LESVOS



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Lesvos or Mytilene - The central south of the island: Plomari & Polichnitos - East: from Gera to Plomari and on to the Panaghia Kryfti


East: from Gera to Plomari and on to the Panaghia Kryfti

The first junction on the main east/west road from Mytilene, after 10.5km, is with the road to Plomari which heads south into the rich olive-producing landscape between the eastern slopes of Olympus and the gulf of Gera. The olive plantations in this area are amongst the oldest and most productive on the island, and the area is punctuated with numerous olive mills and processing factories, built on a large scale in the 1930s and now mostly abandoned. These can be seen in nearly all the larger villages and most conspicuously on the shore at Dipi and at Perama, two of the harbours used for shipment.
   A kilometre before Dipi, the road crosses a small river draining the surrounding reed-beds: immediately south of the bridge as the road touches the shore are the re mains of an ancient harbour, now mostly submerged. Ruins of ancient houses have also been found in the area of Kato Tritos (branch road to southwest after 3km). Above the village to the south (1.5km by paved track) is the tiny, isolated, 15th century church of the Taxiarchis. Its un-plastered walls, not quite perpendicular and heavily buttressed, blend with the surrounding rocks out of which the church seems to grow. The simple interior, surmounted by a low central cupola, was once covered by wall-paintings of the 16th century. Only damaged patches now remain, but these include a well-preserved Crucifixion scene to the right of the west door and the fine head of the Archangel Gabriel below, wearing a fillet in his hair. The site—probably of a small monastic settlement—has wide views over the Gulf to the north and east.
   At 5.8km the road splits, with the eastern branch fol lowing the low line of the shore towards Perama—the modern successor to Ancient Hiera, said by Pliny to have been destroyed by earthquake. Today the harbour is dominated by the empty buildings of several late 19th century tanneries and factories which produced soap as a by-product of olive oil. There is a small passenger ferry (no vehicles) which crosses the narrow entrance of the gulf of Gera to Koundouroudia on its east side. The main western branch of the road now climbs inland to wards Palaiokipos, the first of the group of thriving, al most contiguous villages which spread south along the lower eastern slopes of Olympos overlooking the gulf of Gera, and all of which contain a vibrant mixture of Ottoman and Greek neoclassical architectures. The villages of Mesagros and Skopelos, higher up the mountain, have the greatest interest. Mesagros is set 1km to the southeast of the mediaeval castle of Gera at Palaiokastro. Beside the village’s main north/south street are the ruins of an early 19th century mosque with two minarets (one still well-preserved). In the roofless interior, the ornate plaster decoration of the mihrab is still visible; and inset into the chamfered exterior corners are small white marble plaques inscribed with phrases from the Koran. Along the same street are two Ottoman fountains and, 100m to the south of the mosque, the former Ottoman school-building with fine Koranic inscription in the lunette over the door. The street continues south to contiguous Skopelos, similarly rich in a variety of mansions dating from the period of prosperity between 1890 and 1920. At its centre is a steep shaded plateia with running springs of a soft, sweet water. Above the square is the rebuilt church of Aghios Giorgios (1908) which contains the relics of St Gregory, the 12th century bishop of Assos. Yet further uphill is the church of Aghia Magdalene: from inside the chapel immediately to the south of the main church, steps lead down into a small network of catacombs, carved by hand out of the soft volcanic tuff, and still an active focus of worship today. Catacombs are a phenomenon of the early centuries of Christianity, found as far afield as North Africa and Paris. As cemeteries they were inviolable under Roman law, and as a consequence were often used as places of secret worship in times of difficulty for the Early Christian community.
   Beyond the junctions for Skopelos and Mesagros the main road for Plomari climbs through valleys carpeted with olive-trees—too many for the manpower available to harvest them, meaning that only a proportion of the trees are picked and many are left fallow, according to the determinations of the market. At 13.5km a branch road leads southeast to Tarti, one of the island’s most attractive and intimate coves, with a pleasant beach and clear waters, bordered by a couple of tavernas. The main road continues down a wooded gorge to the coast at Aghios Isi­doros (25.5km), where the Varvagianni Ouzo Distillery—one of the island’s most famous and respected for the quality of its produce—dominates the shoreline. (Guided visits during working hours from June to the end of September.) At 28km, the road reaches Plomari, which in spite of a slightly drab waterfront relieved only by the dense stand of palm-trees in the main square, is nonetheless a fascinating town with a rich variety of architecture. It is the largest town on Lesbos after Mytilene, substantially a creation of the Ottoman period (with the Turkish name of ‘Bilmar’), with an economy founded on the trade of olive oil and its by-products, and on the production of ouzo. The wealth generated in this commerce is displayed in the grand and often idiosyncratic mansions which line the watercourse of the Sedounda Torrent which runs through the centre of the habitation. Beginning from the large plane tree, surrounded by cafes and eateries, just north of the waterfront, the line of the seasonal torrent passes almost immediately beside one of Lesbos’s most *decorative neoclassical façades (1908) with a highly ornate pediment, colourfully painted niches flanking the entrance, finely moulded pilasters and window-frames, and beautiful wrought-iron balconies. Beyond are an abandoned, olive-press and adjacent buildings in a pleasing mixture of green schist and red trachyte; Ottoman houses with sachnisia and wooden lofts; the recently re stored Poulias soap factory building; balconied archontika; and gardens rich in jasmine, citrus, figs, acacia and palm trees. The great diversity is typical of the centres of the Levantine world at the turn of the last century. From this same period dates the memorable ‘Athanasiadeion’ cafe on the corner of Plateia Beniami­n—redolent in its elegant neoclassical design, its interior and its clientele, of an almost faded world which still remarkably survives in Plomari.
   Five and a half kilometres west of Plomari along the shore is Melinta, on a pebble beach at the mouth of the Selada ravine. The olive-clad slopes of the valley are punctuated by small agricultural communities: Palaiochora on the west slope, and the more remote and half abandoned Kournela on the opposite slope grouped around its springs and the church of the Pro dromos. They are two of the many tiny settlements with examples of interesting vernacular architecture in the area between Megalochori and Plomari. A turning to the west from the road between Melinta and Palaiochora, leads (3km) to the Panaghia Kryfti­, in a steep rocky cove of the south coast. At the far side of the inlet, below an overhang in the cliff is a small rectangular pool that fills with thermal waters which rise beneath the cliff at 44Β°C, supplying the small open bath just above the sea at a pleasant blood temperature.


Lesvos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.
From Gera to Plomari and on to the Panaghia Kryfti.


Random information you might what to know about Lesvos Island
Asomatos & Aghiasos
Old Archaeological Museum

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Lesvos Island, Greece.


By air:
Domestic flights from Athens, four times daily with Olympic Air and two or three times daily with Aegean Airlines, serve Mytilene through out the year.
There are daily Olympic Air connections with Thessaloniki, and 6 days a week with Aegean Airlines, including a twice weekly local, Eastern Aegean route with Olympic, from Thessaloniki to Rhodes , via Lemnos and Chios and (once a week only) Samos . The airport is 5km from the centre of Mytilene.
By boat: The principal route from Piraeus to Mytilene is served by Hellenic Seaways, via Chios, with a daily 12.30 departure from Piraeus, arriving at Mytilene 21.00, and returning to Piraeus again overnight.
GA Ferries run 3 times weekly along the route from/to Chios and Samos to the south, and Lemnos and Kavala to the north.
There is a weekly Saos Ferries service from the port of Sígri (north west Lesbos) on the route be- tween Kavala, Lemnos, Aghios Evstratios (to north), and (to south) Psará and Lavrion (for Athens). Crossings to Turkey (Ayvalık/Dikili) run 4 to 5 times weekly during the summer season (May–early-Oct) only.

Lesvos Travel Guide

beaches

Lesvos Island, Greece.

 

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Lesvos Travel Guide

eating

Lesvos Island, Greece.

The port area of Mytilene has many small (mostly new) tavernas, dedicated to providing interesting, fresh and varied Levantine–Aegean dishes with localredients, good local breads, and offer a pleasant atmosphere.
Two which are particularly to be recommended, are: *Matzourána (30 Komninaki St.), one block in from the east side of the harbour;
and *Machalás (27 Mitrelia St.), two blocks in from the north side of the harbour.
A more "folkloric" setting and some good local dishes are provided by Zoubouli, on the corner of Sarandoporou and Venedakis Streets, behind the north- east corner of the port.
For traditional vegetable and fish mezedes, prepared with care and imagination, nothing can beat the Taverna "Rebetis" on the waterfront, overlooking the north harbour from its southeast corner.
11km north of Mytilene, shortly after Pyrgi Thermis, beside the church of St George, is the Taverna Aghios Giorgios—good for fresh fish, and popular with locals on Sundays especially.
On the road to Polichnítos, below the village of Asomatos and 3km after the junction at Kerameia, is the Taverna "Karini" in the deep shade of plane-trees and vines beside a stream; the food is ordinary, but the setting delightful.
At picturesque Skala Sykaminiás on the north coast, the tavernas in the port have mostly become, through popularity, over-priced or poor in quality; but 1km to the west along the track by the shore from the harbour, is To Kyma, still unspoiled and with good fish dishes.
Taverna "Vapheios", in the village of that name 6km to the east of Molyvos, has good local specialties and sunset views to match.
Right in the heart of Molyvos, the tiny and basic *Obelisteria "Methymna" (further up the street past the Demarcheion) deserves special recommendation for the care with which the owner chooses his excel lent meats and produce, serving the client with the tastiest salads and grilled meats to be found on the island, simply seasoned with fresh herbs, and provided at very modest prices. Space is limited, especially in winter.

Lesvos Travel Guide

further reading

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Longus (2nd century ad), The Pastoral Story of Daphnis & Chloe, an ancient romance novel set on Lesbos (translated in Reardon’s Ancient Greek Novels, 1989).
Richard Brooks, Birding on the Greek Island of Lesvos—revised 2002, is an invaluable guide to the island’s unusually rich birdlife.

Lesvos Travel Guide

lodging

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Notwithstanding the décor which is a little over the top (an endemic problem in the two or three converted man sions which offer accommodation in Mytilene), the hotel Pyrgos of Mytilene (T. 22510 27977, 25069, fax 47319, www.pyrgoshotel.gr. Upper price range.) on the hill to the south of the harbour, is the city’s smartest hotel—welcoming, comfortable, providing a good breakfast with freshly baked items, and open all year round. The road-side rooms can be noisy, however.
An inexpensive alternative is the Hotel Orpheas (T.22510 28523, fax 21930), in a converted mansion mid-way between the two Archaeological Museums.
Not far outside Mytilene (11 km to the north), at Pyrgi Thermis, is the delightful Hotel Votsala- (T. 22510 71231, fax 71179; www.votsalahotel. com. Apr-Oct. Medium price). Welcoming, informal, and pointedly un-touristy and unpretentious, this simple and beautiful hotel on the shore, run by a Mytilenean architect and his wife, is perhaps the most civilised and enjoyable solution on the island.
Molyvos has a wider variety of places to chose from: on the shore below the town, is the Olive Press Hotel (medium price), arranged around the courtyard of a converted olive mill (T. 22530 71205, fax 71646).
In the heart of Molyvos is the delightful and simple Nassos Guesthouse (inexpensive; T. 22530 71432, www.nassosguesthouse.com);
and nearby, for real simplicity in an old Ottoman-style house, Pension Chrisi (T. 22530 72193). Not far away, between Petra and Anaxos, is the Clara Hotel & Bungalows (T. 22530 41532, fax 41535, www.clarahotel.gr); the complex, which has comprehensive facilities and is set in its own gardens, has fine views of Molyvos and Petra, but is a little distance from both and is not on the beach.
In Plomari, the nicest lodgings are provided by the Hotel Leda (T. 22520 32507; open May–Sept only) in a fine traditional mansion with views out to sea: it is in the centre of town, up a flight of steps from the main square.
The only accommodation which is part of one of the thermal spring spas are the rooms offered at Thermes Polichnitou (T. 22520 41201).

Lesvos Travel Guide

museums

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Archaeological Museum

Lesvos Travel Guide

practical info

Lesvos Island, Greece.

811 00 09, 812 00 & 813 00 Lesbos:
area 1630sq km
perimeter 370km
population 108,000
max. altitude 968m.
Port Authority (Mytilene): T. 22510 40827, 47888.
Travel and information: Pan Tours 22510 46595, www.pantours.gr, Dimakis Travel 22510 27865, www.dimakistours.gr

Lesvos Travel Guide

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