Around Mandamados

In the tiny settlement of Napi (3km north of Aghia Paraskevi­) a small Archaeological Museum (open daily in summer 9–3.30, closed Mon), laid out in the School Building, contains finds and information about the site of Klopedi, as well as a few works by Theophilos. Nine and a half kilometres beyond Napi is Mandamados, also accessible by the eastern coast-road of the island from Mytilene (45km), via Thermi and Mystegna. Along with Aghia Paraskevi­ and Napi, the festival of Aghios Charalambos in February is celebrated in Mandamados with the ancient pre-Christian ritual of the slaughter of young bulls, which are then prepared for a communal feast. It is also a place of pilgrimage centred on a miraculous icon in the large monastery of the Archangel Michael (1km to the north of the village), which has grown up near a sacred spring, which rises 50m east of the main monastery buildings. To the right-hand side of the iconostasis in the catholicon is the miraculous ‘black icon’ of the Archangel, allegedly sculpted in high relief from a dark aromatic wood. The icon has the appearance of something moulded in plastered masonry and set in an immured crescent-shaped framing niche. It is believed to possess healing powers and is a focus of devotion at all times, not just at the saint’s feast. The monastery is probably a foundation of Byzantine origins, but its buildings today date predominantly from the 19th century.
   On the coast east of Mandamados, opposite the islands in the channel between Lesbos and the Turkish coast referred to as Leukai in Antiquity, are two significant monuments best reached from the turning to the east, just north of Pedi­, south of Mandamados. At Aghios Stephanos (3.5km from junction) is the *12th century church of the same name, standing in an olive grove about 100m in from the shore. The low teetering church is constructed of the local russet-coloured stone, looking as if it had grown up out of the ground. It is of a simple inscribed-cross form with three apses and a narthex: the cupola at some point has collapsed and the crossing has been covered with a flat roof. The rough and unadorned interior, open to the breezes, has the feel of a natural grotto. It is one of the earliest, and certainly one of the most numinous, surviving churches on the island which is still in use. Beyond Aghios Stephanos the road becomes a track, and continues for 5km parallel to the coastline as far as Palios. Five hundred metres southwest of the tiny settlement is a house standing on its own, with a small jetty by the shore below. In between the house and the jetty are more than half a dozen rock-cut tombs of the Hellenistic period in varying states of preservation. The lids are now gone (unlike at Sendoukia on the island of Skopelos where they have survived intact), but the care fully drafted rims for the fitting of lids are well preserved on at least one of the tombs.

Lesvos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.
Around Mandamados.

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