With regard to Mandamados, we do not have any specific information regarding the exact year of its establishment. Several researchers claim that the community was first founded in pre-Hellenistic times. They base their claim on the name of the Lesvados district (where a shrine dedicated to Taxiarhis is located today), which was the ancient name of the Lesvian son of Lapithos, king of the Aioleans, who had colonized the island and given it his name. The shrine that is dedicated to Taxiarhis was quite possibly a temple to the sun god Apollo, which was subsequently converted into a Christian holy site during the first years of Christianity.
According to other accounts, the community of Mandamados was first founded at its present location a result of the consolidation of villages along the island’s shores that had been destroyed by pirate raids. This would explain the fact that it is situated inland, near the Taxiarhis chapel, in order to afford its residents a greater degree of safety from the marauding pirates. The town’s name quite possibly came from the cattle that used to graze in the area and were called “mantades”.
In 1894, Mandamados became a regional administrative center, and included the communities of Kapi, Kleio and Koukmidou in its jurisdiction, up until 1918 when each of these became self-administered villages. In 1879, construction on the Taxiarhis Church was begun, which was completed almost a decade later in 1888. The church was consecrated on Myrrh Sunday, and ever since a grand celebration is held to mark the event with worshippers visiting the town for this occasion from throughout Greece and abroad. From 1907 to 1911, the “mihani t’agiou” (saint’s machine) was built here, which was a significant event in the town’s economic and social development. In 1917, a town court was established in Mandamados that operated continuously up until the 1970s.
In Northeast Lesvos, at an altitude of 300 meters above sea level, on the foothills of the eastern face of Mt. Lepetymnou, we find the village of Kapi. It is situated 40 klms from the Prefecture’s capital. At its northernmost and southernmost corners, we find the villages two churches, Agios Georgios (St. George) and Panagia (The Virgin Mary). In the village’s main square, under the shade of a regal plane tree, there is also a small chapel dedicated to Agia Paraskevi.
The village’s residents primarily occupy themselves olive oil production and raising livestock. At the same time, most residents maintain small vegetable patches and fruit groves along the eastern side of the village for their own personal needs. In the 1960s, due to the difficult economic conditions in the village, many of its residents were forced to emigrate. The village has a significant musical tradition, and has always had many musicians amongst its residents. In decades past, there were numerous “musical troupes”, complete with brass sections, that in recent years have been replaced by more modern instruments.
The traditional musical troupes always offered up a good time to the local residents, especially on Sundays and other holidays, in the village’s main square. Today, the village has quite a substantial number of young residents, which occupy themselves with a variety of traditional jobs such as stonemasons, builders, carpenters et al. The women of the village typically produce traditional sweets and “amygdalota” (almond pastries), as well as intricate embroidered goods.
The signs of ancient civilizations are numerous on its northern slopes. Sacred temples, acropolises (fortified citadels), forts, water springs (Seven Basins), and cobble stoned paths for lumberjacks and shepherds. It seems that one of these paths led over the town of Mythimna.
It is probably the one that goes through the ridge, which is covered with brackens, after leaving behind the spring (Seven Basins) that gives out water colder than ice. Myrsilos of Lesbos, mentions that in Lepetimnos, there was a sanctuary for God Apollo and a temple for worshiping the hero Lepetimnos. It is true that high up there, apart from the wind blowing, one can hear the cries of crows as they sweep down in the abyss of the northern slope of Ai Lias.
According to the legend, Lepetimnos was a hero of the Trojan War, who married Mythimna. To honor him, the town built a shrine in which crows were used to carry the oracles. Unfortunately, this area was not properly explored. There was valid evidence that relics could be found that would prove the worship of Lepetimnos himself.
Many ceramic pieces have been discovered that support the assumption that a sanctuary existed there, of Lepetimnos or another deity. A sanctuary whose temple probably laid on the peak of the mountain where Ai Lias is found today with other buildings at the foothill as well. This can be proven by parts of vessels made of very good quality gray and red clay, which were discovered in this area. What actually set the questions and perhaps even the answers about what laid in this specific spot, were the heads of small figurines of the Hellenic era that were discovered there.
The village of Pelopi consisted of 17 smaller villages, scattered in the same area due to constant Pirates’ invasions. When the inhabitants, however, found a proper and forested area, near river Tsiknias, they abandoned their villages and built their houses there. They named this area “Gelia” (Laughter) because they no longer feared the pirates and their lives were joyous.
A different version of the etymology says that the village was built on a spot where the rays of sun (Helius) shined on it and that is why it was named Ielia, then renamed to Gelia.
After World War II, the village was again renamed to Pelopi, as it is named until today, because a king named Pelopas once traveled there.
We hope that soon the mysterious mountain of Gelia will be explored.
The village that has been named in honor of the Muse “Kleio” looks down upon the shoreline from an altitude of 350 meters. In the vicinity of Kleio we find numerous ruins of ancient settlements, and recent archaeological digs have brought to light the remains of a community dating back to the early Bronze Age period (around 3200 B.C.) at Paliokastro.
This is the spot where it is believed that a magnificent statue of the Muse Kleio originally stood, prior to being looted by pirates at some point in time. In the city of Heracleia in Italy, there is an ancient mural depicting this Muse, which is considered to be the matron of History and Rhetoric.
The ancient communities that existed here during the middle ages and the Turkish occupation were constantly living under the threat of pirate raids, forcing the locals to head up to the spot where Kleio is today, in order to be able to survey the open seas and be forewarned of any impending attacks.
The first buildings in Kleio were constructed in the area known as Platanos, all the way up to the Hamam (Roman Bath), and were hardly visible from the sea. In the centuries that followed, the village expanded significantly, once the pirates’ raids finally ended.
Municipal Unit of Mantamados