Between West and East, Lesvos, the brightest of the “diamonds” of the Aegean Sea, has rightly been described as the “Island of Beauty and Harmony.” The unique, the unprecedented, the interesting, all are revealed when one lives in Lesbos and “gets lost” in the present…
It is difficult for someone to begin describing Lesbos using just a few words. That’s because the island does not have only one attractive denominator as many other tourist islands. It is a mosaic of attractions, with many unique natural beauties, rare geological monuments, tremendous changes in its landscapes, amazing archaeological treasures, settlements of excellent architectural beauty, wetlands, hiking trails, museums of considerable traditional value, unique local cuisine, live pagan events, pilgrimages known across the country.
One striking feature is the island’s many hot springs – almost a fourth of the countries hot springs are found here – the wetlands with the thousands of native and migratory birds and amphibians, the unique monument of the Petrified Forest, the well-known throughout the country monasteries (such as St. Raphael and Taxiarchi in Mandamados ) and pilgrimage sites, the religious events (where the Christian faith coexist with paganism), and of course the living spiritual tradition is constantly present in whatever manner of events even in the smallest villages.
One of the most beautiful locations in Greece is Molyvos (the ancient Mithymna) at the northern part of Lesvos. The Molivos Castle, built on the top of the village, by the Gatelouzon dynasty is in very good condition, one of the best preserved in Greece. Walk through the stone roads of the village and enjoy an evening coffee watching the amazing sunset.
After Molyvos worth visiting is Petra. The Church (Virgin of Petra) is built on a huge monolith. To worship, you have to climb 114 stairs. Do not forget to visit the small women’s cooperatives, where you’ll find local sweets and remarkable handicrafts produced by them.
Agiassos is well known for its amazing woodcarvers. You can order traditional furniture (chests, sofas, armchairs, chairs). Here you can also find unique local handicrafts and sweets.
Before getting to Agiassos, you pass from a site called Karini where an old fountain and a thousand year old tree with a huge hollow are placed. Inside the cavity used to find shelter the famous painter Theophilos. Visitors can drink coffee inside the hollow of the tree through the café that is situated nearby.
Sigri is the largest natural port of Lesvos, as protected by Nisiopi islet in front of it. It is a village with stone houses and picturesque streets. Visit the castle, which was built in 1757 and is characterized by the Arab arch which is above the gate and has red and white stones. Around the village you will find beautiful sandy beaches, first and foremost Panagia Faneromeni. Sigri is an ideal place for relaxed family holiday close to nature and the sea.
On the south coast of the island is the picturesque Plomari, known for its production of ouzo, traditional dishes and its hospitable residents. Browse through the cobbled streets and enjoy an ouzo in the shade of the old plane trees in the old quarter of the village with houses that have remained unchanged over time. At a short distance from Plomari you will find the beach of Ag. Isidoros, one of the cleanest beaches in Greece, Melinda beach with the spectacular rock as well as Panagia the hidden. In the mountains of Plomari you will find Megalochori, the old Plomari, as well as other small villages built on the slopes of Mount Olympus between lofty rocks and pines.
The picture changes when directed to Sigri, on the west, to see the petrified forest. Suddenly the closely planted landscape is lost and you think you were found in a savannah, a stone desert. Visit the Petrified Forest and the corresponding Museum where Geological discoveries and interactive presentations will travel you through history. The Monastery “High”, dedicated to St. John the Theologian is also worth visiting.
Interesting villages are found in the Gulf of Gera. Seven kilometers from the city of Mytilene you meet Pamfila. The marble iconostasis in the church of St. Barbara is lovely. Inside Mytilene there are many churches bedecked in the olive groves, cypresses and pines. This is generally the painting of nature in Mytilini. In Kapodistrian municipality Evergetoulas, there is a wonderful wetland. The scenery throughout this eastern district of Lesbos is enchanting, with towering pines, springs and chapels, which are dedicated in Agia Paraskevi.
Beyond Antissa the landscape becomes lunar, with bare mountains and strange rock formations. Not much here besides goats, sheep and the world’s largest petrified forest. The road forks and one leads to Sigri while the other leads to Eressos and Skala Eressos which brings in most of the tourist revenue for this part of Lesvos. You drive through the harsh landscape between mountains until you come to a huge green valley with a village at the top, Eressos. At the end of a long, narrow, straight road is Skala Eressos, a beach town with great restaurants, cafes, shops, boutiques, bars, yoga, massage, Gestalt therapy, and many things you would not expect to find in a remote Greek island village.
Skala Eressos is a center for spiritually minded people, former hippies, ex-Rajneesh sanyasins, gay women, families with children, couples (gay and other) and even has a movie theater. It also has one of the best beaches in Greece, a mile or two of sand that stretches along the bottom of this lush fertile valley from mountain range to mountain range, dissected by a river full of turtles that has water even in the summer when it hasn’t rained in months.