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Portaria

Our effort to identify the first citings of this village led to the book by William Martin Leake, (1777-1860) Travels in Northern Greece, volume 4, London (1835). There we found several references to some villages of Pelio including Portaria. According to his report there were five schools on Mount Pelion for teaching Hellenic at Makrinitza, Dhrakia, Portaria, Zagora and Milies. He reports that the lands of Makrinitza and Portaria produced a sufficiency of oil to admit of the sale of a small quantity in the alternate years. These regions were producing silken articles of a smaller kind, such as cords, girdles, and purses made by the women in some of the towns particularly Bolos, Makrinitza and Portaria. It's worth noticing Martin's reference of these regions as towns. His report indicates that Portaria contains about 700 makhaladhes (small neighborhoods) that implies that Portaria was a major economical and cultural center in the 19th century. This view is re-enforced by another traveler, Dodwell, Edward (1767-1832), in his book "A Classical and Topographical Tour Through Greece, during the Years 1801, 1805, and 1806". Volume 2, London (1819). Dodwell remarks that Pelion is adorned with 24 large and wealthy villages, some of which merit rather the appellation of cities, particularly Bolos, Portaria, Makrinitza and Agios Georgios. He reports that in an hour we reached Portaria situated in a forest of platani and chestnuts and proceeding higher up as we arrived at Makrinitza. Both of these towns are inhabited by Greeks of strong and athletic forms who are sufficiently brave and numerous to despise their neighbors, the Turks. The streets are irrigated by incessant rills and the clearest fountains, and shaded by platani, fig trees and chestnuts of the largest size, which are thickly entwined by ample ramifications of vines of prodigious dimensions, and clustering with an exuberance of grapes. In a footnote: Callimachus assigns to Mount Pelion the poetical denomination of "Cheironides akrai", on account of its having been the habitation of the Centaur Chiron. (Callimachus: Hymn in Delum, line 104).

Several chronological quotes about the economy of Portaria are cited by Hourmouziadis et al in the book Magnesia: The story of a civilization. Specifically, (1791) "Here both men and women work finely spun silken thread, with which they fashion string ribbons and lace, belts and sashes, etc.". (1805)" Here in Portaria, the villagers have begun to work with silk, making string-ribbons, scarves, and other handiworks". (1836) "Here we must describe Portaria as a home of arts and crafts, as well as a land of commercial enterprise". (1860) "The inhabitants are either engaged in commerce or in the pursuit of crafts. The women as well are engaged in the making of ribbons and cords, of silken and cotton scarves, of silken sashes similar to those of Messini, in Sicily, of various head-dress, of silken mosquito-netting, of wonderful woolen stockings, of sandals and footwear of all manner and kind, both European and Anatolian, of waxen candles and other waxen items. In addition, as in Makrinitsa, there is a considerable amount of tanning performed here, where high quality leather is treated and dyed, of which a great quantity is exported to Constanti nople". (1874) "The inhabitants of Portaria (are occupied) with considerable success in a number of industries". (1894) "A considerable amount of property was early given over to industry, which prospered greatly over the years, through the manufacture of silken ribbons and cords. In recent years, however, the productivity has been greatly reduced, and industry within the village has been drastically curtailed".

The builders of this page will appreciate any additional information with respect to the history of Portaria and all the magnificent villages of Pelion.

Portaria is still one of the biggest and most well known villages on Pelion, 13 Kilometers, NE of Volos, on the way to the Hania-Skiing resort and Zagora A high vegetation resort of 650 m altitude with an excellent view to the Pagasiticos gulf, with endless spring waters and with a few old renovated three story mansions - operating as traditional pansions in Pelion architecture - remaining even today. Karavos fall is vey impressive and is situated near the main road. Its waters come from a near-by-spring, called Mana well - worth seeing. Virgin Mary of Portarea, to which Portaria owes its name according to one version, located near St. Nicholasin the main square is also well -worth seeing, as well as the very many chapels printed on the map like St. John's chapel and further up, Mana. Every summer Portaria offers a rich program of cultural activities organized by its own cultural organization Orminion and the municipality board led by the very energetic and creative Vassilis Kontorizos. In the near future we will announce the cultural program for summer 1996. Orminion issues a newsletter that can be ordered through the address Koinotiko (Municipality) of Portaria,Magnesias, 370 11 Portaria. Portaria and all villages in Pelion are characterized by special architecture. The picture on the left shows a typical pelion architecture.

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