Villa Gayannis location
In the northern parts of Pelion there are very few places you cannot see or hear mountain streams rushing down to the sea.
There is an abundance of water, which accounts for the lush vegetation of this region. Beech oak and plane trees spread over the mountain with ancient chestnuts stretching their limbs to the sky.
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.
The highest peaks of Pelion, Pliasidi 1548 m. and Pourianos Stavros 1610 m. are in the northern part of the range.
Its eastern flank, with the Aegean Sea stretching out into the distance like a vast mirror, comes to an abrupt end
in the sea, creating wildly beautiful rocky shores.
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 Agio Oros (the holy mountain), 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.
“Villa Gayanni” previous Villa Konstantinidis. A typical Pelion house is a fortress-like three-story 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 century, neo-classical features began to be added.
The rather grand architecture of the old merchant’s houses is well worth seeing. It speaks of a rich and industrious past, now settled into the peace and quiet of today.
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 uniqueness of the Greek landscape is compressed in this miracle of nature called Pelion.
Visitors interested in exploring the area by foot will be happy to find a more temperate climate here than one is generally used to in Greece. You can even experience a short rain in the middle of the summer.
There are about 2000 kinds of herbs indigenous to this area and many have healing properties. Greek mythology tells us
that Asklepios, the “father of medicine”, was here first instructed in the use of herbs by the centaur Chiron,
the wise teacher of demigods and heroes, who gave his pupils daily instruction in the proper care of body and soul.
Here, as well, the first beauty contest took place between
Thetis and Eris.
Make a tour around Pelion
In Agriolefkes (at 1200m height) a little higher than the resort Hania , there is a refuge, ski lifts, a big slope for experienced skiers and a separate area for beginners, along with all the comforts of a modern ski resort. A snowfall of 2 or 3 meters is not unusual in the wintertime. It will take you half an hour by car from Zagora to take you to your favourite sports, skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, hot chocolate, mingle…..
The village Zagora was under the Turkish occupation (appr.14-1900) the business- and cultural centre of Pelion. Silk production was so lucrative that the Greeks could afford the ruling Pasha to allow them freedom of government.
The Turkish occupation of Magnesia was unusual in that it did not extend into the eastern, inaccessible portion of Pelion; as a result, the coastal towns were abandoned in favour of the remote mountain villages there, which acquired a special cultural and economic lustre, becoming at the same time a bastion for “the teachers and fighters of the Greek nation”
The Orthodox Church was able to establish a school, which helped preserve Greek culture. The school named the “School of Rigas Ferraios” where many so called spiritual fathers of the Greek Revolution studied and today has become the local museum, which has regular exhibitions in the summertime .
The famous library in Zagora holds precious and rare books and manuscripts dating from the 15th century.
There are four large churches in Zagora. Among them the Byzantine churches of St. George and St. Kiriaki which contain richly carved icon screens.
All churches hold their saint’s day festival with music, dance, wine and traditional food – a memorable experience!
In the village there is as well plenty of cafes and restaurants on the three main village squares where you can sit and sip a tsiporo, the local drink with delicious snacks (mezé, in the shade of ancient plane trees.There is of course every modern facility for the visitor here, post office, medical centre, super markets,
private physician, currency exchange, bank, buses, taxi etc. 15 minutes by car or by bus takes you down to the seaside and the summer resort Horefto. On the way you are passing through rich fruit orchards with apples, pears, cherries and kiwis spreading down the slopes. Getting nearer to Horefto there are big olive, orange and lemon groves. Horefto was the former major port dealing in the export of silk to Smyrna, Egypt and Europe. Today there are no traces of the harbour and the merchant’s storage buildings, but instead nice hotels, pensions, restaurants, a few bars and coffee shops and of course the clean and inviting sandy beach.
Here you will also find restaurants with fresh fish and other traditional dishes, bars, shops and a bakery with the most delicious traditional sweets along with cheese- and spinach pies.
Horefto is very green. North and south of the main Horefto beach there are little sand and pebble beaches, each with shady trees right down to the shoreline. You will enjoy wonderful safe bathing here. The water is crystal clear and there are seldom big waves here.