The little train of Pelion transports four cars of modern travelers across mythical routes of Olympian gods and centaurs, over mountainous terrain studded with lush vegetation. According to legend, this is where Achilles was born, where man-horse creatures battled over lovely Ippodameia, and where wise centaur Heiron, Achilles' tutor, maintains a hillside cave. Tall stands of plane, olive and pine trees line the 15k route of one of Greece's most scenic railways.
The historic train that formerly connected the seaside city of Volos with traditional villages on Mt. Pelion now operates only from Ano Lehonia to Milies. Midway, it stops in Ano Gatzea, where welcoming tavernas serve mezes, tsipouro and other libations.
From 1892–1903, Evaristo De Chirico, father of renowned painter Giorgio De Chirico, oversaw the railway's construction. His son, born in Volos, was a keen observer of the new means of transportation that later inspired him to include a tiny train, half-eclipsed by limestone walls or arched bridges, in many works.
As it chugs along 60cm gauge line, some of the world's narrowest track, steam plumes from the train's smokestack. The whistle blows and passengers gape at panoramas of deep gorges, arched bridges and turquoise Pagasitikos Bay. Toward the end of its 90-minute journey, the train crosses Taxiarhis Bridge, a steel construction nicknamed “De Chirico’s Bridge” for the unique engineering that enables a train to pass over a straight bridge on a curved track.