Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Ano Lechonia -Paliokastro -Agios Vlasios (circular)

Paliokastro
Distance: 3,4 km (one way) / 6,5 km (circular)
Time: 1.15' (one way) / 2.15' (circular)
Altitude: from 85 m. (Ano Lehonia) to 305 m. (Agios Vlasios)
Total ascent/descent: 302 m.
Signed with red paint and various signs
Drinking water on walk: yes (Paliokastro, Agios Vlasios)
Download GPS track: from Wikiloc

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        At the area of Paliokastro (meaning ''old castle''), between Ano Lechonia and Agios Vlasios, there are ruins of a medieval fortification, and also the remains of a minaret from the Ottoman era mosque. In this circular walk, we walk from Ano Lechonia to Paliokastro on the traces of the old path, and from there to Agios Vlasios on kalderimi. We return back to Ano Lechonia through a connection to the kalderimi coming from Agios Georgios.
            From the main road junction at Ano Lechonia, at the bus stop (Volos city bus nr. 5), we start walking on the asphalt road going towards Agios Vlasios, crossing the rails (the Pelion train station is on our right and, if we have a car, we can leave it at the parking there).
Ano Lechonia train station
           After 100 m. there is a V-junction, where we leave the main asphalt and take the asphalt to the right, leading to the square. On our left is the main church of Agios Athanasios, under the shade of high plane trees. We climb some steps, cross the main asphalt at an angle to the right and continue on a narrow stone paved road, soon becoming asphalt again, obviously an ex-calderimi.
        A little higher up, we come to cross the main asphalt again. Here is a lone tree and a road mirror. Just after crossing the asphalt, we face another V-junction. This time we take the narrow asphalt road to the left, following a blue sign in Greek to ''ΚΟΙΜΗΤΗΡΙΟ'' (cemetery). The road bends gently through old mansions and estates.
Earth path through olive groves
       After 300 m., as the road takes a left turn downhill, we leave it to the right and follow an earth path next to a stone wall, on a northerly direction. The path enters an olive grove climbing gently, marked with red paint. On the slope we can see ruins of fortification.
Fortification ruins on the slope
          Eventually, the path joins an earth road, on which we continue uphill. We come to a junction and go right. After some more climbing, our road starts going downhill and joins a concrete paved road, on which we continue downhill to the right and come to the church of 12 Apostles, a good place to have a stop. If we walk on the earth track, in a few meters we`ll reach the ruins of a minaret, the only remains left  of an old mosque from the Ottoman period.
Ruins of the minaret at Paliokastro
             We continue downhill on the narrow paved road and come to the small square of Paliokastro, sadly empty of people. At least the drinking water fountain keeps running. The road opens down to the main asphalt, crossing the stream over a concrete bridge, next to the old arched stone bridge, patiently waiting to be restored by the authorities. Just after the bridge, we can see the kalderimi to Agios Vlasios climbing on the left.
         Higher up we climb some concrete steps opening to an asphalt road and continue on the uphill kalderimi, marked with red paint (we don`t have to keep walking on the asphalt). This brings us to the square of Agios Vlasios (formerly called Karabassi, a turkish word meaning ''blackhead''). At the square operates a restaurant for refreshments or food. From here we also have the option to continue  walking to Agios Lavrentios (one way or circular). 
Agios Vlasios
         Now, to return back to Ano Lechonia, we climb the track to the right that leads to the homonymous main church (of Agios Vlasios) and continue on the asphalt road. We go past the pharmacy store and, at the left turn of the asphalt, we leave it to the right and descend on a kalderimi, which opens down to a narrow asphalt road and we go left. Further on, we cross the main asphalt at an angle and continue on the other side on a road becoming kalderimi. We immediately reach a junction with the kalderimi that goes from Ano Lechonia to Agios Georgios (attention!). Here we turn right downhill towards Ano Lechonia. After the small chapel of Agios Achillios, the kalderimi opens down to the main asphalt, om which we walk as it takes a sharp turn. At the end of that turn we take the downhill concrete track on the left. Further down, concrete paving stops and the kalderimi reappears. We can see views of Paliokastro on our side as we descend amidst olive groves.
The small concrete bridge
       We come to cross the stream over a small concrete bridge and, after 100 meters on the main asphalt, seeing a shrine at the junction, we take the concrete paved track on the right and walk on this down on a straight line, back to our starting point.