PELION is one of the most lyrical regions of Greece, fruitful, leafy and alive with the sound of running water. The name is commonly used to refer to the peninsula formed by the southern slopes of Mount Pelion (which rises to 1,551 meters, 5,089 feet), though it is more correctly Magnesia. Pelion has long been celebrated for its villages, and in Ottoman times was confusingly (given the presence on the other side of Greece of the Zagorochoria) referred to as the villages of Zagora, after the most eminent of their number. Early nineteenth-century travelers reported that this was the richest and most cultured region of mainland Greece, with the finest houses.
Mount Pelion itself was famously piled upon Mount Ossa in Greek mythology as a stepping Stone to heaven by the giants during their tussle with the gods. And the strange thing is that long ago, too long one imagines to be part of any human memory, something of the sort seems to have happened: Thessaly was once an enormous lake until a convulsion between Mounts Pelion and Ossa opened up the Vale of Tempe between them and the waters gushed out into the sea. Magnesia, lush, mountainous, and heavily forested, was ever the stuff of myths and a certain trepidation, the home of wild, hairy, Stone Age men (Lapiths), of Strange but wise and ancient creatures (centaurs), not to mention nymphs (such as Cyrene) given to wrestling with lions. Most classical references to Magnesia are so ancient as to be quasi-mythological.