The Footpath of Lygeri

This footpath was used by travellers making the journey from Anavatos and Avgonima to the sheep pens on the mountain and the villages of Mt Pelinaion and Amani.
The footpath has been associated with legends and myths since medieval times, back when piracy was an existential issue for the Aegean islands.
One such legend concerns precisely such a pirate raid. It’s said that the pirates ambushed the inhabitants of Anavatos and kidnapped Lygeri, the village beauty, with the intent of offering her up as a slave to their captain, who was anchored at Elida.
As a last-ditch effort to escape the pirates on the way to Elida, Lygeri grabbed hold of a large rock and held onto it so tightly that the pirates couldn’t budge her. They ultimately beheaded her and presented her severed head to their captain. But so infuriated was he that his men had murdered such a beauty that he ordered them all put to death.
This folk narrative, replete with heroism and tragedy, that was passed down through the ages was a way of describing in the simplest of terms a truly dangerous and fraught time in history. The myth of Lygeri is associated with the Old Village of Anavatos, the one that pre-dated the fortified medieval settlement.
In fact, hidden in the narrative are a couple of tidbits about the initial settlement. For example, the pirates disembarked from their ship at Elida beach. That’s where they started their raid and from where they approached and pillaged the Old Village of Anavatos. This initial settlement was located on a small plateau north-east of the current village, sprawled around the small church of the Taxiarch Michael which visitors can still explore today.

Elida Stream
This path is part of the Anavatos – Elida Stream – Agios Isidoros route. The Elida Stream path is striking and well worth a visit. Tall pine trees cast ample shade on the path that follows the bed of this seasonal stream. Hikers on the route will encounter small wells with water, lichen-covered rocks and even wild mushrooms. Traversing the path, you can still discern signs of the vibrant agricultural and pastoral production of ages past. These include dry-stone structures and shelters, sheep pens as well as an impressive stone threshing floor. Interspersed among these are the remains of larger huts, the so-called “mitata”.

Hikers on the picturesque route through the lush woodland environment will come across a unique circular stone formation. It’s low-lying, barely half a metre from the ground. Upon first glance, you’d be forgiven for being unsure whether it’s a natural or a man-made structure. But on closer inspection, the human factor is made clear by the care with which each stone has been placed. Far from being haphazardly tossed together, this carefully built structure appears to have served a purpose in times past. But what purpose, exactly?
The word “mitato” is frequently encountered both in local toponyms and in the literary output of authors. Mitata were impromptu dwellings built atop stone foundations, often far from the nearest settlement and meant to provide shelter for brief stretches. They were used extensively by farmers and shepherds in the 19th and early 20th centuries. For pre-industrial agricultural populations, these structures provided both shelter for their livestock and a place to store their tools. But other accounts also relate that farmers and shepherds themselves would spend time in these structures. In fact, entire families lived in them when agricultural work, such as the olive harvest, required prolonged presence out in the fields. The word “mitato” is widely used on Chios and Lesvos to describe these small and makeshift but sturdy structures that were so vital to the livelihood of the local agricultural population in times past.

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