LESBOS North - Petra

Petra is another popular town and  summer resort on the island ( 55 km away from Mytilini), nestling around a huge rock that lent it its name, in the middle of a green plain enclosed within a big sandy embrace. In the town you can find a branch of the Greek  Telecommunications Office , banks, a public clinic, a veterinary, cars and bicycles to hire.

 The town is  famed for the Church of Panagia the Glykofiloussa located at the top of the rock and  visited yearly by pilgrims. The church is a three aisled basilica, constructed on a rock 30 metres high and situated in the centre of the village. It is  accessed by 114 steps carved on the rock,  crafted with a lot of pain and care.

Around 1500 - and a lot before the church took its present day form- this rock had been a kind of fortress during the kingdom of Gatelouzi on Lesvos. There are many testimonies regarding the existence of this fortress during this time. Abbas Chr. Buodelmode from Florence (Italy), who visited Lesvos at the beginning of the 15th century, mentions in his book (published in 1420), about the islands of the Archipelago, the fortress of Petra. Bartholomew Zaberti,  refers 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 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. 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 were also found..  During the 17th century, the fact that Petra was a prosperous town in commerce and culture attracted the rapacious interest of the French pirate Hugus de Crevellier, who in 1675 pilaged and terrified the islands of Aegean. In March of the same year, he managed together with 800 pirates to conquer the village of Petra. After the pillage he took with him 500 villagers 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.

However Petra, (like the whole island) , did not escape the Turkish enslavement of 500 years. On the 4th of December in 1912, three warships of the Greek fleet, Athenai, Mycali and Esperis under the command of Admiral Koundoriotis with the collaboration of the Greek army of Mytilini liberated the village of Petra and won the battle with the Turkish army on the hill of Clapados . The Turkish army surrendered unconditionally, in the morning of the 8th December in 1912.

The town has preserved its traditional features with stone-built houses, tiled roofs and cobblestone streets, but it also provides modern day comforts for its guests. The long stretch of sandy beach alongside the main road is inviting and able to provide all beach pleasures. During the last years, the village of Petra has been developed into  a modern summer resort. In the summer, a lot of tourists visit this place, which is the "centre of amusement" with a nice beach, many bars, tavernas and restaurants.

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.

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 spectacular Aegean sunsets are best seen from Petri, a small village located on the hill above Petra, a vantage point that can’t be missed. A small distance away from Petra, the summer resort of Anaxos with the sandy beach, nightspots and quaint taverns, is a popular choice.

 PLACES WORTH VISITING

 The Church of Agios Nikolaos, a basilica of the 17th Century , located by the side of the square.

The Mansion of Vareltzidena is a restored listed monument. Its architectural rhythm is Macedonian with characteristic paintings and wooden sculpted decorations. It was built in the beginning of the 18th century and it is named after its last owner, an old lady, who died in 1940, when she was 100 years old.

The Agricultural Co-operative  Womens’ Association which was founded in 1983. Their main goals are the increase of the family income and the financial independence of the women. In the summer they rent rooms with a view over the sea or the narrow paved streets of the village,  they produce and sell homemade traditional products and they own a restaurant at the central square of the village, where traditional food is served.

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