many guides were talking about the old bridge at Tsagarada which is symbol of Pelion, I had to check it. Wilderness for domestic types, who appreciate a nice cup of tea at nearby cafe bar.
The stone one-arch bridge of Tsagarada is located at the entrance of the village and from that point starts the gorge of Mylopotamos. We had a struggle to find it but if you are following signs, you will spot it easy. It is easily accessible. From the main road, you will find a sign that says “old bridge”. A downhill path through the chestnut trees will lead you, after a few minutes, to an incredible place in the plane tree forest.
Kissos is a village that Machi, our host from Chiron Residence has recommended to us. Probably that’s why I was the most excited about this visit. The name of the village is actually from a silver mine which was discovered in the area. In the past, when the villagers were talking about gold and silver, they were saying k’sos and argiros, which stood for “Chrisos” – Gold and “Argiros” – Silver.From the villagers using these words, the name of the village, Kissos, was probably derived, although some maintain that the name came from the “Ivy” that grew in abundance in the village. Probably the craftmen used material from this mine for the plating of the iconostasis of Agia Marina church located on the beautiful cobbled square.The three-aisled basilica church of Agia Marina, was built in 1650 by craftsmen from Epirus.
The church is considered to be one of the best and most representative religious monuments of this kind in Pelion, decorated by an impressive temple carved with designs of animals and plants, which present probably the Ark of Noah. Tradition says that, it took 60 years to complete the carving on the iconostasis.
I could stay here for hours just staring on all paintings. Many of those paintings have a bit different stories that took my attention. One is the telling of a “fake” confession where the true sin is hidden. The another one is picture “The Evil Metamorphosis”. The purpose of this story is to depicts how one’s ego can bring out the worst in people, instead of that person’s good side.
As well as the impressive temple of Agia Marina, a cute traditional coffee spot on the main square, there are also two smaller seperate buildings that comprise of small museums.The museum on the right hand side of the church contains a selection of icons, while the second museum has a wide variety of various objects and artifacts from the area.
Damouchari is not an ordinary village, its story begins at the dawn of the twentieth century. Most if not all residents and hoteliers of the village are decendants of one man Mr. Apostolos Vainopoulos (their grandfather or great grandfather), who was the only resident of Damouchari back in the beginnings of the century. Mr. Vainopoulos was settled in the place because of the natural harbor shaped in the gulf of Damouchari, from there he was able to conduct his business that was no other than importing and exporting goods from and to Pelion with his ship.
Today because of Mama Mia movie this village got the shine it deserves. The producers of the film needed a place that resembled 1980 since the action takes place at that time. It was only logical to choose Damouchari which had conserved the charm of earlier years without traffic and high-rise buildings. During this time of the year, with the autumn colors, this village is more beautiful than I expected! And yes, I did that dance from the movie.
You can walk on the picturesque cobbled paths of the village as well as on the one that leads to Tsagarada, with a view of the deep blue Aegean Sea (approximately 1.5 hour). From the North side of Damouchari, you will find the path that leads to the beautiful beach “Papa Nero”. We didn’t walk, we went by car to nearby famous resort Agios Giannis for a coffee.
The next village of the area and again one amazing old tree! Zagora is set in a charming position in vast green lands regarded as the center of the woodland area in Pelion. My favorite apples are also coming from this place! Probably you saw them also all over Greece markets – just you didn’t pay attention.
All houses are totally built in traditional style, most of them have wooden carved ornamental windows and doors.
Zagora is also the biggest village of Pelion. It was once a silk producing center and a place of trade in the 17th and 18thcenturies.
One of the most interesting sights is Rigas school where Rigas Feraios was taught as well as the library of Zagora, which houses thousands of rare books including the original manuscript of A Few Seconds by Fanis Loverdos.
The last destination we decided to visit on our way back as it is on the opposite side. Without a bit of sea view to be found yet Makrinitsa stole my heart. Ancient trees tower over the main square where a historic fountain and church can be found are one of those postcard shots. A lovely church dedicated to Agios Ioannis Prodromos and a carved marble fountain, were built around 1809. The crystal clear water from the fountain is called Immortal Water.
The village is home of the Museum of Folk Art and History of Pelion, housed in the historic Topali Mansion, with over 1,500 objects related to the folk culture and everyday life of the region. Makrinitsa is known as the noble village, because it was mostly inhabited by wealthy people. This is why most of the houses are noble mansions, very richly decorated.
The main pedestrian lane is lined with adorable stonework mom-and-pop shops selling handcrafted items and local products. As I always like to get for a souvenir the local products – this place was heaven for that. We got a cocktail mixed tea, a chestnut, honey and jam of peach and apples. To tell you the truth – it is all delicious- the most of those gifts, we kept for ourselves this time.
Where to stay: Chiron Residence
Being constantly on the trips, sometimes you are tired of the hotels, or you just want to feel somewhere like you are at home. That’s why I was more than happy when I received an email from Chiron Residence. Without thinking I chose the date and started to plan it.
This home is located at Mouressi village, just in the middle of all these scenic places that you must to visit.
In a little clearing in the middle of the woods, not too far outside of civilization, Chiron residence became my favorite vacation retreat. As you know I am crazy about technology and here you will have all on your disposal. We have spent all night watching Netflix next to the fire, enjoying those chestnuts collected the previous day.
The house is equipped with everything someone may need. The owners are on your disposal all the time and you will not miss anything. They were waiting for us the first day, with a positive attitude, and so much passion about their place and the area. Machi prodly showed me the living room, the bedroom, the kids bedroom, the kitchen, the second bedroom, and two bathrooms. The most surprising thing was the hammam. I didn’t try it to be honest but I can imagine how much you would have fun inside!
Wilderness for domestic types, who appreciate having place to call home away from home.
And a proper bed, with crisp sheets to snuggle into after dark. Need to mention that the house can host up to 6 person.
It’s a place for walks. Somewhere to read books or a Sunday reading the papers from front to back.
You can chat around the fire while catching up with your friends or watching the stars twinkle into life. Wrap up in wooly jumpers and each other’s arms.
My favorite part of the stay at Chiron was definitely the comfort we had. Just after the morning snuggle, we would moved to the kitchen to make the breakfast. Ah, and do not forget to bring with you necessities for a stay. As my mom said – if you are going to the mountain – you should know what you need to bring with you. The food. ( and a good company – I would add)
All other things are fixed by Chiron Residence.
It doesn’t meter which season you would go for it. Pelion is always a good idea. Here, the sun, sea and snow meet the Greek mountains. I know Greeks who regularly travel to Pelion for a summer break, a fall getaway, a cozy winter holiday or for springtime trips especially around Greek Easter.
In short, nature blooms all four seasons here. I am definitely planning to visit it during the winter as well as summer days to explore beaches around. Are you in? I will need some company for Chiron residence.
During the stay to Pelion, I was a guest of Chiron Residence. However, all opinions stated in this article are based on my own experience.
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