Panagiouda - Charming Seaside Location with Palm Tree Forest
Panagiouda is a seaside village six kilometres away from Mytilene. The quaint, charming location includes an imposing church dedicated to the Virgin Mary (the ‘Panagiouda’ of the local dialect), the Palm Tree Forest of Kalamionas and a paved coastal lane that runs along the small village harbour and is highly inviting of a leisurely walk on the shore.
Panagiouda was established in the year 1867 by immigrants from Asia Minor and the nearby village of Afalonas following a series of devastating earthquakes. Its 705 residents (2001 survey) are engaged predominantly in fishing. Even as Panagiouda attracts numerous visitors over the months of summer, there has been little tourist development in the village. In effect, Panagiouda remains a picturesque settlement whose traditional character has remained intact and where the age-old customs of Lesvos have been preserved to the present.
The village harbour is a quaint seaside location where visitors can admire the brightly-painted fishing boats and enjoy a variety of local dishes and freshly-caught fish. A number of the old buildings lining the shore have been renovated and house the several cafes and bars situated along the coast.
The main church of Panagiouda was erected in the year 1896. Designed by the great Lesvian architect Argyris Adalis, it is an imposing structure with a gothic-styled dome. The small temple of Agia Argyri (Saint Silver) was constructed in 2003 and includes a beautiful religious icon of the Saint - the protector of youth and young love - holding a pair of wedding wreaths.
Panagiouda has known a degree of industrial development due to its successful soap-making industry of yesteryear. One of the main soap-producing areas of 19th century Lesvos, the village would have contributed to the production of the fine olive oil soap exported to Atalia, Smyrna, Constantinople, Odessa and the Black Sea. The old soap factory of Panagiouda has been abandoned for any number of decades and may still be seen on the coast of the village.
Visitors to the coast a little north of the main settlement can roam in the location of ‘Finikodasos’ (or ‘Kalamiaris’, as it is also called) with its homonymous Palm Tree Forest and beach. The Palm Tree Forest of Panagiouda is composed of around 150 Phoenix canariensis trees, a small Livistona chinensis and a Mexican Brahea armata.
The area of Kalamiaris was the birthplace of numerous significant individuals. Among them was Panagiotis Alepoudelis, the father of the Nobel award winning poet Odysseas Elytis.
The rites, customs and traditions related to the Orthodox celebration of Easter have been kept alive in the entirety of Lesvos island. Among other Lesvian villages, Panagiouda is renowned for its preservation of the burning of Judas, a custom that is re-enlivened each Saturday before Easter. A likeness of Judas is hung from a tree, set alight and shot at repeatedly until the shower of bullets has severed the tree trunk in half.