The region comprising the Municipality of Polichnitos is made up of the beautiful villages and hamlets of Vassilika, Lisvori, Polichnitos, Skala Polichnitos, Nyfida, Vrisa, Vatera, and Stavros. It combines the beauty of its natural landscape with a dynamic human presence since earliest history. Located in the southwestern portion of the island (45 klm from the capital, Mytilene), it has an equal balance of olive groves, pine forests, natural springs, and superb beaches.
The name Polichnitos is a compound of the words “polla ichni” (many traces). Local oral tradition has it that out of fear of the Saracen pirates, many small, mostly coastal hamlets (ichni) relocated to their current inland position, surrounded by hills, and invisible both from the Bay of Kalloni and the Aegean Sea.
The region is fascinating. The discovery of Paleolithic tools and the systematic recording and study of animal fossils in the Vatera region fill one page alone. There are also countless early Christian churches and monasteries, and picturesque chapels. The stonework used the modern villages is unique. You’ll also find a Folklore Museum, a Museum of Natural History, and the famous thermal spas at Polichnitos and Lisvori. The wetlands of the Bay of Kalloni and Almyropotamos are of particular interest. The combination of these attractions and the vast beaches at Vatera and Nyfi, the comfortable lodgings, the fresh fish and shellfish from the Bay, and the many cafés and eateries lining the beaches make this a perfect holiday spot.
Must-sees include the Cathedral of Agios Georgios, with its magnificent stone bell tower, considered the most beautiful in Lesvos, and the Museum of Folklore and History, which contains an extensive collection old tools and everyday utensils. Noteworthy, too, is the 12th century Moni Damandrios, with its old frescos.
The surroundings are known for their rich flora and fauna. Lisvori produces the sweetest chickpeas on the island, and its aniseed, used to flavor Mytilenian ouzo, is much sought after.
The Municipality of Polichnitos has many important archeological sites. Kourtir, in Lisvori, is one of the earliest Bronze Age settlements. At Achladeri, on the eastern side of the Bay of Kalloni, you’ll find the submerged remains of the ancient city of Pyrra. Sections of the city’s harbor works and traces of its temple are visible on the seabed.
This picturesque village is located in the southern portion of the island, 51 kilometers from Mytilene. In addition to its long history, it has an especially interesting Natural History Collection.
The basilica of Zoodochou Pigi (Wellspring of Life) with its fine templon screen is a noteworthy Byzantine monument.
The region is famous for its olive oil, which is the primary occupation of its inhabitants. Walk through the inviting narrow little streets and enjoy the tidy stone houses, fragrant flower gardens and the few shops that are still in operation. The weathered walls retain their pastel hues of pink, orange, ochre and blue. And the lively square with its shady plane tree is pervaded with the atmosphere of a bygone era: youths roaming around on motorbikes, children playing in the street, old men chatting in coffee shops. Strike up a conversation with the locals, drink some water from the village fountain and try the bread baked in a stone oven. Every coffee shop serves ouzo and meze, traditional-brewed Greek coffee and spoon-sweets.
The Natural History Collection
The Paleontological finds from the region’s river-fed lakes and lake deposits are believed to be unique not only in Greece but in all of Europe. On display in the Vrisa Natural History Collection, which is temporarily housed in the schoolhouse, are fossils, rocks, a number of taxidermed animals, a reproduction of a giant turtle, bones of giraffes, deer, antelopes, gazelles, oxen, and the jawbone and parts of the skeletons of two proboscidean ancestors of the modern elephant. Most impressive of all are the bones of a family of giant apes of the genus Paradolipithecus, the earliest representatives found to date in Europe.
Don’t miss out on one of the most scenic little coves on the Bay, whose shellfish right from the sea will wet your appetite. You won’t want to leave!
Be sure to visit leeward Nyfida, one of the Bay’s most ethereal beaches. Tavernas there serve excellent fresh seafood and fish straight from the sea. In summer months the locals gather in the café-bars, changing the tone and atmosphere of the place.
One of the most unique regions in the Mediterranean, Vatera is characterized by its unrivaled natural beauty. Its 9-kilometer stretch of beachfront whose width ranges from 10 to 30 meters is one of the island’s most famous resorts. During the summer you’ll find many lodgings, tavernas and bars for comfortable, carefree seaside holidays.
Kato and Ano Stavros
The Vourkos River empties into the eastern end of Vatera, in an area filled with olive trees and surrounded by pine-covered mountains. If you follow the river you’ll come across two picturesque little villages nestled in its valley, Kato (Lower) and Ano (Upper) Stavros. Stop at one of the little cafés before ascending into the mountains that rise to the east and conceal the villages of Plomari. The road from Kato Stavros winds through the olive groves, which are replaced by trachea pine forests the higher you go. The summit offers a panoramic view.
Continue your northward ascent. The pines and spectacular gullies accompany you on you way. On your right you’ll see Mt. Olympos. The uphill trail will take you to the deserted chapel of the Prophet Ilias. From there the island literally spreads at your feet and the view is utterly enchanting.
Continuing on, you’ll find the dried bed of Megali Limni (Great Lake) with its outdoor green market. Locally grown produce waiting for you to sample include unique Agiassos sour apples, pears, mountain greens, cabbage, cauliflower, and grapes.