Agiasos is a town and a municipality on the island of Lesvos, in Lesvos Prefecture of North Aegean Periphery, Greece.
According to the 2001 national census it has a population of 2.587 inhabitants. Other settlements belonging to the Municipality are Sanatorio with 68, Karini with 18 and the Great Lake with 3 inhabitants.
Agiasos is built amphitheatrically at the eastern slopes of Mount Olympus (968m) at an altitude of 500m. It is surrounded by arable land, olive groves, forests and steep, inaccessible areas. It has a total land area of 79.900 Klm2.
Agiasos is a preserved settlement according to the 19.10/13-11-1978 P.D(Presidential Decree). (Official Gazette 594/D/13-11-1978).
Our folk tradition says that Monk Agathon from Efesos came from Jerusalem in 802 A.D. bringing the Icon of Mother Virgin “Saint Sion” (painted by Saint Lucas) and other sacred objects. He built his hermitage at the place where Agiasos is located today. In 1170 AD the first church-monastery was built there and the settlement spread gradually around it.
The keystones of Agiasos economy have always been its farming and handicraft.
Furthermore, Agiasos has had a rich cultural tradition thus it is considered as the “mother of Lesvos folk tradition”.
Anagnostirio - its cultural center - was founded in 1894 and it has been the Arc of Agiasos Folklore heritage. Even today it is actively involved in several national, social and cultural events and actions.
The church of Mother Virgin is a main attraction for the visitor. It is a three aisled basilica surrounded by tall walls since it used to be a monastery. In the precinct there are two museums (Byzantine and Folk), the Saint Apostles chapel as well as reception rooms, storage spaces, rented shops the old guest house with 65 rooms, the Cultural Centre, the two floor hotel with 14 rooms and 28 beds and the bell tower.
The Folklore Museum at the Churchyard of the Assumption of the Virgin Chapel. Here you can see an assimilation of a traditional Agiasos House. Furthermore, it contains valuable folk works of art and craft such as embroidered clothes, local outfits, fine needlework and hand-woven material, old cooking utensils etc. as well as old jewelry which were donations of religious people (rings, bracelets, earrings, pins, brooches etc.) and old coins.
The Church Museum is in the precinct of the Assumption of the Virgin Church. It is of great interest because there is an exhibition containing a Cross made of Holy Wood, some Holy relics, Holy Gospels and Utensils, old hanging oil lamps (18th century), a golden embroidered stole (16th century), the embroidered epitaph cloth of Mother Virgin, embroidered covers, an old prayer book, old Venetian furniture etc.
The Garden of Mother Virgin is an area at the entrance of the village above the Town Hall. It is surrounded by luxuriant vegetation. In the Garden there is one of the oldest cafes of Agiasos and a perennial plane tree in the shade of which you can relax enjoying the view of the village houses cascading down the slope of the mountain.
· The chapels of the Source of Life and Agathon from Ephesus who according to the legend brought the Icon of Mother Virgin “Agia Sion” from Jerusalem and built his hermitage in the area.
The Church of the Holy Trinity located in the area of “Kamboudi” at the upper entrance of the village. It is the second biggest church in Agiasos. It was built in 1870 and its design is a true copy of the church of Mother Virgin and the other 18th century Basilicas on Lesvos. In the church there are a lot of valuable icons some of them dating from the 17th century. The bell tower of the church is small and very elegant.
The “Anagnostirio” of Agiasos called “ANAPTIXI” (which means development and progress), is the ark of our folk tradition and is located at the City Hall Square (old bus station square). Our Cultural Centre was founded in 1894 (during the Turkish Occupation on Lesvos) and owns a library with 20000 volumes, a cinema theatre of 300 seats designed by the architect G,Gianoulellis and the famous Greek painter G.Tsarouchis. It also owns a Folk Art Museum built on the architectural models of our traditional settlement hosting the Art Gallery of Lesvos Artists and a museum of Folk Art.
Market Square with the neoclassic café “Kafentaria” which is situated further up from Mother Virgin Church. It is a very picturesque place with cobblestones and metal pergolas covered with shady, climbing plants bridging the surrounding streets. It has always been the center of the village and the heart of its social life.
The picturesque well-known Stavri, the junction of the central street with a very old bridge. There, under the shades of a perennial plane tree you can rest at the small café drinking refreshing ouzo and delicious appetizers or climb down the cobbled path (patoumeni) going to Asomatos and Karini.
Karini is a magnificent country site only 9 Klms from Agiasos. It is an oasis in the middle of a vast olive grove. Surrounded by luxuriant vegetation of walnut trees and orchards, under the thick shade of perennial plane trees, visitors will find peace and quiet. They will be able to rest and cool off the heat of the day drinking refreshing, cold, crystal clear water welling up from an old Roman spring while tasting local delicacies at the little cafes. They will admire the huge hollow of the old plane tree our famous folk artist Theofilus Chatzimichael used to livein for some time while painting frescos on the walls of a nearby café. Here he painted his well known “Erotocretos and Arethousa”, “Katsandonis” and “Zallogos Dance”. Today, effort is made by the 8th Department of Curators of the Ministry of Culture to restore and preserve those frescos.
Karini is the starting point of an old cobbled trekking path called “Patoumeni” which leads to Asomatos and Agiasos. The area of Karini has been characterized as a “preserved natural monument” by the 3801/11-8-2003 decree of the Environmental Department of the North Aegean Periphery. It is to be added in the list of the Officially Protected Natural Areas of Greece.
One Klm away from Agiasos-Polichnitos junction, we enter the little valley of Saint Dimitris named after the small chapel of Saint Dimitris standing there. The magnificent beauty of the scenery is breathtaking: picturesque little cafes, surrounded by wonderful orchards, crystal clear running waters, luxuriant vegetation, thick olive groves and pine forests.
More information at the site of Anagnostirio of Agiasos
Agiasos, the mother of Lesvos Folklore culture used to celebrate many local religious festivals connected to the Christian Orthodox Church Calendar. Unfortunately, today’s social reality, often an impediment to spontaneous folk expression and creativity (prevailing culture of urban centers, control and definition of tradition by experts and associations, TV influence) as well as the commercialization of entertainment and the rapid social changes have effaced most of these religious festivals.
Today except from the big commercial and religious festivity in Honour of Mother Virgin on August 15th, Christmas and Easter customs, the annual Carnival events and the revival of the custom of “Kapsala-Klidonas” people of Agiasos celebrate the memory Prophet Elias on July 20th. All events for that day are organized by the Riders Association of Agiasos called “Prophet Elias”.
Municipal Unit of Agiasos