Kalloni lies precisely in the centre of Lesvos. It is endowed by the nature, since it is embraced by the gulfs waters, supplied by the rich plain of 100sq. km, where six rivers flow through it and always provide product sufficiency due to the underground and spring waters fertilizing its vineyards and gardens, and guarded by the historic monasteries. It was always the crossroad, from where the main axes passed which have not changed much from ancient times. In the last decade, this large village has presented great development in the field of trade and constitutes the seat of the municipality that comprises the settlements of: Agra, Anemotia, Dafia, skala, kerami, parakoila, papiana. Kalloni: where culture and nature meet.
Traditions and customs
The Kalloni, place gifted with natural beauty is tied with legends and traditions lost in the mists of time, but which are still alive in the daily life of residents. The many fests, heap praise on the birth of life, the harvest, the beauty of mother nature, the joy of waiting for the new give to Kalloniates and the visitors the opportunity to express their emotions and to forget the difficulties.
The old Parasigion Monastery
To the west of Papiana (whose name may be derived from a phrase meaning by the sea) are the ruins of the old Parasigion Monastery, where in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there was a school for copyists and calligraphers. There is a ruined church of St George Parasigion, associated with the mira¬cle of the youth released from the fortresses of Crete: according to tradition, the youth had been abducted by Saracens and taken to Crete in slavery, but exactly a year later the saint, on his feast day, worked the miracle and freed the youth in response to the prayers of his parents, who throughout the awful experience had never lost their faith.
St Ignatios rock
Legends and miracles are also associated with the path from Leimonos Monastery to Myrsiniotissa Nunnery, in the north-west of the plain of Kalloni. The path, smothered in myrtles, mastic-trees, pine-trees, wild olives, oleanders and wild flowers, was a favourite walk with St Ignatios. One day, so the story goes, he was half-way back up the hill to the Monastery when a spring thunderstorm broke out. In order to protect his head and back, the saint leant against a large rock beside the path — and the stone, sensing the divine weight upon it, opened up so as to protect the holy man from the rain. Today, St Ignatios rock can still be seen, with the mark of his body on it.
The Agerania and Adonis
In a similar manner, an echo of the ancient festival called the Agerania has survived in the modern ‘feast of the souls’; in antiquity, as now, the dead are honoured with offerings of flowers and food. The Adonis of antiquity is to be found, in almost magical disguise, in the divine passion of the services to mark Holy Week, especially on the Thursday of that week and on Good Friday. The traveller Colnaghi watched the Thursday service (the Pedilavium) in the precinct of the Cathedral church of St John at Kalloni in 1854, and he has left a striking descri¬ption of it. The smell of the incense mixed with the scents of freshly-cut branches and the roses decorating the platform set up for the ceremony, he recalls, and the coloured ribbons hanging from the candles and valuable lamps blended with the heavy robes worn by the Bishop in his reenactment of the passion of Christ.
Byzantine and Gatelousoi
Under Byzantium, Kalloni was one of the wealthiest parts of the Empire, and grew to become an important cultural and commer¬cial centre. The town stood on the hill called Palaiokastro, to the north-east of modern Kalloni, which was then called Achyronas. tn 1333, Domenico Katantas, the freebooter prince of Phocaea, laving unsuccessfully attacked the fortresses of Molyvos and iresos, turned his attention to Mytilene and Kalloni, the latter )f which he succeeded in conquering from the five ships with which he sailed up the Gulf. Byzantine Emperor Andronicus III etaliated by dispatching the Imperial fleet: 84 vessels underAlexios Philanthropinos, who recaptured Kalloni and drove Katanias from the Gulf.
Kalloni continued to prosper under the Gattelusi princes who ruled Lesbos from 1355 to 1462. The Gattelusi relied heavily on local people in the task of administering the island and its fina¬nces, and did not resort to the colonialist approach common among the other princelings of the Greek lands. The outcome of their style of administration was the formation of the first urban centres of the modern era, those of Mytilene and Kalloni.