Most famous as a mountain, "Pelion" is surrounded everywhere by the sea, on the east side of the "Aegean Sea" and west of the Gulf of Volos "Pagasetic Gulf". It is one of the few parts of Greece where the two landscapes (mountain and sea) have such a direct and close relation to each other, perfectly harmonious and complementary. The rich mountainous landscape reminiscent of jungle of the Mediterranean is constantly alternated with the maritime reminiscent of Aegean island, olive groves, gardens and apple and pear estates with huge plane trees and forests of chestnut and beech trees, wild mediterranean flowers with alpine vegetation, gorges full of water that start from the top of the mountain and end up at the sea level.
The Centaurs' Mountain
Already from ancient times and the period of the Olympus Gods, Pilion is also called “Centaurs’ Mountain". According to Greek mythology, the Centaurs lived in Pelion and were anthropomorphic creatures with horse's body and legs and human trunk, head and hands. One of the most well-known Centaurs, Chiron was a renowned botanist and healer who knew about the healing properties of the herbs that grow in Pelio. Crowds of people were visiting the "holy mountain" eager to meet and be healed by him. He taught medicine to Asclepius, educated the legendary Achilles and raised Jason, a leading figure in the Argonaut Expedition.
The villages of Pelion
Pilio is considered one of the most densely populated greek mountains. Although quite dispersed and remote one from the other, more than 30 villages are found throughout the peninsula. In perfect harmony with the landscape and nature, amphitheatrically traditional pelion houses are built in the mountain villages. Each district has its square with the village's main café, the church with carved icons and frescoes painted by folk-naif greek painters (such as Theofilos), one or more large plane trees and a magnificent panoramic view usually towards the Aegean Sea. The central square of "Aghia Paraskevi" in the village of Tsagarada is typical with its huge centuries-old plane tree.
The architecture of pelion buildings is special, with the new ones having to adhere to it especially in the traditional settlements, such as "Damouchari". Buildings made exclusively of stone and wood of the area with their thick walls, stone roofs with characteristic "Pelion's plate", large and many windows and small wooden balconies decorated with birds or flowers motifs on the exterior walls. All around the house there are courtyards and gardens full of plants and colourful flowers all year round. The most famous pelion flowers are camellias, gardenias, magnolias, bougainvilleas, hydrangeas.
Abundant beaches and creeks
Each village has also its own "seaplace", a smaller settlement near the coast, not necessarily just one, which is now thriving mostly during the summer months. The coastline, and especially the eastern part that borders the Aegean Sea, has a rich diversity of hidden natural beauty. Long beaches of sand or fine pebbles with clear turquoise waters (eg Papa Nero), shorter ones with rocks or thicker pebbles (Damouhari), virgin bays (Fakistra) and caves that are only accessible from the sea by kayak or boat are some of the landscapes a traveler can choose from.
A wide network of paths especially in Eastern Pelion crosses from ancient times the whole mountain and villages connecting them together. Damouchari, the old port of Eastern Pelion, was an important hub of this network. Most of them are paved and almost intact, as they were then. They are the so-called "cobbled paths" (in greek kalderimi) with stones arranged in order to form little steps so that mules with heavy loads can cross them without risk. Today, they serve as "hiking trails" ideal for anyone wishes to discover greek nature in full abundance; rich in springs, streams, arched stony or wooden bridges.