Eressos – Antissa
Eressos-Skala Eressos, Sigri, Antissa, Gavathas, Vatousa, Pterounta, Hidira, Tzithra, Mesotopos-Tavari
Eressos and Skala Eressos are popular tourist destinations of Lesvos for innumerous reasons! This impressive settlement is a combination of volcanic landscapes, historical monuments, old monasteries, endless sandy beaches, lined with café-bars, tavernas, patisseries, souvenir shops, hotels and apartments. This area differs from the rest of the island, as this part of Lesvos is full of bare rocks and mountains as a result of the ancient volcanic activity that created the Petrified Forest of Sigri. It is said that the village was given the name of the son of King Macara “Eressos”. Another version of how the village got its name is that “eresso” is a verb in ancient Greek meaning “row”. This may be linked to the fact that the first residents of this island were Aeolian sailors!
It is worth to mention that the village of Eressos is also the birthplace of two philosophers: Theofrastos and Fanias. Both were students of Aristotle. Especially interesting is the “Theofrasteio”, one of the most beautiful schools of Lesvos with several elements of classic architecture, built in 1928 in honor of the ”Father of Biology”. Today, the building houses the Kindergarten, the Elementary School and High School of Eressos and Skala Eressos. Eressos is also the birthplace of Sappho, a lyric poet born around 630 BC, who is greatly admired still today for the beauty of her writing style. Sappho the Lesvian, as people used to call her wrote poems that were more personal and emotional and reveal feelings of admiration and love to both men and women. For this reason, Skala Eressos became a popular destination especially to women! Every year in September the International Women’s Festival is held there and women from all around the world gather to relax and freely express their feelings through art, photography, music, dance, cooking ventures, theatre and more!
From ancient times Eressos seems to have been a wealthy area, as the Mansions that adorn the region bear witness to the economic and cultural bloom. Coins of great significance have been found in this area. This means that the Eressian people used to mint their own coins. Some have the head of Sappho on them and others a spike of wheat or the head of Apollo or Hermes.
“Vigla” which is the Acropolis of ancient Eressos can be found on a rocky hill within a short distance from the beach. On the western slopes of the Acropolis, as a result of excavations, two rooms with mosaic floors came to light and are considered as the modern basilica of St Andrew from Eressos.
During spring, small wetlands in the region of Eressos provide water, food and a place to rest for exhausted migrant birds in order to regain energy to continue their journey, making the location a popular birdwatching destination! Most natural wetlands areas are in Lapsarna, Faneromeni, Harbor Faros, Tsichliotas River, Chrousos, Elafi, Artificial Lake of the Monastery Pithariou, Skala Eressos etc.
Close to Eressos, in a beautiful ravine in the hills, is the male Monastery “Moni Pithariou”, dating back to the 16th century. The architecture is very interesting as the monastery is built with brownish-red stones.
Sigri is one of the main reasons you should come to Lesvos as it is home to The Petrified Forest at Sigri. This natural monument is unique as there are only two such petrified forests, the second being located in Arizona, USA! 20.000.000 years ago, there were active volcanoes on Lesvos. The eruptions of these volcanos created the Petrified Forest in Sigri. At that time, all kinds of trees were growing there, including palm trees, plane trees and pine trees. The volcanic activity which produced huge quantities of lava, ash and other volcanic materials resulted in the perfect fossilization of plants and any other living creatures roaming the land at that time. Impressive standing and laying tree trunks with a length of more than 20 meters and with a diameter of up to 3 meters, have been revealed. The highest standing trunk reaches 7 meters. Moreover, there is also an underwater section of the Petrified Forest near the islet of Nissiopi. In Sigri you will find The Museum of Natural History depicting the geological story of Lesvos, and has also installed an earthquake simulator that simulates earthquakes that have happened in various places around the world in the past. The earthquake simulator provides a realistic experience of earthquakes to the Museum’s visitors, in order to help participants understand the phenomenon and to have a proper training on how to encounter seismic risk.
Near Sigri, standing on the highest peak of Ordimnos Mountain Range, 511 meters above sea level, is the Byzantine Monastery of Ipsilou or “Moni Ipsilou”, dedicated to “St. Ioannis Theologos”. The architecture of this church has many similarities to a castle, as it has tall walls and arched gates. The basilica can be distinguished by its breathtaking wall paintings and especially by its “iconostasis”. The Monastery provides a splendid collection of ecclesiastical items and is the most ancient monastery on Lesvos, built in 1011. “Moni Ipsilou is worth visiting for one more reason, its breathtaking view!
Antissa is a semi mountainous traditional village in the west of the island, surrounded by pine trees, olive trees and oak forests. Its first name was “Telonia”, due to the hot springs that were located nearby. After 1927 the village was named “Antissa”, after one of King Macara’s daughters, according to mythology. If we travel back in time, Antissa (Anti+Issa) was said to be an island located opposite (“Anti”) from “Issa” which at that time was the name of Lesvos. This is another speculation as to how the village got its name. Antissa and Eressos had a lot of power in ancient times and ruled over western Lesvos. Antissa was the birthsplace of Terpandros who was both, a musician and a poet and also the inventor of the seven-stringed lyra.
In the area of “Grigorelia” near Antissa“, nature lovers can hike up to the Spillios Cave” or “Chaos”, as it is called by the locals, a cave with an entrance 10m wide and 12m high found near the peak of a limestone formation. In the interior of the cave there are traces of the presence of prehistoric humans as well as rocks covered by stalagmite material. In “Spilios” it is said that the famous oracle of Orpheus operated there. Orpheus was known as the most talented music player of the ancient times. According to mythology it is said that the god Apollo was his father, from whom he inherited his extreme talent in music and the Muse Calliope was his mother. The legend says that in the area of Antissa, Orpheus was killed and his head was placed in the oracle, where it could tell the future, making the oracle famous throughout the ancient world! Birds are said to sing in the most beautiful way due to the sweet and melodious songs that Orpheas used to sing here, once upon a time!
At a close distance visitors may find Moni Perivolis, a women’s monastery of Byzantine style, located next to the river of Voulgaris. Also near Antissa, you will come across the villages of Liota with its traditional tavern shaded by the most magnificent tree that can fit more than 10 people inside it and Gavathas, a picturesque and quaint fishing harbor of Antissa with a long sandy beach and a beautiful white Chapel on its highest point, dedicated to St. Panteleimonas, a lovely location to have a wedding!
Chidira, is the birth place of Georgios Iakovidis, one of the most important Greek painters. You can visit his museum upon request to the local volunteer, which is the first fully digital art museum in Greece, where you will learn about the work of the famous painter. Furthermore, the region of Chidira is a wildlife sanctuary and a nature reserve because of its abundant fauna and its distinct geological features and flora. Chidira village also produces dairy products of high quality.
Vatousa is one of the villages of Lesvos protected by law as a traditional establishment. It has wonderful architectural features such as cobble-stone paved streets, stone walls and stone houses. Vatousa has not been touched by time and has maintained its rural, authentic charm. The village was built in the centre of the crater of a large volcano which was active 20 million years ago. In Vatousa you will find the “Gogos Mansion”, a neoclassical style structure, built in the 19th century. Nowadays it has become a small museum and is a tourist attraction. It houses a library of two rare collections, local arts and crafts, a lending library, and an exhibit of photographs which document past life in Vatousa. The church of Taxiarchis from 1832 is a three-aisled basilica and is also worth seeing.
The neighbouting Pterounta village owes its name to the plant “fteri” which grows vastly in the region. The oldest houses in the village were built after 1900 with the unique red-auburn “Pteroundian stone”, bricks and wood. The ruins of the water mill at the breathtaking turquoise-green waterfall of Vathylimno and the stone bridge of Voulgari River stand there and are evidence of the past.
Mesotopos is a picturesque settlement in western Lesvos that keeps tradition alive! During the last weekend of the period of “Apokria”-or otherwise known as Carnival season, which is in February or March, the villagers of Mesotopos “bring to life” a unique carnival which is really interesting to watch. This carnival is called “Koudounati”. “Koudounia” means “bells” in greek. The local men and children decorate themselves from head to toe in different sized sheep bells and dance and sing traditional songs throughout the festivities. They dance with steady and heavy steps which are made at the same time by the men so that the bells ring altogether causing a deafening noise, wishing to “wake up” fertility of the land. The bells that the men wear weigh at least 20 kg. Their face is smudged with charcoal and on their head they wear either pumpkins with feathers or scarves. Undoubtedly, the roots of the Greek carnival are in ancient times and more specifically in the worship of god Dionysus. When Christianity appeared, although people did not worship the gods of Olympus anymore, the custom of masquerading and celebrating in the streets remained. During the summer time, don’t miss the opportunity to visit “Tavari”, the small fishing port of Mesotopos and of course a wonderful beach for swimming and snorkeling and “Chrousos” which is one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on Lesvos with crystal clear waters. Mesotopos is an excellent gastronomical center for visitors, as you can visit the local cooperatives producing homemade sweets, liqueurs, marmalades, pastas, cheeses, ice cream and much more, all from natural ingredients!
Eressos – Skala Eressos
|1. The Pythariou Monastery of Pammegiston Taxiarchon, built in 1548, northeast of Eressos|
|2. Early Christian Basilica of St Andreas Eressos|
|3. The Church of St. Irene built in 1792 in Eressos|
|4. The Church of St. Constantine built in 1874 in Eressos|
|5. The Theofrastus Primary School of Eressos, a remarkable neoclassical building erected in 1925|
|6. Eressos Agricultural School, an emblematic building built in 1874|
|7. The village square surrounded by tavernas and coffee shops and shaded by plane trees|
|8. The 16 fountains found all around the village of Eressos|
|9. The Hotel-Spa Hamam in Eressos|
|10. Skala Eressos’ 3km Sandy Beach, lined with statue-works of art, tavernas, patisseries, café-bars, hotels, beach bars, souvenir shops with wooden terraces over the beach and a choice of water sports|
|11. The remains of the Acropolis of Ancient Eressos on Vigla Hill|
|12. The Archaeological Museum of Eressos in Skala Eressos with findings from the archaic era to the Byzantine times|
|13. The Kampos plain, ideal for hiking and dominated by the famous Eresian Fig Trees|
|14. Local products such as figs, Vrasma syrup, fig marmalade, cheeses such as Kaseri|
|15. The “Nisaki” impressive rock islet of Skala Eressos|
|16. Panagitsa Church next to the port at the far end of Skala Eressos Beach|
|17. Minavra Beach, Peristeria Beach, Fykiotrypa Beach, Tilegraphos Beach, Tsichlionta Beach and more!|
|18. Hiking paths and the sea turtles in the wetlands of Skala Eressos|
|19. The Krinelo Waterfalls and the old traditional 15-meters high watermill in the Krinelos field (you must get into contact with the owner to enter the property that houses the waterfalls and the mill)|
|20. The Openair Cinema|
|21. The OshoAfroz Meditation Centre|
|1. The impressive Byzantine Monastery Ypsilou, dedicated to St. John Theologos, built in 1011, which is located on top of Mt. Ordymnos and looks like a fortress|
|2. The Petrified Forest of Lesvos at Sigri – a protected natural monument which also has an earthquake simulator!|
|3. The Natural History Museum of Lesvos and its Park|
|4. The Nissiopi Petrified Forest Park – the first marine fossil park in Greece which you can tour with a special glass bottom boat|
|5. The Castle of Sigri built around 1757, with its arched doorway made of red and white rocks and walls built mainly with local volcanic rocks|
|6. The Cold Press Olive Mill “Ol-eve Family Estate”|
|7. The Chapel of Panagia Faneromeni located in the cave of a rock at the most amazing sand Faneromeni Beach|
|8. The beach of Sigri and its many taverns, cafes and shops|
|9. The port of Sigri|
Antissa – Liota-Gavathas
|1. The main square of Antissa shaded by huge plane trees, with its cafés and kafeneions|
|2. The preserved stone minaret|
|3. The Spilios cave, one of the most important caves on Lesvos. Legend has it, this is were the famous oracle of Orpheus existed|
|4. The Monastery of Perivolis, built on the banks of the river Voulgaris|
|5. The Church of St. Kyriaki|
|6. The Folklore Museum of Antissa|
|7. The nearby village of Liota with its traditional tavern shaded by the most magnificent tree that can fit more than 10 people inside it|
|8. The sandy beach of Gavathas, with tavernas, café-bars and rental apartments|
|9. The Chapel of St. Panteleimonas of Gavathas|
|1. The Digital Art Museum of George Jakobidis – Open upon request|
|2.Hiking between Pterounta and Chidira you will find the Vathilimno Waterfal|
|3. The first professional winery in Lesvos- Methymnaeos Organic Winery-producing exceptional red and white organic wine|
|4. Local dairy products|
|1. The beautiful architecture throughout the village of Vatoussa, a preserved traditional settlement with its cobblestoned streets and stone houses and stately mansions|
|2. The Gogos Mansion built in the end of the 19th century that houses the Folklore Museum of Vatoussa and the Community Cultural Center|
|3. The Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary built in 1850 with its marble fountain “Kali Vrisi” – Good Fountain, a monument from the 19th century, which you can find in its churchyard|
|4. The central square and the local traditional “Kafeneions”, tavernas and coffee shops|
|5. The impressive Primary School and its courtyard of Vatoussa|
|6. Hiking in the surrounding nature|
|1. The village of just 8 people|
|2. A new local wine produced at Tzithra|
|1. The unique only to Pterounta architecture of many buildings which are built with special yellow-red volcanic rocks dated back to millions of years ago|
|2. Vathilimno Waterfall- Hiking path|
|3. The fountain-monument “Koutlidis Aqueduct”|
|4. The church of St. John Theologos with its imposing bell-tower, built in 1873|
|5. The Black Pine Forest in the surround nature|
|6. The local quaint “kafeneion”|
|1. The church of St. John the Baptist built in 1880|
|1. The Folk Museum of Mesotopos|
|2. The main square with its traditional “Kafeneions”|
|3. The old stone fountains scattered throughout the village|
|4. The Primary School of Mesotopos with its beautiful architecture|
|5. Rich Carnival Season traditions and The “Koudounatous”- the Bell Bearers- an amazing site to see!|
|6. Traditional Greek music and dance. Mesotopitians are considered to be the best traditional dancers on Lesvos|
|7. Hiking in the surrounding nature- with waterfalls and little lakes|
|8. The Women’s Cooperative of Mesotopos|
|9. The Men’s Agricultural Cooperative of Mesotopos (Tip: Try their sheep-milk based ice cream in various flavours!)|
|10. Local products such as Trahana, sweet preserves, pastas, marmelades, cookies, cheese, yoghurt, ice cream and more!|
|11. The beautiful seaside village and fishing port of Tavari lined with an array of tavernas and café-bars|
|12. The nearby beaches of Chrousos to the west and Podaras to the east|