Welcome to Magnesia, the secret gem of Greece to perfectly combine sea and mountains in a unique way. Located at the centre of Greece equally distant from Athens and Thessaloniki, occupying the east side of Thessaly, encloses the Pagasitic Gulf, while washed by the Aegean Sea right next to the Sporades islands, Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos. Great landscapes, significant archaeological sites, historical monasteries and churches, traditional villages of great architecture, developed in tourism settlements and the modern city of Volos, are some of the places that impress visitors.
Visit the capital city of Volos and the traditional villages of Portatia, Makrinitsa, Tsagarada, Zagora and Milies with their unique architecture to create a scenic winter destination, while the lovely beaches and resort villages along the coastline offer for relaxed holidays. Several luxury hotels, resorts and spas, along with myriads of traditional boutique villas can assure a pleasant and luxurious stay.
All year round tourism can be found at this blessed land, with lush mountains a ski centre, several hiking and horse riding routes, caves and wetlands along with sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters. Eco tourists as well as religious tourists, also find a little paradise to offer magical holidays.
Magnesia as a major destination for year round tourism, offers several ways of accessing this unique land, by air, sea, rail, or road. Magnesia hosts two airports, the one being in Nea Anchialos, only 19km from Volos and the other one at the neighbouring island of Skiathos. Regular daily flights connect the area with Athens and Thessaloniki, while during the summer period, several charger flights from European cities land at Magnesia. Once being at the beautiful islands of Sporades such as Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos, there are several boat routes to connect the islands with the port of Volos. The national railway services connect the city of Volos with Athens and Thessaloniki daily. For those wishing to explore the area at their own pace, major highways connect the area with Athens, Thessaloniki as well as the west coast of mainland Greece through Igoumenitsa. The national bus services link all the towns and villages of Magnesia with the main Greek cities.
The political capital, the commercial and cultural centre and the main port of the prefecture of Magnesia is the city of Volos, located at the very heart of the peninsula. Volos is a lively modern city that can get quite pleasant at the numerous paved streets around the harbour, ideal for walks around the myriads of shops, café-bars, restaurants and among all the famous tsipouradika to offer the local tsipouro with tasty mezes. The city's port links with the Sporades islands and features historical and cultural centres such as museums and galleries. From the foot of the Pagasitic Gulf where Volos is located, spreads the mountain of Pelion, according to mythology the summer resort of the 12 Gods of Olympus and the legendary country of Centaurs. Pelion is an area of exceptional natural beauty to combine, snowy mountains, sandy beaches and traditional villages of unique architecture, all within a few minutes ride. The first traditional hamlets to be found as ascending the mountain of Pelion from Volos are the villages of Portaria and Makrinitsa to amaze every visitor with the unique natural beauty and architecture. Old mansions charmed with wooden carved details, wall paintings, and stone roofs, surrounded by stone paved winding car-free streets with running waters on the sides are all parts of a mosaic to make this destination unforgettable. Beautiful historical churches, monasteries and museums are well worth a visit. One of the most touristic villages of Pelion is Tsagarada located in the middle of a chestnut wood forest with large flower garden houses and a huge and imposing one thousand-year-old plane tree located in the middle of a square, along with major churches. Last but not least, Zagora features remains of an ancient castle and a necropolis, along with folkloric museums.
SIGHTSEEING AND MONUMENTS
The prefecture of Magnesia is of great historical importance with several mythological references. Named after the local tripe of Magnetes, while being the homeland of Achilles' father Peleus, hosts the mythological town of Iolkos, where Jason with the vessel Argo left to Colchis in order to find the Golden Fleece. Therefore significant archaeological sites of ancient cities are scattered around the area, the most distinctive being Sesklo, Dimini, Dimitrias, Nea Aghialos and Almyros. Sesklo, one of the oldest European settlements, situated at the homonymous village presents a Neolithic settlement consisting of small houses, narrow streets with squares, where written ceramics, pottery made with advanced technique and tools were found. The Archaeological site of Dimini separates between the Neolithic and the Mycenaean area where an organized community was settled, while the latter includes two dome shaped tombs of the king. One of the biggest cities of antiquity was the Ancient City of Dimitrias as the former capital of the Macedonian state, where excavations revealed an ancient theater, a palace, the basilica of Damokrateia, the sanctuary of Apollo and the remains of a Roman aqueduct. Nea Aghialos houses one of the most centres of Early Christian Eastern Roman Thessaly, where relics of the the basilica of Bishop Peter and the Martyrium Basilica both dating from the 4th - 6th century can be admired along with some wonderful mosaics preserved in a fairly good condition. In Almyros, the Hellenistic town of Ancient Alos was found along with vessels, tools, jewellery and remains of houses. Additionally, remains of fortresses are also apparent at Lafkos and Promachonas.
A number of museums around the area are offered to the public as an insight to the local history, cultural heritage and traditions. The Athanassakeion Archaeological Museum in Volos hosts important collections dating from the Prehistoric to Roman times, exhibiting ceramics, statues, bone tools, weapons, coins, Neolithic figurines, clay models and vases, as well as a gold necklace. The Archaeological Museum of Almyros displays the locally found artefacts from the Neolithic, Mycenaean, Geometric, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods. Several museums with folkloric interest are to be found at the area such as the Folklore Museum of Almyros to present aspects of the local traditions, the Museum of Folklore Art in Makrinitsa with a fine collection of household objects, books, clothing, tools, flags and guns, the Kitsos Makris Folklore Centre to exhibit his valuable archives such as photographs, studies, murals, paintings, etc, the Rigas School or Greek museum to represent the oldest school of Pelion with students to change route of Greek history like Rigas Ferreos, or the Silk Museum, roofed under an old silk factory in Volos. The city of Volos is the artistic centre of the are as it houses a couple of art Galleries, one housed at the City Hall constructed by the famous architect Dimitrios Pikionis and the George De Chirico Art Centre to exhibit numerous paintings, sculptures, hagiographies, ceramics, mosaics, etc. The neoclassic Railway Station of Volos along with a marble statue of Athena, along with the Old Library in Milies featuring books referring to historical events during the Greek revolution against the Turks, are also worth a visit.
Magnesia features a large number of historic churches and monasteries among the most significant being the Church of Agioi Taxiarches situated at the central square of Milies. The church of unknown date of construction follows the architectural patters of a local house, used as a camouflage during the days of Ottoman occupancy, consequently lacks typical characteristics of a church such as bells or windows. This building of great acoustics, impressive frescoes and the Zodiac Cycle is also of historical significance as the scholar Anthimos Gazis raised the Greek flag of Revolution there.
THINGS TO DO
The extremely diverse morphology of the Magnesian ground, is the ideal platform for a number of activities to range form diving to skiing. The mountainous village of Hania, houses the Agriolefkes Ski Centre and resort with four fine slopes and eight ski runs ideal for skiers as well as snowboarders, fully equipped with lifts, accommodation, café and parking area. Magnesia is a hikers' paradise, with Pelion being the star of the show, with old mountain trails to connect several villages or several hiking paths across the hills. Another way to explore the natural beauty of the area is the old Little Train of Pelion, a part of history that turned into a tourist attraction following routes between Ano Lehonia all the way to Milies. Caving can also be practiced in Magnesia at the caves of the Centaurus in Agios Lavrentios and the old Migela nearby Horefto. Magnesia also offers for bird watching at the wetland of Sourpi a protected area with willow, pine and plane trees grow around salty marshes as a winter shelter for migratory birds like nightingales and herons, also to be found at Almyros. On the other hand, several birds are to be found at the mountains of Pelion such as several types of buzzards, eagles and woodpeckers between others. The lovers of horse riding can take lessons by the local horseback organization under the supervision of experienced teacher, in order to explore the region in a unique way. Other than the
wonderful highlands of Magnesia, the coastline is of equal beauty to be explored with canoes or small boats to be rented from the seaside village of Agii Saranta. Several diving schools organize excursions around the Pagasitic Gulf and the eastern coast to offer unique exploration opportunities as the seabed features clear and calm waters, seals, dolphins and a terrain will shipwrecks, reefs, vertical walls, enchanting sealife and much more to surprise any diver. Finally, as Magnesia is a proud producer of wine, a wine festival is organized annually by the local agricultural association to offer freely the fine local products.
Magnesia is equally known for its lush mountainous forests as well as its wonderful beaches, to be easily compared with some of the best beaches across the Greek islands. Next to the village Kissos is the beautiful sandy beach of Agios Ioannis, with a purely magical landscape including fabulous blue waters and green hills. Right next to it, visitors can find the huge Para Nero Beach, with fine white sand and blue waters. Another beach of exceptional beauty is Milopotamos with white sand and pebbles, turquoise waters surrounded by pine trees, while the rocks on the shore and divide the beach in different sections. For those seeking to avoid the crowds, the sandy Fakistra Beach is ideal, also featuring remains of an old castle. Last but not least, the seaport of Zagora, Horefto offers 2kms of long secluded sandy beaches with deep blue waters, Parissena, Analipsi, Litsa and Agioi Saranta.
The cuisine of Magnesia is equally rich and diverse as its natural landscape. Its fertile grounds and the cold climate at the hilly parts of the prefecture are ideal for the cultivation of chestnuts, walnuts, Konservolia olives, mushrooms, pears, cherries, roses, aubergines, quince, aromatic herbs and the world famous local apples from the area of Zagora. From the local diary products the one that stands out is Voustina, a soft grated full-fat cheese from goat's milk. It is well worth mentioning that the Women's Agro-tourist cooperative of Zagora is an established organization to produce traditional food, sweets, drinks and herbs to support the local economy and increase awareness of the Magnesian delicacies. Local specialities not to be missed are Spetsofai (a local dish made of fresh tomatoes, peppers and sausage), several dishes with potatoes, beans, goat or lamb. Along the coast fresh fish is always available, where lobster spaghetti or grouper stifado are local specialities. Finally, tsipouro along with the accompanied meze is a major aspect of the culinary tradition of the area.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Magnesia Railway Services: +30 24210 24056
Port Authority of Volos, +30 24210 28888, 38888
Magnesia Bus Services: +30 24210 25527
Volos Police: +30 24210 76920
Volos Tourist Police: +30 24210 39057, 72420
Volos Hospital: +30 24210 27531
Archaeological museum, +30 24210 25285
Agriolefkes Ski Centre: +30 24280 73719, 73702