Mantamados, Agios Stefanos, Kapi, Pelopi, Kleio-Tsonia
The charming village of Mantamados is located at the northern-east side of the island in a valley, not visible from the sea, 37 km north of Mytilene. It was created by the merging of several coastal villages in the area, as a result of repeated raids by pirates during the Middle Ages. The inhabitants once living in the surrounding coastal areas were forced to leave their homes and settled around the area of the old temple of “Archangel Michael”, who is considered as the island’s protector and is also the patron saint of the Airforce. The village is said to have taken its name from the Greek word “Mantemadon” which means, people who process steel. Another aspect of how the village was called Mantamados comes from the word “mantadon” which means, in Turkish language, cattleman. Legend has it that the old monastery was plundered by Saraceen pirates, towards the end of the first millennium. All the monks were slaughtered, all but for one novice-monk. As the pirates where leaving, the novice climbed to the roof of the monastery to be sure that the pirates had left. However, the pirates noticed him from afar and returned to kill him as well. It is at this point in the story that the Archangel Michael makes his appearance in front of the Saraceens with his own sword drawn, forcing them to retreat in terror. Thanks to this miracle from the Archangel the monk survived. Out of deep respect for having witnessed the Archangel Michael “Taxiarchis” in all his fury, the novice monk gathered up the soil that was steeped in the blood of his martyred fellow monks and shaped it into the icon-sculpture of the Archangel as we see it on display today inside the church! Today, two weeks after Easter, every year people from all over the world pay tribute to the Archangel Michael “Taxiarchis” as they embark upon a journey from all corners of the island on foot to light a candle and say a prayer here.
Mantamados is well known for its excellent agricultural and livestock products as well as dairy products such as cheese (Ladotyri, Graviera, fresh mijithra and Feta) and yoghurt, made the authentic way and sold in traditional clay pots named “Gragoudes”. In addition, it is a renown center for pottery and ceramics. While roaming the streets you will discover traditional ceramics shops with potters working at their wheels creating or painting their new works of art in their celebrated workshops.
In a close distance to Mantamados, you will find the preserved potters’ settlement of Agios Stefanos and the workshop of Dimitris Kouvdis with its traditional furnaces, said to be the last known potter still harvesting local clay and firing with olive wood and olive pits. Nearby his workshop you will find the amazing Chapel of St. Stefanos, unique for its Byzantine architecture. Nature lovers will be amazed by the beauty of the local beaches and can take a boat to the nearby Tokmakia islets, a cluster of volcanic islets opposite Mantamados and accessible only by boat, that will give you the impression that you are at a tropical island due to their white sand and turquoise water. If you are interested in snorkeling, fishing, scuba diving, bird-watching or just sunbathing, it would be a fabulous idea to take the boat to Tokmakia, where the only inhabitants are noisy seagulls, cormorants and wild goats. Or just spend an amazing day at one of the local beaches of Kamila, Aspropotamo, Pedi, Chrysi Ammo and more!
During the rainy season, nature lovers must pay a visit to the Man’ Katsa waterfall, which can be found in the Aspropotamos river near the settlement of Pedi. The river sweeps over the edge of a cliff and falls for 15m into a pool. It is among the largest on the island and offers possibilities for various activities. The Man Katsa is a lovely trail to follow, if you like hiking. Mantamados offers several trails for biking, running trails and beach-hiking in a close distance. Enjoy yourselves, exploring this wonderful place!
Kapi, Pelopi, Kleio
Pelopi, or Yelia, Kapi and Kleio are purely farming and livestock villages. You’ll find the locals genuinely friendly.
Not far from Mantamados, is Kapi. The name of this village comes from the word “kapes”, a tobacco brand that used to be cultivated here by the Turkish people during the Ottoman occupation.“Kapes” also means in greek “the coat” that shepherds wore during winter time, because of the really cold weather that the village has.
A small road leads to its picturesque port “Geni Limani”, a pretty settlement where apart from swimming at the crystal clear waters, you can also enjoy fresh fish at its fish taverns.
To the west, you will come across the mountain village of Pelopi, where you can admire neoclassical mansions. According to mythology, King Pelopas passed from this village and is home land to once presidential candidate Michael Doukakis and actress Olympia Doukaki. Visit the local folklore collection you will find in the former elementary school of the village. Surrounding the village of Pelopi, nature lovers will enjoy taking a hike to discover remnants of watermills, the one-arched stone bridge close to the cemetery, or for more of challenge, hiking up to the peek of Profiti Ilia for the most amazing 360 degree view of the entire island!
Trahanas, special bread, honey and cheese are local products that are traditionally made. The honey here, obtainable only from small local producers, has a distinctive flavor and aroma. Also, do not miss having dinner at any one of the local taverns and to try the local mezes and meat dishes if you are a meat lover.
Tsonia Beach is a secret gem in the north of the island near Kleio, almost 500 meters long and consisting mainly of reddish sand with the occasional pebble. The beach is ideal for anyone seeking a relaxed atmosphere and for families. You will also find a choice of local tavernas for fish mezes and authentic local food!
|1. The monastery of the Archangel Taxiarchis – Learn about the icon of Taxiarchis and how it was created!|
|2. The “Loukoumades” sweet shop in the countryyard just ouside the Monastery of Archangel Taxiarchis.|
|3. The Folk Museum of Mantamados.|
|4. The workshops of the various local potters in Mantamados.|
|5. The Cheese and Yoghurt making factory and local agricultural cooperatives.|
|6. The waterfall of Man Katsa during the rainy season. Talk to the locals and learn about the local myths surrounding the waterfall.|
|7. The church of St. Basil built in 1750.|
|8. The Cultural Center of Mantamados, which used to be a communal olive press built arround 1911. Each August, a significant pottery exhbition takes place there, exhibiting the work of local artists, as well as of artists from all over Greece and different parts of Europe and Turkey, highlighting the sigificane of the tradition of pottery making on Lesvos.|
|1. The preserved setllement of potters of gios Stefanos and the workshop of Dimitris Kouvdis with its traditional furnaces.|
|2. The Chapel of St. Stefanos, unique for its Byzantine architecture.|
|3. The islets of Tkmakia which you can reach by boat from Agios Stefanosor fromMolivos.|
|4. Discover the amazing sandy beaches and seas of the region – Kamila, Astropotamo, Pedi, Chrysi Ammo and more!|
|1. Fish taverns and cafe-bars lining the sandy beach of Tsonia.|
|2. “Paliokastro” – ruins of a Byzantine fortress between Tsonia and Kleio.|
|1.The Church of St. Trinity with its 18th century wood-caved iconostasis and holy vessels.|
|1. The Cultural Center of Kpi housed in the Boliouris mansion.|
|2. The Church of St. Paraskevi at the center of the village.|
|3. The old-fashioned shops and tavernas with local traditional dishes.|
|4. The fishing harbour Geni Limani with its fish taverns.|
|1. Profitis Ilias with its amazing view of the entire island, especially at sunset.|
|2. The Folklore Collection located in the formerElementary School of Pelopi.|
|3. The traditional bakery of Pelopi with its amazing bread.|
|4. The hiking paths and the watermills.|
|5. The one-arched stone bridge close to the cemetery.|
Enjoy hking, biking, swimming, boat trips, fishing, climbing, birdwatching and more!