Mandamados - The Ceramists and the Miraculous Archangel Michael

  1. General Information
  2. The Monastery of Mandamados:
        2.1  History and Religious Folklore
        2.2  The Miraculous Icon of the Archangel Michael
        2.3  Visiting the Monastery
  3. Religious Festivals
  4. Traditional Products of Mandamados
  5. The Ceramists of Mandamados
  6. Activities
  7. Nearby Attractions

General Information

The municipality of Mandamados is located in the northeast region of Lesvos and covers a total area of 119.6 square kilometers. Together with the homonymous village of Mandamados, the municipality includes the settlements of Kapi, Kleio and Pelopi. Approximately 3.210 permanent residents live in the area.

The village of Mandamados is steeped in rich history and awe-inspiring religious folklore. A number of historical facts and popular legends embellish the history of its Monastery of Taxiarches (Saint Michael the Archangel), reminding believers of the intervention of the divine into the life of mortals and of the miraculous force of religious faith.

The Monastery of Mandamados:

History and Religious Folklore

The monastery of Taxiarches had already been established just outside Stenakas, a city near the original Mandamados, before the 10th century AD. The Byzantine state was in full command of the island and the Aegean seas were being ransacked by Saracean pirates. The monastery was fortified to withstand attack by outsiders and resembled a fortress - a thing that attracted the attention of the pirates and compelled their savage wish to invade it.

The Saracean pirates set sail for Lesvos and approached the monastery in the night. Soon enough, they were forcing their way into the shrine, exterminating any monk standing in their way. A young monk named Gabriel witnessed the violent events unravelling before his eyes and fled to the roof of the temple. All other inmates to the monastery lay dead in a pool of their own blood.

The pirates charged after Gabriel when, suddenly, the roof of the temple became transformed into a raging sea. An angry soldier-angel with a flaming sword was striding the waves. The pirates dropped their loot and ran away in terror. Gabriel, suddenly alone in the aftermath of the tragedy, tried to envisage the angel’s face, remembering the sweet countenance of Saint Michael the Archangel.

Longing to paint the Archangel’s face, Gabriel began sponging the dead monks’ blood off the floor, all the while praying to Saint Michael that the Lord rest his brothers and he be able to depict the Archangel’s face in an icon seen by many and admired by all.

The Miraculous Icon of the Archangel Michael

The icon of Saint Michael the Archangel decorates the contemporary monastery of Mandamados, a destination for hundreds of pilgrims each year. It is claimed that it was created by the hand of the apprentice monk called Gabriel in the 10th-11th century AD and fashioned out of clay made from the monks’ blood mixed with earth. This image of the Archangel is imprinted into the minds of believers and it is worth witnessing its simplicity and awe-inspiring prowess.

Another breathtaking icon of the Archangel is set in the entrance to the monastery. Immensely tall and armored, Saint Michael casts a watchful glance over the monastery grounds.

Visiting the Monastery

A visit to the Monastery of Mandamados is highly recommended whether you’re eager to pay your respects to the Archangel, wander around the monastery’s peaceful grounds or merely enjoy a dish of the famous honeyed ‘loukoumades’ of Mandamados in the nearby café.

Religious Festivals

If you happen to be on Lesvos in springtime, do no miss the celebrations in honor of Taxiarches a fortnight after the Orthodox Easter. It is a major cultural and religious event in the area, when Mandamados is saturated with visitors. The festivities are traditionally spectacular and will give you an insight into the ancient rites and celebratory practices of the region.

Traditional Products of Mandamados

The village of Mandamados is inhabited mostly by olive-oil producers, farmers, skilled ceramists and manufacturers of dairy products. The dairy products of Mandamados are made using traditional techniques and are widely admired for their quality. While in the village, do have a taste of Mandamados cheeses and yogurt, the latter still sold in the traditional ceramic ‘gragoudes’ (husks). A jar of Mandamados honey - which is prized for its quality nationwide - will be a great present to bring home to your loved ones.

The Ceramists of Mandamados

Mandamados is also known for its ceramists. These highly skilled artists create, display and sell their works in the village and preserve the ancient techniques of their craft. If you are on Lesvos in August, do pay a visit to the Lesvian Ceramics Exhibition that takes place in the village each summer. It showcases the creations of local ceramics artists and hosted in the local exhibition and events hall - the renovated premises of a former oil-press and a prime example of industrial architecture in the beginning of the 20th century.

Activities

Mandamados is set amidst a landscape of farm holdings and olive groves - the surrounding natural wealth is majestic to gaze at and swarming with wildlife. The village itself is traditional with quaint houses, cobblestoned alleys and a central square crowned by the church of Saint Basil (circa 1750). Have a stroll in the village and pay a visit to the local events hall, which also operates as a museum. You can learn about the different stages in the production of olive oil here, and the equipment on display was once constructed in Smyrna and used in the olive-press industry of yesterday.

Nearby Attractions

A tour of the municipality’s smaller settlements is recommended if you’re keen to enjoy a traditional meal in Kapi, gaze at the old neoclassical mansions of Kleio or admire the bridge at Pelopi.

The beaches at Kalostasi, Lagada and Agios Stephanos are the best in the area. Nature lovers will be interested to visit Tokmakia, a cluster of volcanic islands opposite Mandamados and accessible only by boat.

  • Adres: Mandamados Lesvos
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