Petrified Forest

Remains of fossil plants are found in many locations on the western part of Lesvos at the boundaries of the municipality of Eressos and the communities of Antissa and Sigri. They cover an area of about 37.50 acres and form the famous, in Greece and abroad, “Petrified Forest of Lesvos”.

The Greek government recognized the exceptional paleontological and geomorphological value of this unique natural creation and issued a special Presidential Decree (443/1985) in order to protect the petrified forest and ensure its proper management. By this Act, five terrestrial and marine areas, where fossil accumulations are found, as well as all the isolated fossils located within the area of 37.50 acres, were declared Protected Natural Monument.

 

The significance of the Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest is considered by both Greek and foreign scientists as a unique natural geological monument which offers rare scientific information such as:

It represents a complete, autochthonous forest ecosystem. This can be inferred from the high proportion of upright petrified tree trunks with well preserved roots in the fossilized soil.

The fossilized forest of Lesvos was developed during the time period of the end of the Upper Oligocene to Lower – Middle Miocene (ca. 20-15 million years before present), in the so-called Cenophytic Era or Tertiary, in contrast to most of the well known fossilized forests on Earth, which were developed in earlier geological periods.
During this geological time period the flora was fully evolved. According to recent scientific data, the composition of the fossil flora is characterized by the high proportion of angiosperms (flowering plants) and gymnosperm (conifers) and the low proportion of Pteridophytes (ferns).

The silicified tree trunks and their organs are very well preserved especially in wood. Additionally fossilized leaves, cones and seeds can provide the raw data for important scientific studies. The Petrified Forest, therefore, can be a centre for paleontological and other scientific research in Europe.


The development of the fossilized forest

The recent flora and vegetation of the Earth is the result of a lengthy plant evolutionary process which lasted millions of years. This process is documented by various fossil plants found in rocks formed in previous geological periods. The fossil plants are remains of plants which lived before present and were buried in sediments. They appear as fossilized leaves, tree trunks or wood, seeds or pollen.

The fossilized forest of Lesvos was preserved due to favourable fossilization conditions from a forest which existed on the north- west part of the islands 20-15 million years ago.

The formation of the petrified forest is directly related to the volcanic activity in the greater area of Lesvos, where there were active volcanoes. During periods of intense volcanic activity lava, pyroclastic materials and volcanic ash were spurred from the craters and covered the vegetation of the area. Along with the volcanic activity, hot solutions of silicon dioxide, penetrated and impregnated the volcanic rocks which covered the tree trunks. Thus, the major fossilization process started, i.e., the exchange of the organic plant molecules with in organic materials from the surrounding environment. The result of this process is the formation of the fossil tree trunks.

In the case of the petrified forest the fossilization was perfect. Therefore the morphological characteristics of the tree trunks such as the annual rings, barkers, as well as the internal structure of the wood, are all preserved in excellent condition.

From the microscopic analysis of the internal structure, the genus or the species to which the fossil wood belongs, can be determined. In addition, the erect tree trunks, with their roots and branches are evidence that the fossilization took place in situ (the fossils have an autochthonous origin), than means, they have grew where you find them today.

Major exposures of the fossilized forest are located in the districts of Sigri, Megalonissi (also called Nisiopi), Palia Alhonia and the greater area of Antissa and Eressos. Isolated exposures exist in the districts of Polichnitos, Rougada, Molyvos, Akrasi, Plomari, etc.

 

It is strictly forbidden for visitors to pick up or remove any piece of fossilized wood, as well as to excavate damage or change in any way the geomorphology of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos Natural Monument. Violation is punished with up to six months in jail, according to the Greek law.

Nissiopi Petrified Forest Park

The Nissiopi islet, on the western side of the island of Lesvos, is a highly valuable part of the Petrified Forest of Lesvos with regard to its environmental and eductional significance. The Marine Petrified Forest Park on the Nissiopi islet is the first marine fossil park in Greece, and thus a unique experience for visitors. Visitors to the park can tour both the terrestrial part of the island with its organized footpaths, as well as the depths of the sea area around Nissiopi in a special boat with a glass bottom.

The terrestrial part of the park hosts 41 impressive fossil sites containing petrified trunks of fruit trees and conifers, still standing upright in their natural growing positions or lying down, having been deposited on site by flows of volcanic material.

One of the most outstanding excavation finds so far is an impressive giant sequoia tree trunk, discovered in its natural position and reaching a total length of 17.20 meters and a diamater at the base of 1.70 meters. Also fascinatingare the fossil sites with petrified logs lodged in different rock horizons.

Due to the coastal erosion of rocks in the area, visitors can observe various volcanic and tectonic geosites as well as coastal landforms exisiting in Nissiopi's coastal zone.

The dozens of faults visible on the islet's surface and on its steep coastline attest to the intense east-west tectonic fault activity in the region in the recent geological past, which resulted in the separation of the islet from the rest of Lesvos.

The Nissiopi Park hosts a rich flora and fauna with recordings of 62 species of birds, 3 species of mammals, 3 species of reptiles, insects from about ten different classes and 37 families, spiders of 8 families and other invertebrates. Among the animals worth noting is the presence of birds such as the Falcon, the Ruddy Shelduck, Eurasian Stone-Curlew, Lesser Kestrel and a great colony of common gulls (Herring gull).

The abundant benthic flora and fauna is characterized by the dominance of Posidonia seagrass beds, and the presence of important types of bio-communities like coral and "forests" of the Cystoseirabrown algae.


Transportation to the Nissiopi Marine Park is available from the port of Sigri in a special glass bottomed boat after making a booking with the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest. Phone: +30 225 30 54434.

Hot springs

Hot springs in Eftalou. They are deemed particularly curative for those suffering from arthritis, rheumatism, lumbago, neuralgia, gynaecological problems and skin infections. They are listed among the rare hot springs all over Greece where mixed (male and female) baths are permitted.
Temperature: 46°C. Radioactivity: 14,7 units.


Hot springs at Gera Bay. These thermal springs located within a short distance of Mitilini are ideally suited for anyone suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, gynaecological problems, chronic kidney disease or digestive system disease. The water is being poured into the two distinct pools (one female and one masculine pool) from marble spouts creating a sort of natural water massage. Temperature: 40°C. Radioactivity: 1,8 units.


Hot springs in Thermi. These iron-rich thermal springs are highly recommended for patients with rheumatism, gynaecological problems, skin infections and circulatory system diseases. The facilities include 11 personal baths. The water comes directly from the nearby hill of Profitis Ilias through an underground pipe. Then it is poured to the four pools in order to cool. 
Temperature: 47,2°C. Radioactivity: 0,6 units.


Hot springs in Polichnitos. The springs are listed among the hottest springs of Europe and represent a vast geothermic field comprising in total 16 sources. These sources containing chloride and sodium ions in high concentrations and with very high water temperature are thought to be particularly beneficial to people suffering from rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago, gynaecological problems and skin infections. The water temperature of the source from which the water is being poured into the two pools is 60°C. Apart from the pools there are showers with cold water and a special area reserved to relaxation and massage after the bath. Also personal baths are available.
Temperature: 42°C. Radioactivity: 1,6 – 6 units


Hot springs in Lisvori. These springs are recommended for people suffering from rheumatism, skin infections, lumbago, gynaecological problem and periodontium disease. There are two pools: the first one was built during the Turkish domination and the second one in 1959.
Temperature: up to 70°C. Radioactivity: 2,4 units.

The trekking trails of Mount Olympos

Mount Olympos (968 m) is the highest amongst the mountains which create a geophysical bas-relief between the two gulfs of Lesvos. It is characterized by clean-cut furrowing, with deep ravines and steep hills. It is covered with olive and chestnut groves, and “tracheia” pine forests, while the cone of its peak looms up bare, massive and rocky. Great botanical interest is attributed to Olympos, due to the presence of indigenous species, as well as other significant and rare toGreece and Europe plant species, while the pine forests and the chestnut grove (the largest on a Greek island) are in good ecological condition. For the above reasons, the area has been placed in the NATURA 2000 network, as a protected area. Tree-shaped holm-oaks in combination with other deciduous species of bushes thrive on higher sides of the mountain.

All year round all the massif of Olympos is ideal hiking ground, with pleasant tracks, the majority of which are cobbled footpaths, where visitors with various interests come and wander through the chestnut grove, the pine forest and the ravines, enjoying the warbling of the birds in the luxuriant vegetation and the mountain air.

By following the old foothpaths, which the Municipality of Agiasos has repaired and marked with signs, the hiker is led to the top “Phrophetis Elias” with a panoramic view of the island, cool areas with abundant waters (Karini, Agios Dimitrios), traditional villages (Asomatos) and well-looked-after chapels. Recognizing the great aesthetic and architectural worth of the historic cobbled trails, the Municipality has begun an attempt to remodel them, with ulterior aim the promotion of Agiasos as a centre for winter escapes and trekking-naturalist outings.

Waterfalls

  • Pesas waterfalls near Achladeri
  • Man’Katsa waterfalls near Pedi.
  • Krinelos waterfalls near Eressos
  • Waterfall at the Klapados route 
  • Waterfall near Parakila
  • Waterfall near Pterounda/Chidera

Klapados route near Lafionas

The abandoned mountain village of Klapados where the last victorious battles of Greek troops against the Turks took place in December 1912 for the Liberation of the island. Now it's an ecological walking path and used for jeep safaris.

Gulf of Kalloni / Salt plains

Main ecotourist attraction of the island. It's renowned for its fine fish - the sardines are worldwide known. There are also rare birds to find and have been included in the ecological protection network "Natura 2000".

The islets of Petra

The islets of Petra

  • Agios Georgios or rabbit island with the chapel of Agios Georgios.
  • Mikro nisi on which foundations of a building, a pedestal, a grave and medieval tiles can be seen.
  • Myrmingi or plakes
  • Glaronisi.

On all the islets the geological base is volcanic, with lava and pyroclastic interstratification. The islets are now an observation centre for ecologists

Agioi Anargyroi

This is a small valley with a river. The nature reserve has been included to the ecological protection network "Natura 2000".

Others

Parakila: orangeries

Chidera: wineries

Agios Dimitrios: Springs of Tsigos

Agiasos: Chestnut tree wood