The Thessalian Mt. Pelion lies between the Aegean and the Pagasitikos Gulf, from Keramidi to the overhang of Trikeri. The lush vegetation along with the background endless blue of the sea make up a mythical landscape, a fact recognized since ancient times. Here was the place where the battle of the Titans took place as well as the sacred cave of “Extreme Zeus”. In this cave, people went to ask Zeus to send rain on the hottest day of the year in July. In these hillsides Peleus married his second wife, the Nereid Thetis, who gave birth to Achilles. The dense forests were inhabited by the centaurs of Pelion, the most famous among them being Chiron.
Some of their pupils were Hercules, Achilles, Jason and Asclepius. Asclepius excelled in medicine to such an extent that surpassed his teacher. He created the symbol of the snake, which had some therapeutic importance and laid the foundations of medical science. With wood from the forests of Pelion, the Argonauts constructed their ship 'the Argo' which was dedicated to Poseidon and set out to discover the way to the unknown countries, spreading Hellenism.
The mountain of Pelion has been inhabited for many years. Systematic settlements began to appear in the 12th century and was mainly for monks. The 24 villages of Pelion began to take their current form and boomed during the period of the Ottoman rule. During this period many residents of the surrounding areas in an attempt to escape from the stifling slavery, fled to Mt. Pelion. The villages were granted special privileges and thus people managed to organise their communities, create crafts and excel in trade. They prospered and grew economically. This happened because the region of Pelion belonged to the Sultan’s mother, Valide Khanum and had been given autonomy.
The villages were separated into ‘Vakoufia’ whose capitals were Argalasti and Makrynitsa and into 'Chasia', which were ruled by the Pasha of Larissa. Their economic development had reached such a point that they exported products. Whole of mule caravans, carrying mainly woven cloth and shoes, set off from the villages of Pelion destined for the Black Sea, the Eastern Mediterranean, Vienna and other European capitals. Along with the booming economy, many schools and libraries were founded. Many intellectuals of the time sought refuge in Pelion where they enjoyed a status of relative freedom. Many schools of national repute operated in the district and Pelion emerged as a lighthouse of the Greek Enlightenment.
The great teacher of the Greek Nation, Rigas Fereos was educated in Zagora, Pelion. All these contributed to the creation of the rich tradition of Pelion, both in arts and letters and in the manners and customs as well, a tradition that remains alive and can be sustained when someone ascends the slopes of Mt. Pelion.