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Ypsilou Monastery, Lesbos

The Ypsilou Monastery bell.

The Ypsilou Monastery bell.

Once there were 3000 steps up to the Ypsilou Monastery that perches on the top of a peak in Western Lesbos. Now there is a narrow road that makes access to the stunning views and the monastery relatively easy.

And it is worth the trip to this ancient place. The monastery was originally built in 1101. The present church within the monastery compound is not so old, it was constructed in 1967 as a replacement for one that was destroyed by fire in 1834.

The monastery is a short distance from the town of Antissa on the way to the small coastal village of Sigri.

You can't miss it. The peak on which it perches dominates the landscape. But don't be in too much of a hurry to get there as there are some pleasant country scenes on the way. An old stone shed in a field. A small roadside chapel. The donkey waiting for its master. Life in the inland of Lesbos has a strong link with age old traditions which are a powerful attraction to those of us who are not sure that modern ethics will provide all we need.

The road up to the monastery
circles around the peak, past the small military outpost to a car park just below the arched entrance. A newly constructed stone path leads to the door of the monastery courtyard. There are some trees full of spring blossum that are growing somehow up through the ancient flagstones. You look around and wonder at the determination of those who have maintained this site as a place of worship for nearly a thousand years - it must be a worthy task.

Inside the Ypsilou Monastery

Inside the monastery.

You can climb up to the bell tower and look out over the hills of Western Lesbos. The rocky fields have no trees. The sun beats down. There is little movement. Are we waiting for something to happen? Or has it already been and gone? Inside the monastery churchThe future will tell us, and while we wait, the pages of the well-thumbed holy text in the church below are turned again, and again.

The monastery has a museum of relics. Nearby is a small walled cemetery - a resting place for the past guardians of the peak.

Photos of the monastery and country scenes.


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