Municipal Unit of Agiasos
Agiasos is built inland on the slopes of Mount Olympos in an amphitheatrical manner and is a genuine traditional settlement of Lesvos with beautiful stone built houses lined with red-tiled roofs and wooden balconies called ‘sahnisinia”. Adding to its charm are its narrow cobbled streets in combination with the fact that the village has preserved its customs and traditions. During 803 BC, the monk Agathon brought the icon of Virgin Mary from Jerusalem with the inscription: “Agia Sion” (Saint Sion). Believers who would embark upon a pilgrimage to see the icon would say that they are going to “Agia Sion” which eventually became “Agiasos” as time passed. This mountainous destination is surrounded by a rich natural environment with a large variety of trees, such as extensive forests of Turkish pines (pinus brutia) on the west side of the village and a vast chestnut grove which create a landscape of unique beauty. The flora of the area is significant, particularly in spring, during which you can discover the rare anemones, cyclamens, peonies and wild orchids!
The settlement of Agiasos was built all around the stunning church of “Kimisi tis Theotokou” or “Panagia” as it is locally called. This was due to the fact that in 1701 the Turkish governor of the region was seriously ill and attributed his salvation to the miracle of Virgin Mary. In gratitude he wanted to make a great gift to the Church of Panagia – Virgin Mary, but this was forbidden by the Koran. So he went to Constantinople- today known as Istanbul, and requested from the Sultan an order, by which the inhabitants of Agiasos would be exempt from paying taxes. This would lead to the rapid development of the village as inhabitants of the surrounding villages and most of the Lesbian craftsmen massively relocated to Agiasos in order to become exempt from taxation and to sell duty-free products.
Today, the church of Panagia or “Kimisi of Theotokou” has such an impressive architecture and is one of the largest churches on the island. It is a three-aisled basilica type. The holy icon that the monk Agathon brought with him is said to be made of mastic and wax according to the religious tradition by Saint Luke the Evangelist and is miraculous, so it attracts many visitors each year, and especially on the 15th of August. The previous day, “pilgrims” come from every corner of the island, from all over Greece or even from abroad and travel on foot to the church, in order to honor the Virgin Mary. Don’t miss the Folk and the Ecclesiastical Museum with a significant collection of manuscripts, sacristy which are in the yard of this church.
If you are a fan of folk art, Agiasos is the largest center of craftsmanship on the island, with a wide variety of textiles, woodcrafts and ceramics that decorate the cobbled streets that lead to “Panagia” church. You will find many shops with hand-made treasures as well as the famous “pagiavlakia” (small clay creations that you fill with water and as you blow, make the sound of birds chirping). A great souvenir from Agiasos!
You will also find a variety of local products produced in Agiasos such as chestnuts, walnuts, cherries, olives, small sour apples that grow only in this region, the special “vasilopita” -a sweet cake that consists of at least 50 handmade layers of dough which contain pure olive oil, orange and boiled aniseed, a unique traditional herbal tea called ”cainar”, “halva” and ”talamotyri”- a special local cheese! Moreover you can find astonishing wooden carvings and pottery made by very talented craftsmen!
Agiasos also has a rich cultural heritage which is taught and preserved at their “Anagnostirio” (place where you can study). Today, children learn classical and traditional instruments here, such as the traditional “santouri”, a stringed instrument with a unique and beautiful sound. Folklore music is well honored at this village!
Between late October and early November, locals organize the “Chestnut Festival”, which has managed to become known all over the island, and not only, with “fanatical” fans waiting for this special day as a reason for a winter mountain getaway, for a walk in the narrow streets of Agiasos, but also for a tour of the many walking paths of the “Kastaniona” or chestnut grove.
Carnival season- or lent, has also remained a major example of cultural creativity for over a century. Locals perform open-air speeches satirizing current issues as well as the social and political life of the island and Greece. It is a theatrical folklore event, where “Agiasotes” use their local dialect to express themselves and this is what makes this carnival so famous and special!
|In the middle of the village stands The Church of Panagias of Agiasos (Kimisi tis Theotokou) which has such an impressive architecture and is one of the biggest and most important churches on the island. It is a three aisled basilica type. In the churchyard is the Folk Museum of Agiasos and the Ecclesiastical Museum|
|Walking through the traditional cobblestone alleyways of Agiasos, you will discover its rich herritage, architecture and beautiful traditional houses with “sahnisinia”, many old fashioned stores selling handicrafts, embroidery, locally made pottery and ceramics, woodwork and more|
|The “Anagnostirio of Agiaso” – a significant Community Cultural Centre of the settlrement built in 1894. Young people from all over the world come to study the musical instrument “santouri” and its music here.|
|Since 1967, the old bakery Sousamlis,still exists in Agiasos.Here is produced the famous Vasilopita that consists of at least 50 handmade layers of dough .|
|At the village’s central square, all around the church of Panagia,at the traditional “kafenia” you can taste a cup of “cainar”(local – eastern drink, served hot) and Greek coffee boiled on ash and fire “sti hovoli”. The “Kafentaria” is one of the oldest coffee houses on the island and is declared a monument, locatedin the central market square.|
|Many walking paths in the Kastaniona – The Chestnut Grove of Agiasos|
|The Chestnut Festival and the Cherry Festival of Agiasos|
|The Agiasos Carnival in winter|
Karini – Agios Dimitrios
|On the way to Agiasos is Karini.It is a beautiful location with huge trees, a river with ducks, a little bridge, a tavern and the small church of St.Dimitrios.The main attraction here is the huge cavity in the gigantic plane tree where Theofilos the painter used to live in.|
|A beautiful coffeehouse in mhich you can see murals painted by the painter Theofilos|