The fourth part of Long Pelion Trail which can be walked in one day is also the most popular, soft and pleasant hike in the area of Pelion.
Two of the largest and most visited villages of the peninsula, Makrinitsa and Portaria, are connected via a well-preserved and beautiful path.
The trail follows landscapes of different vegetation and terrain patterns, such as well-maintained cobbled alleys in the heart of the settlements, as well as grasslands and mountainous forests. Another intriguing feature of this part of LPT is that it covers a wide elevation gain, since we start our path from the upper neighborhoods of Volos, almost at the sea level, and ascend very close to the high peaks of the mountain, at an altitude higher than 1000m. This daily hiking route definitely offers a complete picture of the natural beauty and of the rich topography of Pelion.
Once an autonomous settlement in the Volos area, Koukourava is now a depedency of Makrinitsa. The settlement runs along a passable but nevertheless quite steep land strip arranged with terraces, between a rocky wing of the gorge of Makrinitsa and the ravine of Megalo Rema.
The settlement extends beside the large cobbled path of Makrinitsa-Volos, which is maintained in excellent condition. The houses are all reconstructed or restored large mansions of Pelion: among them stands the mansion of Vaitzis, built in 1761 and the Tower of Skotiniotis.
The name of the settlement, of Slavic phonetic, differs from the names of the neighboring villages and implies a stronger relationship of the settlement with the nuclei of Central Thessaly, such as the area of Karla, where Koukourava established in the middle of the 20th century a small branch, Kalivia (today Kato Amygdali).
The parish church of the settlement is dedicated to Mary Magdalene. It is a three-aisled domed basilica, formerly dedicated to St. George.
It’s a small but very charming village which bears the name of the old local monastery. Built on the west coast of Krafsidonas stream, which the locals call Mega Rema (Great Stream), the village is a typical example of how tradition can be expressed today. Very close to the town square looms the mansion of Zafeiriou, with azure colored shutters and blue door, one out of the many splendid neoclassical buildings of the area. Just above the village, the flowing fresh water of the stream saturates a hidden waterfall and wakes up our senses. Close to the bank of the stream, which is cloaked with vivid plane trees, one can find the chapel of Ai Nikolaki tou Kremastou, built literally in the rocks.
Stagiates is a picturesque, small village of 121 inhabitants, located between Makrinitsa and Portaria, offering splendid view to the city of Volos and Pagasitikos bay.
At the town square the visitor finds a marvelous fountain, built during the Ottoman Empire and featuring an Arabic writing.
The village was always known for its flowing fresh water and the traditional recipe for sausages. Loukanikades, as the locals used to call the sausage cooks, were famous for their special skills and the products were very popular in the broader area. Over time, the interest in this different economic activity was lost. Nowadays, in July every year the visitors enjoy the “Sausage Celebration” at the town square. In the past, another profitable activity which rose was the textile industry, since the abundant fresh water enabled the development of “ntristela”, a large wooden waterway where the whitening of the cloths used to take place.
During the Ottoman Empire, Stagiates was one of the mahalas (neighborhood) of Makrinitsa. In 1912 it became a separate-distinct community, whereas in 1999 it appertained to the municipality of Portaria. Finally, in 2011 the settlement got integrated into the municipality of Volos.
This beautiful settlement looks like it’s hanging loose above Volos, observing the hustle and bustle of the city. Within a close distance from Volos, it serves as a “gate” to the fascinating world of Pelion. In the heart of the town of Portaria the visitor can find many traditional guesthouses, bars, restaurants and local shops.
In the center of the village we can look around the remarkable manor houses which are fully renovated and serve as guesthouses. One of them, Zoulia mansion, hosts the Historical and Folklore museum. Another famous sight of Portaria is the church of Agioi Anargiroi, built in the period 1791-1891 and surrounded with lively hydrangeas. The number of inhabitants of the village today is 552 and hosts the administrative center of the homonymous municipal unit where the settlements of Agia Paraskeui, Agios Ioannis, Alli Meria, Goritsa, Katochoria and Stagiates are also incorporated.
The village of Chania is located at 1200m of elevation and it’s the most mountainous settlement of Magnesia prefecture. It got its name from the numerous chania, which used to be inns, providing accommodation and simple food to chandlers and other travelers in the past. This small site is surrounded by impressive beech and pine forests and offers the basic tourism services. Only 2km far from the village, at an area called Agriolefkes, we find the organized ski resort of Pelion.
Karamani or “Zoodochos Pigi” sanatorium
This is an extended complex of buildings, built in 1907, which remained open and operational until 1966. Before the sanatorium was established, the former building served as a chani, a traditional inn for travelers. The sanatorium was founded by Georgios Karamanis, who was a world famous doctor for tuberculosis, coming from the village of Drakeia in Pelion. Karamanis envisaged the establishment of a healing retreat, in this exquisite location, which would support not only the physical health of the patients but also their mental balance. Very soon, the sanatorium became a meeting center for intellectuals and artists in order for them to exchange ideas and their vision. Moreover, it was one of the best- equipped institutions, supplied with the first artificial pneumothorax in the country. Nowadays, the buildings are empty and abandoned. However, they offer a unique hiking experience.
Makrinitsa and Portaria provide many tourism services and can cover all of the visitor’s needs. There are also a few shops at Agios Onoufrios and Chania. The trail passes by many toughs, fountains and natural springs.
This path follows the most well-preserved cobbled alleys of Pelion. We face a few small problems after Alikopetra until we enter the black pine forest heading for Chania, due to the partially eroded ground and the thorny bushes. During the winter months, the part from Alikopetra to Chania might be covered with snow.