Cats from Ordymnos {Lesbos} – Traveling Cats On Pets And Tricks

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ouzo
This family of cats lives 634 meters above sea level, in the Monastery of Ypsilou (also known as Moni Ipsilou), on the western side of the Greek island of Lesbos. Their home is in every tourist guide, and they enjoy impressive views of the inland, stretching from the petrified forest to the seaside town of Sigri. 

Yet these cats live in their own peaceful world…

monastery kittens

The monastery is an oasis of greenery compared to its arid surroundings. It’s a tranquil corner of paradise where they can sleep in the sunshine and enjoy the quietness that is so typical of remote monasteries (at least outside of the tourist season; the site livens up in July and August due to the voices of tourists).

Ypsilou Monastery

Ypsilou Monastery

It is believed that the building was founded in the 7th century by a monk who fled from Syria. Unfortunately, only fragments of the original construction of the Byzantine era have survived to this day, and very little is known about its early history. 

Ypsilou Monastery cats

lesvos kittens

momma cat 

What we do know is that by the end of the Byzantine period, the monastery was abandoned and destroyed. In the 16th century, the building was restored, and for some time it flourished, after which it was consumed by fire and rebuilt again. 

lesbos kittens

kittens lesbos

magical kittens

It is not uncommon for religious sites to provide shelter for stray cats (also check out the Monastery of Panagia Tourliani on Mykonos, the Jumping Cat Monastery of Myanmar, and the Arkadi Monastery of Crete).

adopt a cat lesbos

lesbos adopt cat

The feline newborns of the Monastery of Ypsilou are probably amongst the luckiest of Lesbos since they live far away from any danger and have enough drinking water thanks to the fountain in the courtyard.

monastery Ypsilou

cat mom kitten

They would be even luckier if someone could give them a real home (My boyfriend and I seriously considered adopting one or more of the kittens, except that they were still too young to be transported let alone be taken away from their mom. We had even given them names: Ouzo, Mythos, Retisina… just like the Greek drinks.).

ouzo lesbos

sylvestre cat

If you want to meet the cats of Ypsilou yourself, you have to take the car and drive up the steep and narrow road toward the top of the dormant volcano Ordymnos, on which the monastery is built. 

By the way, the name “Moni Ipsilou” was assigned to the monastery in the 18th century due to its location (“ypsilo” means “tall” in Greek). 

cat photobomb

A visit to the Ypsilou Monastery and its kittens can easily be combined with a trip to the nearby Petrified Forest Geopark and the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest in Sigri.

adopt a cat Lesvos

adorable kittens

Will you be visiting the Monastery of Ypsilou on Lesbos island? Would you consider adopting Ouzo and his brothers and sisters?

ouzo the cat

Text and photos by Vanessa Morgan

lesbos cats

Ypsilou Monastery Lesvos Island

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