History & Culture
Archeological Sites – Byzantine Monuments – Contemporary Monuments:
• Ancient Pyrra (8th – 3rd century BC.),
• Sanctuary of Messa (4th century BC),
• Sanctuary of Klopedi (8th – 6th century BC),
• Gerna (remains of the ancient city and the Byzantine settlement),
• Old Christian Basilica of Aghios Georgios Chalinadou (6th century),
• Cave- Hermitage of Aghia Paraskevi (first Christian years),
• Old Christian Basilica of Taxiarchis Troulotis Napis,
• Kremasti Bridge (14th-15th century),
• Vromonero Bridge (18th century),
• Metochi Taxiarchon Klopedi (16th century),
• Holy Church of Pammegistoi Taxiarches (1865),
• Holy Church of Aghios Ioannis Theologos Napis,
• Archeological Collection of Napi,
• Mylopotamos Watermills.
The whole area presents many interesting features, especially in terms of archeological sites and other:
In Klopedi, 4km northwest of Agia Paraskevi, in an imposing scenery, amid green mountain olive groves and with a view to the mountains of ancient Pyrra and “Pyrraio Evripo”, we come across the remains of two archaic temples, unique in Greece, dating back to the 8th and 6th century BC, with capitals of Aeolic order, which reveal the position of one of the most important sanctuaries in the history of ancient Lesbos.
In the same area, ruins of a Byzantine fortress are also visible.
According to evidence and the excavations that took place, the temple went through four building phases before taking its final form, at around mid 6th century BC, when 46 Aeolic columns were placed in an external colonnade around it. The columns are not grooved, standing on a circular base and they lead to a uniform molded cap ("echinus") from where sprung the Aeolic capital.
The aeolic capital is characterized by the two volutes that carry the abacus, while the carvings between them are considered to be influenced by the Ionic order.
The divinity to which the Sanctuary was dedicated is not known. Judging from the formation of the area, the relics and the traces found around it, it becomes obvious that the main sanctuary and most probably an even bigger shrine spread to a very large area, without buildings (since worship was practiced in the open air). Most of the walls of the surrounding area give the impression that they are dating back to antiquity. The ancient quarry, found 1,5 km northwest of the temple, at the area Pelekanies, under mount Petsofa, is also remarkable. The stone of the temple was excavated from this quarry and even today the visitor has the chance to see broken columns, flywheels, floor plates etc.
In the area “Messa”, where the settlement Messa is also situated, 9km southeast of Agia Paraskevi and just 800 meters away from the National Road (direction Mytilene), the ruins of an important Temple have been discovered. The temple, which housed the “Common of the Lesbian cities”, dates back to 4th century BC, was dedicated to the Aeolian trinity of Zeus, Hera and Dionysus. It is a temple of Ionic order, with eight columns, unique in the Greek territory. The name of the temple comes from the ancient name “to Messon” (the Middle), which denoted the center of the island. Its central position is what made it to become the holly center of worship in the whole island of Lesbos. This was the place where, every year, common celebrations of all residents of Lesbos took place and more specifically the worship of Hera, which was the protector of all Aeolic generations («ÁéïëÞéá èåüò ðÜíôùí ãåíÝèëá»). To honor her, a beauty pageant was organized where Lesbian women, wearing chlamyses, competed in beauty.
During Christian ages, the temple was converted to an old Christian cemetery Basilica, while in the late Byzantine years, a smaller temple dedicated to Taxiarchi (Archangel Michael) was built. Through the centuries, the little church turned to ruins, but the worship of Taxiarchis continues even today, on the ruins of the old Temple. All works for the emergence and renovation of the temple, carried out by “K’ Unit of Prehistoric and Classic Antiquities”, were completed in 2005, and today, one can visit a museum, where architectural parts of the temple are on display, as well as an outdoor theatre. The archeological site remains open daily, except for Monday, during the entire year.
The Temple of Messa is the most important monument of the lesbian history and the only organized touristic, archeological site in Lesbos today.
Remains of buildings of early Christian ages can also be found in the area “Chalinados”, 3km east of Agia Paraskevi, and more specifically on the road Agia Paraskevi-Komi. There, one can also visit the old Christian Basilica of Agios Georgios.
This temple is considered to have been the church of a small monastery and dates back to the second half of the 6th century. This monument was excavated and reconstructed in 1937 by the Archeology Professor, Anastasios Orlanthos.
According to Orlanthos, the church was a square Basilica (dimensions: 14,17m. x 15.05m.) which bears similarities with some Basilicas of northern Syria, something that shows the influence of Syrian monasticism on the lesbian one. The main temple communicated with the narthex through three gates. At the apse of the sanctuary which has been rebuilt, we find the synthronos, a bishop’s throne, while the Altar was covered by a canopy.
Near the mouth of river Vouvari, we find the ruins of the ancient city of “Pyrra”, now sunk into the sea and visible when the waters are calm, offering a breathtaking sight. Pyrra was one of the five city-states of Lesbos during antiquity. Its existence dates back to 10th-8th century BC until year 231 BC when a large earthquake destroyed the city and the tidal waves that followed sunk a part of it. The position of Pyrra was ideal. Built on a flat area over the sea, it controlled the surroundings. The wall built around it was 1,5 km long and included within its limits an area of 73 roods. There were gates at all the points where the natural paths of the steep hills led.
In the same area, the ruins of an old Christina Basilica have also been found. In the top of the hill of Pyrra, on which numerous building foundations and parts of ancient constructions are scattered, we can still see parts of the fortification of the ancient city, built according to the lesbian tradition. Close to the sea, there are still remaining parts of the ancient port, made of blocks of rocks. Life on the hill of Pyrra continued even after the destruction of the city, until the Middle Ages. The remains of this life are the three little churches (Agios Nikolaos, Agia Eudokia and Agia Foteini), whose ruins nowadays are to be found around the hill, as well as the renovated chapel of Agios Dimitirios.
What presents a particular interest are the ruins of an old medieval village in the area of “Gerna”, two kilometers south of Agia Paraskevi, which was built on the prehistoric city of “Gerna”. The rood screen now found in the Church of Taxiarches in Agia Paraskevi was taken from the Church of Taxiarchi in Gerna, while all residents of this village gradually moved to Agia Paraskevi to protect themselves from the pirate attacks during the 17th century.
The Dragon’s jump (Tou Drakou to Pidima). It is a geomorphologic formation created on volcanic rock. Its form led it to be used as a fortress ever since ancient times. It is situated in a distance of about 1.300m. northeast of Napi and 200m from the road Napi-Mantamados, from where it looks spectacular.
The fortress, according to I. Kontis, is situated on the mountains, between old Arisvaia and old Mithimnaia, and it is hard to define whether it belonged to the one or the other city. What is also hard to explain is the presence of some fortifications found in the inner island, since researchers cannot explain their purpose of existence. One of these is the “Dragon’s Jump”, which probably takes its name from the long distance in between rocks.
It is most probably a small fortress aimed to host some kind of guard, without ruling out the possibility that it was used as an observatory to serve the telecommunication needs of its time. Its view however amplifies the view that was actually a fortress and that its main purpose was to protect the city. Characteristic examples of lesbian architecture are found on the feet of the bigger rock, where there are parts of wall constructed in this specific manner.
The medieval arch bridge of Kremasti (“Gefiri tis Kremastis”), under which runs river Tsiknias, also remains intact. The bridge was built by the Gatelouzi during the Venice Occupation of Lesbos (1355-1462) for military purposes (road connection with the castle of Mithymna and transfer of supplies to the observation tower in Lepetimnos) as well as for commercial reasons. The legend has it that the wife of the master builder was built inside the bridge.
A small but valuable Archeological and Folklore collection was created in 2001 with the cooperation of K’ Unit of Prehistoric and Classical Antiquities with the Municipality of Agia Paraskevi. The museum is housed in the ground floor of Napi’s Primary School. In this museum, the visitor can see five well preserved aeolic capitals from the 8th century BC, coming from the sanctuary of Klopedi. These capitals had been transferred to the area “Trouloti” and were used, in early Christian Ages, as building parts of the Basilica “Taxiarchis Troulotis”, where one can find today copies of the originals. In a nearby room, visitors can find an important folklore collection regarding the farming tradition of the village of Napi as well as a wonderful painting by famous painter Theofilos. The museum remains open to the public daily, except on Mondays.
Places to visit:
Educational Institute of Agia Paraskevi (1925), City Hall (1930), Municipal Bathhouse (1898), Communal Oil Press (1910) – Museum of Industrial Oil Production of Lesbos (Cultural Institute of Bank of Pireus Group), Municipal Cultural Center, Folklore Collection of Napi, impressive mansions of Agia Paraskevi, industrial buildings of late 19th and early 20th century.
The Museum of Industrial Oil Production of Lesbos, in Agia Paraskevi, was created by the Cultural Institute of the Bank of Pireus Group, which also has the responsibility of its operation. It is housed in the area of the old communal oil press, a wonderful building, and it was created after the renovation of the building facilities. The renovation work was included in the Peripheral Business Program of North Aegean 2000-2006 and was funded by the Community Support Framework III. The museum belongs to the network of theme technological museums of the Cultural Institute of the Bank of Pireus Group, following the creation of the Museum of Olive tree and Greek Olive oil in Sparta.
The building complex of Agia Paraskevi becomes a “museum of itself” since all architectural and mechanic features have been restored to their primary form. The surviving equipment, which has been restored, is beautifully highlighted with digital projections that surround them. The evolution of machinery is presented, focusing especially on the changes that were brought by the introduction of mechanic movement in oil production. In the main building visitors see the three main stages of olive oil production (olive crash, compression of the olive mush, separation of oil from water) and the complementary operation of flour mills.
The old storage houses of the olive fruits (“bates”) now operate as complementary exhibition units, which a special reference to the human element. In the big storage houses, visitors will learn about :a) the history of the community oil press of Agia Paraskevi, emphasizing on the innovative aspect of communal property and its effect on the socioeconomic structures of the area, b) the industrialization of oil production in Lesbos and c) the broader socioeconomic background. In the small storage houses, all works related to oil production are presented.
The Museum includes a room for multiple uses, a café and an open space theatre.
The Museum of Industrial Oil Production of Lesbos aims at presenting the industrial heritage in the field of oil production as well as in the broader field of technology, and to integrate it in the wider architectural, social and cultural context.
Six community traditional guesthouses operate in the same area.
Municipal unit of Agia Paraskevi