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Periphery: North Aegean
Prefecture: Lesbos

Municipality Agia Paraskevi

Agia Paraskevi is one of Lesbos' last remaining traditional villages. Lesbos is a prefecture of Greece, consisting of a number of islands in the Aegean Sea.

The village is named after the Church of Agia Paraskevi, which is found in a cave in one of the highest points of the town. The town cemetery is also located here. Presumingly built over an old pagan temple, there is a well in the cave, and drinking the water from this well has been said to have conferred Virgin Mary's protection. Agia Paraskevi is an old village that is becoming a powerful cultural and economic center for the island. The village is known for its old mansions, unique architecture and for its festivals.


Festivals

The curious Festival of the Bull of Agios Haralambos has been celebrated in the village since 1774. Every year, a bull is sacrificed for good fortune and is a major event for the entire island. The festival is linked to an old story: "During the period of Turkish occupation, a Turk stole a bull. Each time he tried to kill it, a bright light shone in his eyes, until eventually, he gave the bull back."

One of the parts of the festival is an afternoon of horseriding through the town, culminating in a number of bareback races of two competitors, hurtling up a dusty track towards the temple at the peak of the village. Although very exciting, oftentimes, the horses can be ill-tempered when they are spurred on by the riders' ear-nipping or singeing to make them rear up. Quite often, the riders' get kick out. Another major traditional celebration is "Clean Monday", celebrated on the first Monday of Lent. It is also a rich economic center with olive presses and animal husbandry.

The Village of Agia Paraskevi, Lesbos as seen from the Church of Agia Paraskevi

Village layout

The village contains many traditional houses that shows the Venetian and Roman occupation of the island and is a rare, non-commercialized, non-tourist village — locals sit at tavernas that line the main street and socialize. The people are quite friendly and get around on foot; however, the automobile has slowly started making an entrance into village life.

Near the village at Klopedi, are the remains of the ancient Aeolian temple of Napaios Apollo, while Messa, also nearby, boasts the ruins of a big Ionian temple (late 4th - early 3rd century BC), possibly dedicated to three deities, Zeus, Hera and Dionysos. A monument from a later date, the Early Christian basilica of St. George, restored by the noted mediaevalist, Professor A. Orlandos, may be seen at Halinados, not far away.

The school building of Agia Paraskevi is of neoclassical architecture of the early 20th century (1922-1930s) has a rectangular "U" ground-plan shape and shows a perfect symmetry at its openings. The formation of the school-yard area is also very significant. The construction of the school building, one of the most attractive on the island, was financed by revenues from the town’s oil-press, which today has been transformed into a multi-cultural center.

The Oil-Press of Agia Paraskevi is a complex of stone-built buildings that serves as a characteristic sample of exceptional industrial architecture of the early 20th century (1910) on the island. Initially, it had been operating as an industrial complex (oil-press and corn-mill) and later on, until 1967, it ran as a community business. In 1984, with the support of the Prefecture of Lesvos, it was restored and transformed into a cultural center. The central building was turned into a multi-cultural hall with a 400-seat capacity, the oil storehouses were converted to a folk art museum while the 11 olives’ storehouses were transformed into modern guest-houses.

In the last census in 2001 the village was stated to have 2268 residents.

Division of the municipality



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