Cats from Skala Sykaminia {Lesbos} – Traveling Cats On Pets And Tricks

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Skala Sykaminia

The little port village of Sykaminia is one of the most popular destinations on the Greek island of Lesbos, and for good reason. It is crowded with colorful fishing boats and a small boardwalk lined with waterfront restaurants and tavernas. 

Skala Sykaminia fishing boats

Skala Sykaminia port

The first thing you will notice in Skala Sykaminia are the large number of community cats. 

From the moment you get out of the car or boat, you will see them patiently waiting for the fishermen to share their catch, or trying out their luck at the restaurants, attempting to snatch some fish from unsuspecting tourists.

Skala Sykaminia restaurants
cat stealing food

In addition to the cats, Skala Sykaminia’s highlight is the characteristic Church Panagia Gorgona (also called the Mermaid Madonna Church), situated on a large rock over the sea, looking out over the port, its fishing boats, and beyond to the coast of Turkey.

Church Panagia GorgonaSkala Sykaminia church

Sykaminia is also known to be the birthplace of the famous Greek writer Stratis Myrivilis, a three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature. 

Skala Sykaminia black cat
Myrivilis’ best-known work, the 1949 novel The Mermaid Madonna, was named after the little whitewashed chapel and takes place in Skala Sykaminia. 
The village and its church owe much of their tourist fame to this book, which recounts how the Turks torched the coastal city of Smyrna (part of what is now the Turkish city of Izmir) in 1922 and how refugees arrived at the port of Sykaminia. 
Skala Sykaminia ginger cat
However, the most striking story in The Mermaid Madonna is that of a green-eyed girl who was found in a fishing boat, and who, according to local legend, was the daughter of a mermaid. 

Elsewhere in the book, Myrivilis describes how villagers began to worship a mural that a sea captain painted inside the church, depicting the Virgin Mary with a mermaid’s tale. The painting disappeared from the church decades ago, if it even existed in the first place.

Since Myrivilis is famous for his descriptions of Sykaminia and the beauty of the island of Lesbos in general, reading his novel would be the perfect beach read prior to visiting the skala.
Skala Sykaminia taverna

Skala Sykaminia tavernas

Skala Sykaminia cats

The village can be “easily” reached by car (preferably a Jeep) by directly following a bumpy dirt road along the coastline, which goes from Efalou’s hot springs to Skala Sykaminia. The road is only a few kilometers long, but the trip will take about half an hour because of the many pits and bumps along the way.

If this sounds like too much of an adventure, boat excursions from Molyvos or Petra to Skala Sykaminia are also an option.

Skala Sykaminia cats

Skala Sykaminia fishing village

Skala Sykaminia Lesbos

To this day, Skala Sykaminia is still the village of the mermaid, who works her charms to seduce tourists into visiting the port. 

The mermaid has certainly worked her magic on us. 

Or is it the cats of Sykaminia that are gently trying to lure us back?

stephan cat

Stephan cats

Text and photos by Vanessa Morgan

Photos 5, 16 and 17 by Stephan Jankovic

Lesbos Skala Sykaminia

island cats

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