One of the biggest villages of Pelion, Zagora is popular for its cultural heritage from the 17th and 18th century, as well as, nowadays, for the production of quality fruits like apples and "firikia". It was built in the traditional Pelion architectural style, and sits at an altitude of approximately 480 metres. Zagora is at a distance from Volos of 47 kilometres, taking the road through Chania, and 83 kilometres, taking the road through Tsagkarada.
The name “Zagora” is believed to be of Slavic origin (10th century AD), coming from the word “zagkore” meaning “place behind the mountain»”
The history of Zagora has its roots in ancient times. Archaeological findings in the region, ruins of an ancient village and ancient coins, have led archaeologists to the belief that this was the site of the historical city ”Thafmakiis”, which is mentioned by the geographer Skylakas in his work “Periplus” (6th century BC).
Towards the end of the Byzantine period, because of the fear of pirate raids, the residents moved to the current site.
The 17th and 18th century was the most interesting period of Zagora’s history. The production of cultivated silk (32 tons per annum), silk crafts and woven fabrics produced significant economic wealth. The export trade and the great maritime traffic forced traders in the region to establish businesses in the cities of central Europe and Black Sea.
In the 17th century, in the Church of the “Holy Cross” monks teach the Greek language in Pelion.
With economic assistance and support from prosperous residents of Zagora, in 1702 or 1712 the first school building was erected in the village; this has since evolved into the high school “Ellinomouseion”, also known as the “School of Riga”. Around 1762, educated people and wealthy merchants who had had the opportunity to travel to major cities abroad such as Izmir, Alexandria, Venice, etc., gave financial and material donations to improve the school and helped to create a library.
In the library of Zagora there are numerous books and historical manuscripts, rare editions printed by leading academies and colleges of Europe.
The curriculum in “Ellinomouseion” included Ancient Greek, Latin, Philosophy, History, Religion, Geography, Physics, Mathematics and French.
The school originally taught the priest Constantine, monk Fotios, Raphael, Parthenios, David, Tim and subsequent teachers Konstantinos Triantaphyllides and Nikolaos Cassavetes.
Students of the school were personalities and leaders of the Greek Revolution, such as Rigas Velestinlis (Rigas Feraios), the clergy and scholars Anthimos Gazis, Gregory Konstantas, Patriarch Lapatis (Archbishop of Constantinople), Philip John (Pantos), the first professor of philosophy at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens.
The teaching in “Ellinomouseio” or the “School of Riga” ended with the start of the Greek Revolution.
For more historical information, please visit the website: http://www.libver.gr:4610
Zagora is also the birthplace of the poet George Drosinis (http://www.drossinismuseum.com) and the historian and politician John Kordatos.
In 1999, Zagora became a municipality with a population of about 4,900 residents. The inhabitants are now mainly occupied with crops and the fruit trade as well as tourism enterprises
Walking through the picturesque streets of Zagora admiring the beautiful mansions and their colourful windows.
Swimming off the nearby beaches at “Horefto”, “Agioi Saranta”, “Makrirachi”, “Ovryos”, “Elitsa” and many others.
Rest in the picturesque square of St. George.
“Ellinomouseio” school, and the historic Library of Zagora (1760) with its rare books and manuscripts, behind the square of St. George. For more information, please visit the website: http://www.libver.gr:4610
Old churches, such as “Saviour Transfiguration” district of the Saviour, "Agia Kyriaki" (1740) with wood carvings, Agia Paraskevi (1803) and the chapel of the Prophet Elias (17th century) in the district Perachora. Moreover, the churches of St. Demetrius (17th century) and St. Nicholas (18th century).
In September, “Milos Festival”, organised by the women of Zagora, a festival with food and dancing.
Text Niki Vafeidou