Church of Panayia Glyckofiloussa
The post-Byzantine church of Panagia Glykophilousa also known as Panagia of Petra is one of the most important pilgrimages of Lesvos. It sits on the top of the rock at the center of Petra, at a height of 40 meters. It dominates the rock for centuries, built in the place where there was probably a small fortress. Due to its location, the fortress offered great protection due to the steep rock and only from the east side someone could climb, but also easily repel.
The architectural style of the church belongs to the Genuate period as it is proved by the existence of a blazon of Gateluses that was curved on a slab of the garden’s cobble paved floor. It is a three-aisled basilica and the interior is decorated with rare Byzantine icons and a wooden-carved diocesan throne of exceptional beauty as well as valuable utensils and votive offerings. Underneath the church there is a natural reservoir, in which rainwater is collected from the roof of the church.
It was completely renovated to its current form in 1840. In 1865 the church was looted by robbers and few of the precious sacred vessels were saved, such as the silver lining of the Icon of the Virgin, the silver Censer of 1667 and the Holy Grail of 1742.
It is one of the main attractions of Petra and numerous of Greeks and foreign tourists climb the 114 steps which are carved into the rock, to pray to Virgin Mary. The church celebrates on August, 15, attracting a large number of believers. There are also many who come to the church in the service of Good Friday and the Epitaph procession that follows. It offers an amazing view over the village of Petra, the Aegean Sea and the small rocky islets that lie right across the village.