Saint Raphael Monastery
For five hundred years the martyrdom of saints remained buried on the hill of Karies, the verdant hill of olive trees, were now the monastery stands. The Monastery of St. Raphael, Nicholas and Eirini, was founded in 1963, at this point it was a Byzantine monastery, but it was completely destroyed by Ottoman soldiers in 1463. In very few years since its inception, the monastery became one of the most important shrines of Orthodoxy, because of the unrelenting miraculous action of St. Raphael. Today the fraternity consists of more than forty nuns.
The Divine Providence wanted to reveal five centuries later, in the late 1950, when the Saints appeared to many residents of Thermi, revealed the history of the monastery and martyrdom and indicated the exact location of graves and the remains.
The three Saints martyred during the invasion of the Ottoman Turks, accompanied until the martyr’s death and other residents of Thermi on the occasion of a local revolt, which led to the fury of the invaders for revenge.
After the martyrdom of the Saints and complete destruction of the monastery in 1462, a small church remained in this region, the Virgin Mary, which was preserved by only a broken marble. Until the 1950s it had maintained a tradition of the locals, going up to the chapel 2 days after Easter and perform the Divine Liturgy.
In past times, the residents of Thermi maintained the hill with supernatural phenomenon which sometimes were faced with fear and sometimes in awe. Sometimes the place smells nice a lot, but often enough some saw a monk wandering the hill, sometimes with a sensor in his hand, and lost in a flash. The view of this mysterious monk was so frequent that the site was called “Monk”, the previous name was “Virgin Mary of Karia”.
In the 1950s, the founders sought permission to build a chapel in the same place, where the small church was. However during excavations, on the 3rd July, 1959, workers found a human skeleton that smelled nice, the stone head which was round as a pillow. The foundings revealed ruins of an early Christian basilica and sacred marbles mainly from the Byzantine era and a few pages of a Holy book manuscript was decorated, which by this time, when coming in air contact with it, they dissolved. The archaeological site was declared, thereby prohibiting excavation within one hundred meters.
At the same time residents of Thermi were eye-witnesses and hear-witnesses of huge events. Saint Raphael, whose bones were found in the tomb, St Nicholas and St Eirini appeared in front of a number of Christians, revealing their names and details of the life of action and evidence.
Based on the suggestions of the Saints, tombs and relics, and of Saint Olympia, who was testified in 1235, the jar, in which the Ottomans had burned St. Eirini, a handbook of the 14th century with the representation of Christ Pantocrator, Byzantine coins and the old monastery of holy water were found in an underground gallery at the same place where it is today.
The monastery was established officially by the Presidential Decree in 1963, just five hundred years after the martyrdom of the Saints. The inauguration took place on July 6th, 1969. On September 11th, 1970 the Ecumenical Patriarchate proclaimed the St. Raphael, the St. Nicholas, St. Irene and their “co-athletes”, setting the commemoration of the Easter Tuesday.
It was considered as appropriate during the construction of the monastery to incorporate the tombs of the saints in the church. The topography of the land created the following problem: because the saints were buried in a steep section of a hill, the tomb of Saint Raphael was taller than the graves of the others. They chose then the option to build two churches, one above the other. In the upper temple is the tomb of Saint Raphael; while the lower tombs (dedicated to Virgin Mary) are the tombs of Saint Nicholas, Saint Eirini and Vasilios, father of St Eirini. At the monastic complex there is also the newly built church of Saint Magdalene and the chapels of Saint Skepis of Theotokos (in a catacomb form), of St. Nektarios and Archangel Michael. The dependency of the Prophet Elias belongs to the monastery, at the top of the hill of Karies.
Holy Chapel of Panagia Trouloti
A short distance from Mytilene, at the village Pirgoi of Thermi, is one of the most important Byzantine monuments of Lesvos, the cruciform church of Panagia Troulloti. It was built in an area of 5000 thousand year old history. And in very short distance the archaeological site of Thermi can be found.
The church was probably a creation of the 14th century, it is the oldest Christian building which preserved almost unchanged from the Byzantine era on Lesvos. The walls are made of ancient architectural fixture, which interest the two marble reliefs in the southern wall of the vestibule, decorated with human figures and animal forms, perhaps originating from the near ancient temple of Thermia Artemis.
Inside the church a section of wall paintings is preserved, which date back by the inscription to the year 1650. The wooden temple goes back to the 18th century and is one of the finest examples of woodcarving on Lesvos.
Hot Springs of Thermi
12 kilometers from Mytilene you can find the hot springs of Thermi. A German chemist named Lantener, visited Lesvos in 1845. He said that the components contribute to the treatment of chronic rheumatism, arthritis and skin diseases.
The area around the hot springs is with wonderful natural beauties. The horizon of the sea is boundless and clear, there is rich fauna in a unique combination of mountains and the sea. The heavenly beach, especially at the summer nights, convinces visitors that this privileged corner is a heaven not only for patients but also for the paid or any intellectual, mental and physical fatigue. Both ancient vaulted tanks are behind the current spa, discerning the temporal history of the area. The hot springs of Thermi is an all year around resort attraction. The hot springs in conjunction with the excellent natural environment, calm location, lack of humidity and the tourist infrastructure is environmentally unique. The water analysis of the Thermi hot springs are:
Temperature 49.9 degrees Celsius