VISITING PELION PENINSULA
During the month of August 2020 we thought that it would be wiser to stay still and avoid wandering around the Greek archipelago. Despite the pandemic outbreak, a lot of tourists had arrived. In the latest years, sailing holidays have become more and more popular and the quantity of charter boats in Greek waters is overwhelming. Boats have also increased in size, but sailing skills seem to have impoverished. Unexperienced crews can now rent 50 footers and mess around for a week or two. Anybody who have lately sailed around Greece, in the middle of summer, knows what we are talking about. Overcrowded and unorganised fishing harbours are a standard and berthing manoeuvres can become a danger at any moment. During high season, finding a berth for the evening has become a challenge. This is the main reason why we decided to stay in Pelion a bit longer and discover this mythical region.
One of the very well known myths in Greek mythology is “Jason and the Argonauts”. This voyage took place years before the Trojan war, around 1300 BC. The Epic poem “Argonautica” was written by Apollonius Rhodius in the 3rd century BC. It describes the voyage of Jason and the Argonautes to Colchis (far east of the Black Sea) in a quest for the Golden Fleece. “Argo” was the ship on which they sailed from Iolcus to Colchis, hence the name “Argonautes”. Iolcus was (and still is) located in Central Magnisia, north of the Pagasetic Gulf and near the modern city of Volos. Among the heroes who accompanied Jason were Heracles, Orpheus, Theseus and Laertes, father of Odysseus.
The Centaurs are famous mythological creatures of Pelion. They were half human half horse, very impulsive and violent. Those primitive beings lived in caves and were hunting wild animals. In ancient Greek temples the battle between the Centaurs and the Lapiths was a popular theme. One of the most famous Centaurs called Chiron, was the son of Cronus and the nymph Philyra. He was raised by God Apollo and was the wisest of all Centaurs, notable for his skills and knowledge in the art of music, archery, medicine and prophecy. Among his pupils were Asclipious, Achilles, Theseus, Jason and Perseus.
Tsagkarada, amongst the most beautiful villages of Pelion, is surrounded by a chestnut forest lying at 450 meters of altitude. It was founded around 1500 AD and according to the myth, the Centaurs lived in this forest. An outstanding element of the village is the one thousand years old plane tree, situated at the centre of Agia Paraskevi square. It is one of the oldest trees in Greece and Europe. The perimeter of its trunk exceeds 15 m and the roots are reaching a depth of 4 meters.
The flower gardens in Tsagkarada are filled with Hydrangea or Hortensia, a plant that is found in abundance all around Pelion. It originates from China and Japan and occupies every garden, balcony or square. It flourishes during the spring and summer months and, if the conditions are correct, stays flourished all summer long, creating an explosion of colours.
Five kilometers away from Tsagkarada is located a small and remote beach called Fakistra. As stated in some articles, it is one of the ten most beautiful wild beaches in Europe. The path that leads to the beach is narrow and, in some parts, quite steep.
Near Fakistra is another popular sight of Pelion, the tiny church of Panagia Megalomata.
Legend has it that a monk used to live here (around the 17th Century, during the Ottoman Empire) as a hermit. He was teaching children how to read and write greek and that is why, the spot is called ” to Krifo scholio”, the secret school.
“Music and dreams have no expiry date”.