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FYTOKO – LESTIANI – MONI SOURVIAS

A stone’s throw from Nea Ionia, just 3 km northwest is located the village Fytoko. From Fytoko we descend into the formed by the stream Kaliakouda gorge, where in its deepest point there is a picturesque arched stone bridge. We keep walking to the north for 6.5 km, where we find the church of Panagia Lestianis. Keep in mind that just before the church, on the right there is a path that leads within 10 minutes to a three-arched stone bridge. In 3.5 km we find the monastery of Sourvia, which during the Ottoman Empire, along with the monastery of Flamouri, were the biggest ones in the area. The monastery was build during the first half of 16th century by Saint Dionysios of Olympus and was renovated in 18th century by Saint Gerasimos. It is of fortress architecture, has remarcable frescoes and has been used as a base during the Greek Revolution. And this is where our little adventure ends, to follow the same route back.

FYTOKO – LAGONIKA – POURI

Distance: 22 km

Duration: approximately 9 hours (with stops)

Marking: red marks

Starting point: Monastery Gorgoepikou Fytokou

Maximum altitude: 1290 m. (Lagonika)

Drinking water in the path: no

Wikiloc Everytrail  (download GPS track)

This is one of the largest routes in Pelion, following in the footsteps of keratzidon (conductive) and loggers who were moving on the wooded hillsides.

Anyone who arrived in Lagonika coming from the northeastern Pelion, had the following main features: a. Proceed southwest to Chamorigani, from there to turn left passing Elatorema and then through the bridge Karya to arrive at Tranos Isoma. b. To follow the northwest path to Antovito and from there could either continue north to Kokkinogeia-Ano Kerasia-Flambouri or through Monastery of Sourvia to head south to the bridge of Alevizo-Fytoko-Volos or west to Kato Kerasia Lake and Karla. c. Halfway to Antovito they could turn southwest, taking another path to the chapel of St. Nicholas, passing the ravine Kaliakouda a bit above the bridge of Lestianis, to go out in the clearing of Loutsa and from there to Fytoko and Volos. This latter route will be described here, walking from Volos to Puri.

We arrive from Volos to Fytoko by car and just before the parking lot to the church, we follow the cement-paved road left up to the monastery Panagia Gorgoepikou (there are signs). At the left of the monastery entrance starts a narrow trail road (only for jeeps). We take the road and 1300 meters away we park the car and start trekking by the corral following the north-northwest direction. The soil is rocky, smooth, with sparse flora.

A while after, the trail begins to descend towards a shallow ravine. We go up to the ridge across, and then we follow the right path into an elongated field. At the end we follow the trail that goes up towards the northeast and arrive in the large clearing of Loutsa, at the point located in the Military Geographical Service (692 m.). Next to that point there is a threshing. Right in front of us there is the unique tree of the area, and next there is a pond (Souvala) and a corral. At the west lies lake Karla. From here also begins the route Makrynitsa-Lestiani-Kato Kerasia.

From Souvala we follow down the glade on the north-northeast course. We soon turn right to enter a straight path full of plants vegetation that later begins to descend steeply, with successive zig-zags, to reach the great ravine of Kaliakouda. We cross the creek at the highest point above the bridge of Lestiani and go up the bank accross. At the Trail junction we turn left, to arrive at the chapel of St. Nicholas.

We follow the uphill trail road that starts in front of the church and we continue left along the ascending path. We take the left route at the trail cross that descends to the monastery of Sourvia. Then we follow the right route that continues uphill with open bends towards the northeast and comes in an open area. On the upper side the path becomes narrow. Soon we will see on our left a blue water pipe. We follow the pipe to reach a wide path on the right side of a ravine.

After the ravine begins a long valley and a bit higher there is a trail road that leads to Xirakia-Antovito. We keep on following the pipe to reach a square bench. At the crosspath we keep on following the pipe up right, to reach a long clearing with apple trees. Then we leave the pipe and walk straight ahead along the clearing. We go down to reach a ravine, we cross it to follow the bank accross among the oak trees to reach a clearing from where begins the road to Chamorigani. We take the road on the left that leads to Xirakia-Antovito and soon we reach a shallow creek.

From here we follow the eastern ascending path to reach the cross-path to Antovito. We take the right side of the path to reach an ascending path with red marks that leads to an oak forest. We go though the forest to find another crossroad, from where our path continues to the southwest.

We then reach a ravine on the left, we go down our path, which becomes narrow, we enter the oaks once again and at the clearing, we turn left, following the marks, to descend again to the ravine. We cross the ravine and through the descending south-east path, we reach the peak of Lagonika (1295 m.). This is the highest point of our route.

Then our path becomes descending. In front of us lays the peak of Pourianos Stavros, the highest one in Pelion (1624 m.). Everywhere around us are thick oak forests that cover the landscape, allowing us from a certain point to admire the great Lagonika ravine reaching the Aegean sea. We continue up the ravine to reach Kanalakia.

Here we see the path that comes from West haven – Makrynitsa to Pouri and goes down on a narrower path first towards north and then northeast, until we meet the groove brings water from the source of Lagonika. If you follow the groove to the left, you will reach the little source of Lagonika. We turn right towards Pouri, constantly marching along a rural road and next to the groove for an hour, to finally arrive at the chapel of Agia Marina, at an altitude of 1005 m., next to a large open cistern. The church was built over a century ago, right after the granting of the use of Pouri source by the local community in 1891, which was very important for the village. Actually, the first water reached the certain point on the feast day of Saint Marina on July 17.

We follow the groove, descending to the right by the church, to reach a trail road. On the right begins the path to Pouri. However, there is an alternative path that goes past the chapel of St. Elias. At the cross path we turn right, we pass a creek and finally we reach a path that goes through some chestnut trees. The path leads to a farm with apple trees. We then find the groove again, we turn right at the crosspath to reach Profitis Elias, where there is a wooden kiosk. The location offers spectacular views to Zagora, Chorefto Anilio and Mouresi, from the Aegean sea, up to Kotroni peak (1550 m.).

We follow down the road, we cross an estate to find our path again on our right. Out path descends to a road. We walk by the reservoir of the aqueduct, where the road ends left, to follow the path on the right that leads us to the village. The route ends at the church of St. Dimitrios on Pouri square.

KISSOS

Kissos is a small mountain village situated in a superb location at 520 meters altitude, literally hidden in lush vegetation and almost “invisible”, as it is located about 2 km above the main road. Access to Kissos has improved in recent years thanks to the new road that connects the village with Chania: driving from Chania to the ski center of Agriolefkes, we find on our left a small sign Kissos. Following this indication through some dense forests we arrive in fifteen minutes at Kissos.

The beech and chestnut forests wrapped around the village are so tall and dense that at some points become impenetrable. Ivies of all kinds twist around the tree trunks, giving the village a special uniqueness, while maintaining its traditional color. It is a landscape embraced by the green and the most magnificent view over the Aegean, where you can easily relax and dream. Everybody who has visited Kissos has literally loved it.

Its beautiful cobbled square is dominated by the basilica of Agia Marina, that is considered one of the best and most representative ecclesiastic monuments on Mount Pelion. Agia Marina is famous for its history, its architecture and interior design. Built in 1650, it still impresses visitors with its gilded carved iconostasis inside, the four domes on the roof of the central aisle, painted by Constantine Pagonis and a number of frescoes of Byzantine icons and genre scenes. The first dome depicts Santa Marina and scenes from her life. The second dome depicts the Virgin Mary, the third depicts Christ and the fourth God as a venerable old man. The illustrations are very well preserved and the sacred temple, the famous landmark of the village and attracts many visitors each year.

On July 17th takes place the feast of Santa Marina with traditional dances and songs and with the participation of the entire village, while on September 20 is celebrated the memory of St. Eustatius. In the picturesque square you will come across the bust of Rigas Feraios.

Just outside Kissos, there are areas to visit on a horse or a 4×4, truly seducing paradises with numerous images of wild natural beauty and trails for all hiking lovers. There are small treasures for the traveler who wants to discover something of the unique charm of this landscape.

Kissos is a place to visit throughout the year. During winter (when the mountain is not snowy) you can go up to the ski center of Agriolefkes, located within walking distance. The new road connecting Chania with Kissos is then closed as it becomes a ski slope. In the summer you can go down for a swim at the sandy beaches of Agios Ioannis and Papa Nero or Damouchari, the fascinating beach with white pebbles.

Kissos is a village that gives you a genuine feeling of warmth, peace and tranquility, so it is ideal for both holidays or just a small stop.

 

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MAKRINITSA – STAGIATES

Distance: 5.8 km
Duration: 2 hours (net time 1.40)
Altitude: 630 m. (Makrinitsa) at 285 m. (Kappa bridge) at 398 m. (Stagiates)
Signage: signs, red marks
Drinking water in the path: yes

Wikiloc    Everytrail   (download GPS track)

This is a circular route, with starting point the square of Makrinitsa and descending initially the track to Volos. Arriving in Koukourava, the lower district of Makrinitsa, we cross the Great stream from the arched stone bridge and we follow the path that ascends to Stagiates. From there, we follow the eastern path-track passes over the stream and returns to Makrinitsa. The path of course goes vice versa, or you can only go a part of it. Advantages are the stunning views of the sea and the green slopes of the ravines.

There are two paths beginning at Makrinitsa square, next to the west side of the church. The one on the right starts a bit ascending, leading to Sarakino and Fytoko. We will follow the one on the left, which is wider and consists a true masterpiece, going through the village houses.

We pass by the churches of St.Athanasios and St.George and as we approach the road, the track turns right and a bit later it becomes inaccessible. That’s why at the certain point we will follow the road, passing first by the Stafylopatis mansion. A bit later we will meet our track again and follow it descending towards Nanos mansion.

We pass by the plane tree next to a fountain without water, and then we come across two intersections of cobbled tracks on the right, that descend to Volos. We will continue straight, pass a fountain without water and a dry triple fountain with a plane tree and then descend on the road (at this point there is a sign to the house of Argiro). Across descends a narrow road. We follow it and immediately turn right into the path that brings us to Tampakika area in the Great stream. Here we see the double-arched stone bridge of Kappa next to the tannery ruins. As shown in the photo, some stones are missing from the base of the eastern arc, creating concerns for the stability of the bridge. Hopefully it will soon be restored.

We cross the stream and on the other side we find two paths. The one on the right descends by the stream to Aidonofolies – Agios Onoufrios. We will follow the one on the left that descends the slope. A bit later we come across an ascending road, and we turn right. A bit later we will meet our path again on our left and we follow it ascending. Then we reach the first houses of Stagiates. We walk a bit along the track – it’s better not to follow the red arrow that turns left, but continue straight for a bit longer and slide left on the cemented track with the steps. that leads to a road. A bit farther the road turns right and leads as to the church of St.Athanasios on Stagiates sq.

We then have the change to drink some cool water from the old fountain with the Arabic inscription beneath the shadow of two large plane trees, before we continue our journey across a paved ascending road. Then we come across another fountain, where we turn left on the track that goes beyond the asphalt. Fifty meters later we slide right on the ascending road, that leads to the convent of the Annunciation. On the left of it entrance continues a narrow rural road, that we follow, viewing before us Makrinitsa. Sometime later, to the point of a left u-turn, we leave the road and go straight to the path that leads to a wooden bridge, that was recently built by the residents of Stagiates. We cross the stream and follow the path that eventually leads to the entrance of Makrinitsa.

How to travel by road

From Athens

Travelling on the E75 Ethniki Odos (motorway) from Athens, you pass Lamia and drive on. After Almiros, you turn right following the signposts to Velestino. Then you turn right into the ringroad of Volos (signpost to Portaria) and then you continue up to Eleftheriou Venizelou (Iolkou) road into which you turn left, towards Pelion.

From Thessaloniki

Travelling on the E75 Ethniki Odos (motorway) from Thessaloniki, you pass Larissa, drive on and take the road to Velestino. After that you turn right into the ringroad of Volos (signpost to Portaria) and you continue up to Eleftheriou Venizelou (Iolkou) road into which you turn left, towards Pelion.

Tsipouradika (Tsipouro bars)

tsipouro bar pelion volos

 The visitors to the city would miss a lot if they failed to get to know the atmosphere of the tsipouro bars and to experience the tsipouro “mystagogy” (tsipouro served together with tasty tit-bits, most of them being sea-food). From the N.Ionia to the Anavro quarters and from Ano Volos to to the seaside, the almost 400 tsipouro bars add a colorful note of common people’s entertainment to the city and are the customary meeting place for many.

You shouldn’t miss visiting the colorful tavernas either. The small tavernas of the Old Port area, of Nea Dimitrada and Nea Ionia and the family tavernas of Volos have entertained many generations of revelers and gourmands. Near those tavernas, you will also find restaurants of international cuisine and tastes from all over the world.

Volos also has proposals for the rest of the night!

The scores of bars and cafes on the main pedestrian roads around St. Nicolas church, in the Palea quarter and on the seaside as well as live music places invite you to an all night revelry.

Tsipouro bars:… a living tradition

The story starts in the early 20s, when tsipouro bars were rare and tsipouro production low. It was then that serving the drink in small bottles of 25 (=0.25 ml) -called 25ers- became the habit. This was always accompanied by a few tit bits, mainly sea food, such as octopus, shrimps and others. Tradition has it that the habit of tsipouro served with sea food tit bits was brought to Greece by the Asian Minor refugees.

In the course of time there were changes and developments in the making of tsipouro, as well as the variety of the tit bits served with it.

Today every 25er is served with different tit bits, a ritual preserved over the years.

The 25er is a small bottle of tsipouro that fills a small glass.

In theory every one orders a 25er (as many times as he can take).

Every 25er comes with some tit bit proposals by the shop.

You can therefore sit at one of the many tsipouro bars of the city and just order 25ers for you and your company, leaving the choice of the tit bits to the bar you chose while you follow your own drinking tempo.

Cultural Events

The festivals of the prefecture are held during the summer in most places. Local festivals are the best events incorporating customs of long established tradition. They feature folk orchestras, traditional musical instruments, and they usually take place on the day of the saint patron of the place, on the ground of the church dedicated to him/her. The locals celebrate and have a good time till dawn, while there are often festivities that last more than one day. The various festivals of the local municipalities and clubs are remarkable since they contribute to the revival and preservation of traditional customs and so keep the flame of culture alive” in the area.

January

Epiphany day on 6th January is a special occasion. The cross is tossed into the chilly sea water by the priest and is subsequently retrieved by the more daring locals who dive for it in competition. In Velestino you can watch the revival of the traditional custom of “Ragatsaria”

February

Musical and dancing events are held in the Sourpi area.

The Apple festival takes place at the mountainous village of Zagora

At the end of the month, “The Welcoming of Spring” is revived and local festivities are held on the last Sunday of the Carnival, in the area of Pteleos.

March

“Best Wine” competition, in Sourpi

Celebrating the local battle anniversary in Makrinitsa.

The Flower Festival in Portaria.

April

The biggest holiday in April is Easter and there are many customs characteristic of the various places. The custom of “Bouloto” is special in Neochori on Easter Monday, while there are traditional dances on the island of Sciathos, on the same day.

 In Keramidi, Sciathos, Agria and elsewhere, festivals are held to celebrate St. Georgios day.

May

On 1st May, special celebrations are held in Kanalia.

Higher up on Mt. Pelion, in the village of Panakates, a festival is held on the second and third Saturday of May.

Farther South, in Lafko, there is a festival, at the St. Athanassios monastery, on 1st May. At the end of the month, Agria becomes the meeting place for a choir coming together.

School student theatrical performances and concerts are held by the municipal conservatory of Almiros.

On 9th May, a festival takes place at the Alia settlement -formerly known as “Baklali” of Almiros. It is held in commemoration of St. Nikolaos, the New. The merry-making starts after the mass, with live traditional folk music, a real jewel of popular customs.

June

Fishing evening in Trikeri, a 3-day festivity during the summer months,

Cherry festival at the settlement of Agios Lavrendios, in the first half of the month.

People’s festival in Pinakates and other Pelion villages on 29th and 30th  June.

Revival of the traditional custom of Klidonas, burning of the wreaths, traditional dances and other summer cultural events organized by the municipalities of Mouressio, Afeton and Zagora.

The European Music Day is celebrated in Volos.

July

Traditional festival commemorating St. Anargiri Day, in the Neochorion area, on 1st of the month.

Summer cultural events (musical concerts, theatrical shows), at the“Aloni” theater in Agios Georgios of Nilia.

Cultural events in the context of the “Marine Week”, in the municipality of Sourpi: plays, puppet shows.

Cultural events in Makrinitsa, the culmination being the revival of the folk custom of “Maides”

Festivals are held in many villages on 20th July commemorating Agios Elias.

Cotton festival in the municipality of Karla.

Fishing evening with traditional dances in Trikeri, Nea Anchialos, Agria, Almiros and Pouri.

Tsipouro festival in Katichori

Musical events, at the little port of Kato Gatzea.

Sausage festival in Stagiates.

Cultural events called “Theophilia”, in the municipality of Iolkos.

International Guitar festival, in Lafko, together with other summer cultural events.

August

Fishing evenings in Sourpi, Kanalia, Achillio and Loutraki of Scopelos.

Coming together of refugee dancing groups, in Stefanovikio.

A “bazaar” -traditional fair-, in the municipality of Aissonia.

At Efxinoupoli of Almiros: Various: celebrations commemorating the Dormition of Panagia (Virgin Mary), with traditional bands and customs revival, with a different theme every year. Also, “Babo’s” fete.

Religious celebration of Panagia’s Day. Fairs are organized in most villages of the prefecture.

Festivities celebrating the anniversary of the liberation of Almiros city from the Turks (cultural events with plays, music and choir singing; also local products exhibition).

In Kala Nera, cultural events take place in the context of the “Cultural Summer”. In Vizitsa, traditional cultural activities are held throughout the month.

In the small village “Chorto” there are cultural events throughout the month (musical events, theatrical performances, dancing and various workshops), throughout August.

19/08 – 02/09: “Moussiko Chorio”, a music festival that has become an institution in Agios Lavrendios.

Various cultural events on the archaeological sites on the day of the full moon of August.

Cooking competition in Agios Demitrios of Pelion.

Wine festival in Nea Anchialos

Olive and olive-oil festival with musical and dancing events and a local product exhibition, in Achilion.

A festival on the ground of Panagias Plakas Chapel, commemorating Panagia Lampidona, in the municipal department of Neochorio and Lampinos.

A fair in the Agios Ioannis Prodromos Monastery, at Siki and other parts of the prefecture.

September

A sea sailing competition of An. Thalassa “Aeolos” is held jointly with the IOBAΘ, in Kato Gatzea.

Firiki (an apple variety) festival in Vizitsa.

October

Chestnut festival in the Mouressio municipality.

November – December

The Music Theater of Volos Festival.

Christmas celebration with the municipal orchestra, in the Anavra community.