This region took its name from the thermal springs that have been bubbled out of the ground here for centuries. The Turks called it Sarlitza, from sari, meaning yellow, and litza, meaning curative thermal water, or hot-spring. It was called this because of the dark yellow color that the water leaves on the tanks and channels. Archeological finds show that Artemis, the supervisor of healing waters, was worshipped here.
This is a relatively recent name, taken in the 17th century from the castles (pyrgi) built here by the Turks and wealthy Mytilene Greeks. These houses resemble fortresses, with tall stone walls, wooden balconies and majestic entrances. On your right, you’ll see the Nianias castle, built in 1671. Today only a very few survive of the 160 castles that existed in the area in the early 20th century, and these are now protected landmarks. If you turn right towards the sea you’ll come to Kanoni beach, a good place for clubbing from afternoon to evening and sampling the latest trends in snacks and cocktails. Stretch out on a lounge under an umbrella, take a dip in the sand and enjoy the music. Two fashionable bar-restaurants, Anemokampi and Mayotte, are particularly charming.
The Lesvos Inn Resort & Spa has excellent service, a family atmosphere and a beautiful view.
Archeological excavations in the Petralonia area next to Kanoni beach brought to light the layers and traces of five cities from the early third millennium, one built on top of the other. A sixth later city was discovered on top of their ruins, which dates from the middle of the second millennium. The first two cities of Thermi are contemporaneous with the first city of Troy. Important finds from the excavations here are on display in the Mytilene Archeological Museum.
The many building foundations, inscriptions and architectural elements found over the years scattered throughout the area around the baths testify to the glory and significance of this religious and healing center. You can see some of these fragments in the outdoor archeological site at Horafa, just outside of Sarlitza.
This is a picturesque harbor for fishing boats and small craft. Matchmaking is the name of the game here in the summer, as the youth of the village promenade along the shore near the restored windmill that hosts various summertime events. If you have the time, relax here and try chatting up the locals.
In the early 20th century Thermi was famous for its luxury hotel, the Sarlitza Pallas, which was built in 1909 based on the designs of French architects for Hassan Efendi Mola Mustafa.
It passed into the hands of the Greek government and flourished for some 30 years, attracting visitors and famous figures from East and West alike. It began declining in 1933, with the exception of some small glimmers and, stuck in the gears of bureaucracy and indifference, finally succumbed to the ravages of time. Today only the baths are in operation.
The Churches of Thermi
One very important monument is the Byzantine church of the Panagia (Holy Mother) Troulotis in Pyrgi Thermi. The basilica (probably 14th century) has a cruciform structure.
In the last decades of the 20th century, Thermi gained world acclaim for its Monastery of Sts Rafael, Nicolas and Irene.
The Thermi district is rapidly growing as a tourist destination, with small hotels, tavernas, trendy clubs and restaurants. Its beach, Kanoni, attracts thousands of tourists each year. Other good places for swimming and eating are Petalidi, Skala Nees Kydonies, and Skala Mystegna, which offer rooms right on the sea.
The clean water and beaches, picturesque tavernas and local cuisine are the ideal conditions for lovely, peaceful holidays.
Petalidi is a beautiful bay with sparkling turquoise water, ideal for an all-day getaway. There you’ll find the hotel of the same name with an excellent restaurant for those wishing to make this their family holiday destination.
This village is known for its famous red stone, used in the construction of many public buildings throughout the island.
This beautiful pebble beach is long and narrow with crystal clear water. Behind the olive-covered hill, on the edge of the horizon, you can see the coast of Turkey. If you happen on a particularly clear day, you can even make out the cars traveling along it. Skala Mystegna is just the place for those longing for tranquil, intimate holidays and good food. The tavernas have the freshest fish and local meat and are situated right on the beach. Some put out tables under the shady tamarisk trees. There are many rooms to rent here, as well as houses that are let by the year.
If you feel like taking a boat ride, it’s easy to find an amateur fisherman who’ll take you fishing with him. This is a tiny place with a friendly atmosphere. In no time you’ll know everyone and be chatting and drinking ouzo with most of the villagers. Holidays in Skala Mystegna are economical as well as utterly delightful. With the little boats dotting the tranquil sea, vegetable gardens and windswept cottages, it’s a charming sight that offers visitors a completely different lifestyle.
Nees Kydonies (Baltziki), Pigi, Komi
Seven kilometers from Thermi, in an area filled with pine and olive trees, are the villages of Pigi and Komi, known for their annual Panigyri tou Tavrou (The Festival of the Bull), and their exceptional olive oil. Be sure to sample the unique cheeses as well.
Nees Kydonies is the Greek name for Ayvalik, the original name given to it by the Asia Minor refugees who built it. Before going down to the beach, take in the panoramic view. Then enjoy some charcoal-grilled sardines at the lighthouse for your efforts. The pebble-lined bay on the right beckons you for quick dip in the sparkling water. If you take the road to Mantamados you’ll run into scenic Xambelia beach. A swim followed by a relaxing meal in the taverna here is the perfect thing.