In Giorgio de Chirico’s Pelion
Once the word “Pelion” was heard, we all jumped up in joy. Pelion, here we come!
Memories of an exciting journey!
Volos, Portaria and Makrinitsa to start with
Although we have been there many times, each visit has something new to reveal. Pelion consists of 24 main villages, whose beauty won't let you pick one as your favorite. After the first stop at the city of Volos for its famous tsipouro taverns, we started climbing the picturesque road towards the villages of Makrinitsa and Portaria, with their beautiful mansions.
Our next stop was at the picturesque square of Portaria, only 12 km away from Volos, for a coffee and a homemade treat, right before heading to Makrinitsa, which has been described as the terrace of Pelion –and there’s a good reason for that; as you stand on its historic square with the marble fountain and its four bronze lion’s heads, surrounded by the plane trees, the view of the Pagassitikos Gulf is simply magnificent. Our smartphones were on fire when we stopped at Theophilos’s coffee shop in order to take photos of “The battle of Kria Vrissi”, the huge 1910 fresco by the famous Greek painter Theophilos Hatzimihail.
As we continue towards the village of Tsangarada, the beautiful route amongst small villages in thick forests is truly breathtaking, especially to people coming from large cities. This village feels like being part of the forest that embraces it with chestnut trees, brackens and ageless tall plane trees. Beautiful mansions, built according to the traditional local architecture, capture the eye at the first glance. Many guesthouses have been established recently, in traditional architecture style, with respect to the details of the local techniques. We chose to stay at the “Arnica Montana”, a real gem in the middle of the village, and after settling we straight ahead started scouting the area, right before sunset. The sound and sight of water all around creates a fairy-tale landscape, while the imposing aristocratic mansions take you way back in time. Stone paved alleys and the wild natural beauty create a setting that justifies why Ancient Greek gods chose Pelion as their vacation resort! As night falls, houses light up one after the other, turning the mountain of Pelion into a landscape of indescribable beauty. And as for dining? What’s better than a local tavern, with the famous spetsofai, bean soup, hot chilli peppers, pies, the famous local sausages and, of course, lots of tsipouro!
Riding the Old Steam to Milies
After a nourishing night’s sleep, we enjoyed a rich traditional breakfast with hot buns and homemade jams. Filled with energy, we headed early in the morning towards Ano Lekhonia (36 km). When we arrived at the village, we left our car at the spacious parking lot in front of the railway station, eager to experience a ride with the legendary steam locomotive. The whistle sounds at 10 am and an unforgettable mountainous train ride towards the village of Milies begins. The four cars of Mountzouris (“Smudgy”), as they used to call the steam locomotive because of the thick smoke it left behind, follows one of the narrowest rails (60 centimeters) in the world. Passing through thick forests with tall trees and weeds, the train stops only once for 15 minutes at Ano Gantzea and then continues panting its way up in a 15 km route. Some of the most impressive sites that we meet on our way include the stone built five-arch bridge of Kalorema and the big metal bridge of Taxiarchis or De Chirico bridge, named after its designer, father of the famous artist.
The train operates from spring to autumn, following a special itinerary, with 1 daily departure. For the rest of the year, hiring the train is possible, after an arrangement with the Hellenic Train headquarters at Volos. That historic train used to run from Volos to Milies on an equally historic route: its structure began in 1892 and the first segment that reached Lehonia was finally opened in 1896. The remaining part to Milies was constructed later on and was inaugurated in 1903. The construction of this railway network was supervised by Evaristo de Chirico, father of famous Italian artist Giorgio de Chirico who was actually born in Volos. As a matter of fact, young Giorgio was there during construction, watching the means that was later meant to constantly inspire him in his work.
After 90 minutes we arrived at the end of the route, at Milies Railway Station. Tower houses with tile roofs, narrow windows according to the local architecture pattern and flower-filled yards are the first images you get from this scenic village. Forests and mountainous landscapes are blending with the impressive view to the beautiful Pagassitikos Gulf. Tourism has been developing here for many decades, but the local color has never been altered. Although the train returns to Ano Lehonia at 3 pm, we decided to spend the night at Milies and relive the Mountzouris experience the following day. After enjoying the delicacies of “Palios Stathmos” restaurant, the stone paved alleys led us to “Filippidis” mansion, where we had a nice sleep, knowing that the beauties of Pelion are just endless. This is why we shall return!
The train departs from Ano Lehonia at 10 am and returns from Milies at 3 pm, with a 15-minute stopover at Ano Gantzea on both directions. One-way ticket costs €10, return ticket costs €18 . Children’s fares are €6 and €10 respectively, valid for kids from 4 to 14 years old. There are also special discounts from Monday to Friday for groups, as well as special prices for hiring the entire train all year round.
Modifications or cancellations may occur to certain routes following government measures for the protection of public health. You may find more information on our website.