The Chapel of Agios Stefanos

Far removed from the main tourist routes, situated on the shores of a quaint little cove, we find the chapel of Agios Stefanos. Even though it has been neglected and forgotten for many years, it survives as a unique example of Byzantine architecture on the Greek islands.
Although small in size, it’s design is in accordance with the standard Byzantine church style and includes all the necessary characteristics such as cross shaped roof with a dome, an interior and exterior narthex, three interior compartments, etc.It is located only 10 km from Mandamados, on the Agios Stefanos coast.

The Chapel’s history:
The Chapel’s construction is believed to have taken place between 1222 and 1224.
Its quite interesting that a chapel dedicated to Agios Stefanos is located so close to the sea, where one would expect a nautical saint to be honored instead. One theory that seeks to explain this apparent paradox is that on one occasion where Saracen pirates attacked the area, they were confronted and chased away by the locals at the site which is known today as Troupia. However, when they attempted to board their ships which they had left at Agios Stefanos, they found that these had been destroyed by the locals, and as such they were trapped and killed. In order to express their thanks for this unexpected victory against the Saracen pirates, the residents of the area erected a chapel in honor of the martyred Agios Stefanos (St. Stephen).

Today, aside from the Agios Stefanos Church, there are numerous vacation homes that have been created out of centuries-old converted pottery shacks. The celebration in honor of Agios Stefanos is held every year on August 2nd, and attracts thousands of pilgrims. The saint’s icon is covered with many silver and gold marriage wreaths (“stefana”), as this saint is considered the patron of weddings and several traditional songs that are sung on this holiday attest to this belief.


The big basilica church of Taxiarches was built in 1834 by the great technician Stratigi Kareko, while its unique stone bell tower was built in 1870.
The mosque never got to have a minaret. People say that it would not stay put since the chapel of Agia Marina was opposite it.
The stone wellheads that are scattered throughout the village, such as the one of Panagia Livada (Byzantine chapel), built in 1915 by Vassilis Arvanitis from Gelia, give evidence of the local tradition in the art of curving the stone.
When climbing the slope of Lepetimnos to reach Profitis Ilias, we encounter the chapel of Aghios Dimitrios, hidden among pine trees. The chapel was recently refurbished with the economic aid of the cultural association “Profitis Ilias”.

When looking at Lepetimnos from a distance, once can see on its centre the highest peak, “Vigla”, which is sometimes hidden in the clouds (968 m.)
The peak of Ai Lias rises on its west side and on its top lies the chapel which carries its name. The southern part of the mountain is protected from the winds and forms a smooth slope. Its northern part however is almost vertical and forms a steep slope. The path that leads to its top was carved by men, who cut the rocks, created steps and a small flat surface on which stands the chapel of Profitis Ilias. According to his biography, Prophet Ilias was fed by crows.



The islands

On the N.E. part of Lesbos, on the borders of Mandamados municipality, lays a complex of five (5) small islands, called “Tokmakia”. These islands are “Barba-Lias”, “Panagia”, “Aspronisia” (2) and “Prosologos”.

These islands, with their special beauty, offer to tourists, who visit them by boat every summer, the opportunity to enjoy deep blue waters and picturesque beaches. “Takmakia” are an ideal meeting point for fishermen as well as for all those who wish to explore the sea depths.

These islands, in all their beauty, rise from the Aegean Sea as fearless little guards in the face of the East.


The Beaches

The seaside district has several especially beautiful spots, like Agios Stefanos with its exceptional beach, Langada with its velvety sands, Kalostasi with its crystal blue waters, and the Palios peninsula with its traditional fisherman’s huts, where there once was a large community that was destroyed by Saracen pirates. This area is considered an especially good spot for fishing.

The small uninhabited Tokmakia islands that are approximately 1 Km off shore and Aspronisi in particular, are a great place for day trips. Anyone having access to even the smallest boat shouldn’t miss this opportunity!


Trekking Routes

The Municipality of Mantamados offers nature lovers numerous destinations to explore, as well as some beautiful hiking trails. There are several locations that combine excellent hiking with a glimpse into the history and cultural heritage of our island. The coastal arch that connects the areas of Pedi and Palio has a number of scenic beaches, secluded coves and other points of natural beauty waiting to be explored by all those who enjoy the sea and all that it has to offer. However, aside from the coastal areas, the Municipality offers a variety of mountain trails that can be explored either on foot or horseback. One of these trails heads out towards the Koukmidos district.

If you follow the road to Kapi, that traverses the pine forest of Agios Zaharias, you will eventually arrive in Koukmidos. This is an area of particular natural beauty thanks to the creek that runs through it. Passing the small stone bridge and the adjacent fountain, you reach the ruins of the village of Koukmidos, which have been preserved in relatively good condition.

This village was occupied almost exclusively by Muslims, but it was deserted and subsequently ransacked by villagers from neighboring communities following the island’s liberation from the Turks in December of 1912. Its bathhouse is almost intact, while the remains of the mosque and a beautiful stone fountain with dual arches can also be found there, since the Turks were known to have an appreciation for elaborate fountains. The Beautification Club of Kapi recently restored the fountain, and covered the rear part of it that had been exposed to the elements for years. The fountain’s water supply comes directly from the mountain, cold and crystal clear.

Another beautiful trail leads hikers and riders through the centuries old pines, leading them to the district’s lush valley that’s known as Platania, with its overflowing creeks that rush down from Lepetymnos and irrigate the entire region. This is where the Metropolitan Church of Agios Ioannis (St. John) once stood, and where a three day celebration was held and in which all the residents of the neighboring villages of Mantamados and Napi used to participate. The Platania valley is divided into two districts, Konta and Piso Perivolia, which are crisscrossed by a number of creeks. In Piso Perivolia, one can witness an exceptional natural phenomenon at the location known as “Agia Fotia”, where there is a small chapel where mass is held on the holiday of the Holy Spirit. Next to the chapel there is a giant boulder that inexplicably balances on top of a smaller one, and from which during the summer months there drips a steady flow of water, that is drunk by the locals as holy water.

The trail that starts at the intersection from the Pedi to Agia Marina-Halika-Peristeries-Mankatsa road traverses some of the island’s most beautiful areas. Starting out from the cobbled path that’s located next to the Byzantine bridge of Pedi, just past the intersection, we head up hill towards Agia Marina in Kavakli, under the cool shade of centuries old olive and koumaria trees on either side of the path. At times the trees are so dense that sunlight hardly makes it through to the path, but at certain spots hikers and riders get the chance to enjoy spectacular views of the sea and the neighboring Tokmakia islets with their intricate coastlines.

As we continue along the trail, we come to a clearing full of large boulders, old mill stones and foundations of homes from centuries past, which are most probably the ruins of the ancient town of Aigeirou. A small distance from this sit we find the chapel of Agia Marina, and right next to funerary tomb that has been carved in stone. As we continue along, we encounter the old village that was abandoned by its residents almost a century ago, and head north along the cobblestone path to the new village. Legend has it that it was created by a Turkish pasha that once owned the entire area.

In many spots we encounter clusters of centuries-old pine, shrub oak and other indigenous trees, up until the path starts heading downhill towards the valley of Halikas, with the large stone bridge and the abandoned water mill. On the Kavakli plateau, the air is always fresh and cool, even on the hottest days. Heading southwards, we come to Peristeries, where we encounter a Byzantine fountain with the best water in the area, which flows into the impressive Lakko Mankatsas Creek, along with all the other natural springs. This creek is one of nature’s more interesting creations; although apparently calm and peaceful, it ends up in some extremely tall and jagged rock formations that in winter months transform it into rapidly flowing waterfall that empties into a dark lagoon with strong undercurrents and a diameter of approximately 50-70 meters.

This lagoon is hardly visible from the creek’s lower bank, where the trail is located, since it is concealed behind a thick layer of trees and brush. One local legend has it that a beautiful shepherd girl used to seduce the boys from the surrounding villages to this spot, only to send them plummeting to their deaths from the tall rock formations into the dark lagoon.

There are numerous other trails that nature lovers can explore in the area, such as the one in the Laggadas district that follows a route between the chapels of Agios Demetrios and Panagia, the quaint little church of Agios Minas with its old fountain hidden amongst the dense vegetation. The Sarakina area is also worth mentioning. It is situated on the area’s rough but beautiful coast, secluded and quite a distance away from the village, where one can explore the hideouts of the Saracen pirates that used to terrorize the Aegean Sea. The area is full of ruins from various periods, which include building foundations, tombs carved into cliff sides and old wells.

Mount Lepetymnou, with its 968 meter peak that dominates the skyline above Pelopi, is an extremely beautiful natural monument that’s ideal for hiking. There are numerous trails that lead to its peak, one of the most popular of these being the one that goes through the village and dense clusters of almond, shrub plane and plane trees. After approximately one hour of hiking towards the peak, we begin to encounter alpine scenery, which continues all the way up to the observation post that’s located at the top of the mountain. Upon arriving at the observation post, the traveler is treated to a spectacular panoramic view of Lesvos, the neighboring islets and the coasts of Asia Minor, while envisioning the lost city of Troy over the horizon.

The famous chapel of the Prophet Elijah is located to the Northwest of the peak, right along the mountain’s crest, precariously perched upon a titanic boulder.

It’s quite obvious that the Municipality of Mantamados has something to offer to even the most demanding nature-lover, from the lovely beaches of Northeast Lesvos to the awe-inspiring beauty of Mount Lepetymnou.

We’ll be expecting you.

Tourist Resorts

The community of Pedi

On the 6th klm of the road connecting Mandamados and Mytilene, we come across the community of Pedi. With the area of Skidia consists of approximately 50 vacation residences, a public beach with an adjacent parking area, two restaurants, a beach bar and refreshment stand, as well as a small marina that can cater to several small yachts. Pedi is one of the best known beaches on the island, which is famous for its shallow waters and fine sand.
In general, the community of Pedi is the beginning of a line from recreational communities, who leads to the community of “Palios”, it covers a beam roughly 10 kms, where someone can discover magic beaches.

The community of Aspropotamos

The community of Aspropotamos begins there that finishes the limits of Pedi. This community, along with the area known as Troupia, consists of approximately 85 vacation homes, 7 permanent residences, 3 groupings of rooms for rent, a bakery, a fish restaurant, a traditional coffee shop, an organized beach with a parking area, a marina that can cater to up to 50 small boats and a launch ramp. Here, one can also see the abandoned “tsoukalaria” that remain standing and once were part of the largest community of “tsoukalades” (vat makers) on the island. Most of these that have been saved and are still in use today have been transformed into vacation homes.

Settlements “Aghios Stefanos”- “Kolostasi”

The traditional settlement took its name from the Byzantine church of “Aghios Stefanos” (11th-12th century A.D.). In the area, one can see potteries in their original form, but only two out of four, give evidence of the original way of making clay and the molding of the traditional clay pots. Due to the special properties of the area’s soil, these pots could cool the water, and this made them especially needed, ever since the Turkish occupation, in all the ports of Eastern Mediterranean. In this area lies the renowned Byzantine church of Aghios Stefanos, made up from the local red rock, a church that has lived through a history of about 7 centuries.

Settlement “Palios”

Behind Ag.Stefanos lies the area of Kalafatis (possible exile location of the Byzantine official) – a wonderful rocky beach with pine trees and two deserted potteries. In the area of Kamila, a little bit further, is located the “golden sand”, an extraordinary beach with velvet sand and rocks, and the little islands “Tokmakia” across the sea. Behind the peninsula of Kamila lies the area Anoixtos and further down the settlement “Palios” with about twenty (20) country houses, carved graves and archeological sites. A Byzantine water system, which provided water to the whole desert area, is preserved until today in a very good state. Among the olive trees, one can find ruins of the old-Christian settlement which according to researchers must have been built on top of an older roman but was destroyed by the Saracen pirates’ invasions. Evidence of the settlement’s life during the first Christian years is the monolith with an engraved cross on it- part of a temple of which only the foundations can be seen.

Settlement “Geni-Limani”

At a distance of 5km from the district of Kapi, lies hidden, in a charming and picturesque location, the village’s port “Geni-Limani”. The existence of this settlement dates back to the beginning of the century, and it is said to have been an important center of economic development of the area, mainly due to the customs’ house that used to operate there.
Today, the area is a major tourist destination of many of the island’s visitors, since one can enjoy the crystal blue waters of the Aegean, and taste traditional “meze” and fresh fish in the taverns on the beach.

Settlement “Tsonia”

One of the best-known tourist locations of the island, the settlement of “Tsonia” is found 5 km. S/E of the district of Klios. A settlement with over 150 country houses and a little port that can host about 40-45 small fishermen or other boats, it is actually the port of Klio village and is famous for its scenic location, the red sand beach (approximately 1 km long) and the clear waters of the area.