The Municipality of Petra

    The Municipality of Petra is situated to the northwest part of the island. It is consisted of the villages of Petra, of Lafiona, of Skoutaro, of Stypsi, of Ypsilometopo and of the summer resorts of Anaxos and Petri. This Municipality is 55 kilometres from Mytilini. Petra is a seaside village built in the middle of a green plain, which according to tradition, it was the Achilles' anchorage during the war of Troy. Before we take down the hill, on our way to Petra, we have the chance to admire the view over the village facing the open sea, decorated by the wide beach, the rich vegetation, the cultivations of the villagers and the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the "Glykofilousa", situated on the top of a high rock in the middle of the village.  

   During the last years, the village of Petra has been developed in a modern summer resort. In the summer, a lot of tourists visit this place, which is the "centre of amusement" with a lot of bars, taverns and restaurants. In the village of Petra, the visitor will find also a branch of the Greek Organism of Telecommunications, banks, a public clinic, a veterinary, cars and bicycles to let. Just opposite the beach of Petra there are three isolated islands. The biggest of them is called the island of St George. Caiques and fish boats that start from the port of Petra make regular trips to those islands. The visitor has the possibility to organize excursions and to spend the night in the open air. In Petra he will have his portrait made. He can either make sports or go for shopping.

    Petra is the country of many personalities of the art and letters. Among them, we distinguish Neokli Kazazi, Thrasyvoulo Stavrou, K. Frilingo and Oresti Kanelli. The ancient (Greek) graves that were found at the position Keramidaria at a distance of 600 metres from the village prove that this place has been inhabited in the past. We have also found coins of the Roman era, Byzantine relieves, a two headed eagle surrounded by a wall in the yard of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary and frescos of the 16th century in the church of St Nikolaos.  During the 17th century, the fact that Petra was a high-developed place in the domain of commerce and culture attracted the rapacious interest of the French pirate Hugus de Crevellier, who in 1675 terrifies the islands of Aegean. In the same year, during March, in one night he managed together with 800 pirates to conquest the village of Petra. After the pillage he took with him 500 inhabitants as slaves. 

    Despite the pillage of the whole village, the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary as well as all the other churches in the village of Petra escaped the destruction. This is probably due to the fact that the pirates were Christians. The village of Petra, like the whole island, did not escape the Turkish enslavement. On the 4th of December in 1912, three warships of the Greek fleet, Athenai, Mycali and Esperis into co-ordination with the Greek army of Mytilini liberated the village of Petra and beaten the Turkish army on the hill of Clapados (680). The commander in chief of the three Greek warships that anchored in the port of Petra was the Admiral Koundoriotis. The Turkish army surrendered unconditionally, in the morning of the 8th December in 1912. From the village of Petra, we have the possibility to visit the other villages of the Municipality of Petra, which are especially picturesque

Anaxos - Skoutaros 

    If the visitor prefers to enjoy a beach as beautiful as the beach of Petra and taste traditional delicacies by the sea, he can always visit the summer resort of Anaxos, 2 kilometres from Petra. If he prefers, though, the places and the beaches that are intact from the tourist side effects he can drive another three kilometres from the summer resort of Anaxos to the area of Micri Tsihranda (Ambelia). A little bit further, he will find the village of Skoutaros (7 kilometres from Petra) built on a green slope. 

Lafionas

    The village of Lafionas is situated to the northwest of Petra in a distance of 5 kilometres. It is a picturesque village with a fantastic view over the village of Petra and Mithimna, decorated by the traditional cafes and its beautiful countryside. A "Folklore Museum" is open to the public in the summer. It is established in the Primary School and its exhibition contains objects that the villagers lend to the Museum in order to keep the traditions and the past alive. According to information that passes from generation to generation, the village must have been built 400 years ago (during the period of piracy and the venetian dominion) because, as it is said, every time the inhabitants heard about a raid they quitted the village and took refuge in the woods. In the village there is also a cross-shaped basilica dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was constructed in 1807 and was restored in 1920. Its reredos is made of cypress wood, with which the inhabitants had been supplied from a sailing vessel that was carrying lumber to Smyrna and that because of the bad weather it anchored in the port of Petra. The inhabitants of Lafiona bought it then for 300 gold liras. There are only three temples of this kind on the island of Lesbos. At the rural position "Tekes", which is three kilometres from the village, we will find the first Monastery on the island constructed in 325 p. C. It is dedicated to St Alexander, who had been Mithimna' s First Bishop. St Alexander participated to the A' Ecumenical Synod of Nikea. The church is a paleochristian basilica and among the various founds we will find well maintained the engraved monument made of stone, where the relics of St Alexander was kept.

Stypsi

    Another village that belongs to the Municipality of Petra is the village of Stypsi situated to the west side of the mountain Lepetymnos. The village of Stypsi is a characteristic example of mountainous village. At the position "Castreli" we will find ruins of a small medieval castle.

Petri

    The small village of Petri is situated to the east of the Municipality of Petra, among the walnut trees and the poplars, with a panoramic view over the village of Petra. In the summer, the village of Petri becomes "an international place of meetings and gatherings". The only cafe of the village, apart from the traditional delicacies, it prepares, after order, cock elevated among the fields. The village of Petri is 2,5 kilometres from Petra. It is worth the pain to walk up there in the afternoon in order to enjoy the sunset. If you are a tradition lover you will not miss visiting the watermills at the area of Ligona, 2 kilometres from the village of Petra. Close to the watermills there still are the watercourses and the channels that have been carrying the water of the river to the watermills. Along the river there are plane trees. If you decide to make this excursion you should take with you water and food.

Natural Beauty

Beaches  

    Petra -as well as Anaxos- is gifted with one of the most beautiful and clean sandy beaches of the island. The rich vegetation is present everywhere and all the places that we mentioned above offer to the visitor the possibility for an ideal recreation. At the central square of the village that is close to the port the time of the sunset is the most pleasant time of the day, and according to the poet' s words "the nature embalms the flowers and the leaves and the branches/at Petra everything resembles to grape syrup".

Sightseeing

Churches

The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the "Glykofilousa"

    The church is a three aisled basilica, constructed on a rock that is 30 metres high and situated in the centre of the village. This steep and difficult to be approached rock is surrounded by 114 steps carved on the rock. It is a piece of work made with a lot of pain and a lot of care. Around 1500 - and a lot before the church takes its today form- this rock had been a kind of fortress during the kingdom of Gatelouzi on Lesbos. We have a lot of testimonies that concern the existence of this fortress during this time. The Avva Chr. Buodelmode from Florence (Italy), who visited Lesbos at the beginning of the 15th century, mentions to his book, About the islands of the Archipelago that has been published in 1420, among the other fortresses the fortress of Petra. Bartholomew Zaberti is referred in one of his sonnets to the fortress of Petra. On some medieval maps the fortress of Petra is marked right on the rock. 

    The coat of arms that belongs to Gatelouzi, as well as a two headed eagle surrounded by a wall to the east side of the wall in the yard of the church are still well maintained. It is really remarkable that right inside the fortress there was a small church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary that dates back to 1462, the year that the island of Lesbos has come under the Turkish rule. In 1609 a bigger church with cells was constructed. In 1840, according to turkish written order that is saved until today, a complete restoration of the church takes place and the church takes its present form. The same conclusion results from the inscription "CHIEF WORKMAN OF THE CHURCH: STRATIGI KAREKOS 1840" that is engraved on a flat stone embedded on the church' s belfry. The same time a wooden sculptured Episcopal Throne and a wooden painted reredos are constructed in the church. The chief workman of this church is Stratigi Karekos from the village of Anemotia.

    According to the legend, around 1600, a boat from Galaxidi anchored to the small islands, opposite Petra. These islands are considered to be a natural and safe port. One night, the captain, who was a god-fearing person, went to the hold in order to burn incense in the honour of the Blessed Virgin. Mary. When he got there, he found out that the miraculous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Glykofilousa was missing. He made the sign of the cross and he got back to the deck. He turned his look towards the land and he noticed that the deserted until then rock was surrounded by a divine brightness. Full of joy then, the captain took his crew and climbed on the steep rock, where they found the missing icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. They took it and they returned to the boat. The next morning the captain did not find the icon missing again. Then he figured out that it was the Blessed Virgin Mary' s will to remain on the firm rock and have on its top her "home". He thought that he should not go against her will. He went to the village' s notables and tells them the whole story. Then after the notables talked about it they decided to spend the necessary money in order to construct on the rock a small church dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. So, the small church is built around 1600, and as the legend says, an inscription embedded in the belfry shows the year of its construction.

    On the inscription it is written: "Year 1609. Vranas Vatatsi". Later, in 1747, the notables of the village wanted to extend it. For this reason, they sold the properties of the other churches and with the money they gathered, they began to construct the church. There building did not need foundations. It was based on the solid rock and the sake of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The whole village, men, women and children, started to carry the necessary materials for the construction, such as stones and quicklime. The builders fastened with ropes, without any fear - since they were building the own Blessed Virgin Mary' s "home"- they went on building the church. According to the legend, one Saturday night, while the supervisor was treating the workers he slipped and he fell in the vacuum. Everybody turnedaround and expected to see his dead body. Instead of that, they saw him standing on his feet, harmless holding the tray in his hands. So they kept on building the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Glykofilousa, which very soon was ready, majestic and impressive. All the believers dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary silver and golden jewels, as votive offerings, hoping that the sake of the Blessed Virgin Mary will save the patient of their family. The respect and the fear that the believer showed towards the Blessed Virgin Mary was even expressed in popular poems.

The Church of St Nikolaos

    We will find the Church of St Nikolaos in the centre of the village under the shade of an old plane tree. It is a basilica with one aisle. On its walls three layers of frescos were found. It is possible that the first layer dates back to the 16th century. An inscription that we find in the church is referred to the painter Nikolao Fitzi from Peloponnese, as the one, who "put the church in order"/restored, in 1721. The church was restored in 1937. Today it is considered a preservable monument.

Museums

The Mansion of Vareltzidena

    The "Mansion of Vareltzidena has been characterized a preservable monument. Its architectural rhythm is Macedonian with a characteristic painting and a wooden sculptured decoration. It is built in the beginning of the 18th century and it is named after its last inhabitant, an old lady, who died in 1940, when she was 100 years old. In 1963, the Ministry of Civilization bought it from Vareltzidena' s heirs. The house consists of two stories (a ground floor and one floor upstairs). In the ground floor there is a big storeroom, where olive oil and wine was stored. In the upstairs floor there is a big reception room and around it rooms. In one of these rooms the landlord used to invite the notables of the village in order to discus the village' s problems. The throne of the landlord still exists and on it we can see his coat of arms. The ceiling is decorated with a pigeon, the symbolism of the Peace. On the roof of the mansion there is a hiding-place, where the owners were hiding from the pirates. In the ladies living room, on the walls there are paintings that represent Constantinople.

Architecture

    Most of the houses in Petra are made of stone and their roof is covered with tiles. In the beginning of the past century, the houses of the rich people had two stories (ground floor and one floor upstairs), where the ground floor was built only from stone and had no windows. The first floor from its three sides was made of wood and had balconies (called "sahnisinia"). The ground floor consisted of a big yard paved with flat stones from Malta and of a big storeroom. 

Tradition

Customs and habits

    The greatest and brightest religious festival of the village on the 15th every year is the religious festival dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This festival is the most important event at least to the northeast part of the island. From every part of Lesbos We will see believers coming to the Blessed Virgin Mary to honour her sake. Popular dances and songs at the central square of the village accompany this celebration. 

Associations - Local Products

Agricultural Association of the Women of Petra

    The Association was founded in 1983. The initiative of its foundation belongs to the General Office for the Equality of the two sexes. Twenty-four women, who come from Petra, founded the first Agricultural Association of Women in Greece. Their main goals were and still are the increase of the family income on behalf of the woman and her economic independence. These women rent rooms with a view over the sea or the narrow paved streets of the village, which is decorated with beautiful gardens. You have the possibility to stay with your family either to the rooms rented by the association or stay to a small house on your own. In the morning, a delicious homemade breakfast expects you. During the summer, the women of the Association own a restaurant at the central square of the village, where traditional food is served.

Calendar

Religious Festivals of Petra

    The Religious Festival of St Kyriaki. It is celebrated on the 7th of July

    The Religious Festival of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is celebrated on the 15th of August.

Religious Festival of Lafiona

    The Religious Festival of St Paraskevi. It is celebrated on the 26th of July.

 

Useful Phone Numbers (22530)

Town Hal: 41235

Peripheral M.C: 41210

Police Station: 41222

Agro-tourist Woman's Cooperative of Petra: 41238

P.O.: 41230

The Vareltzidaina Mansion: 41235

Police Station Stypsi: 91222

Peripheral M.C Stypsi: 91204

NICHOLAS HOUSE Studios,  Petra  81109,  Lesvos Island,  Greece,  Tel. 0030 22530 41070