"That is where I want to live [...] on the bare rock of that picturesque fishing village, who knows, maybe forever...."
-Albert Camus on his visit to Sigri in 1959
SIGRI photo: Patroklos Chalios
The Sigri Arts Retreat will take place in the small fishing village of Sigri, located on the western edge of the island of Lesvos at what is known as "the end of the road." It is no wonder that it made such an impression on Albert Camus. Little has changed since then.
Sigri remains uncommercialized, and, with a year round population of about 400, it is as close to a traditional Greek village as you can get. In addition to the village beach, there are a number of beaches within walking distance. It is also home to the Petrified Forest Museum and geoparks.
After a 90km winding drive from the airport or port in Mytilini (the capital city of the island of Lesvos), you will arrive in the magical setting of Sigri. Its rugged landscape, pristine beaches, and pallette-inspiring sunsets make it the perfect place to connect fully with your creative self!
Built on the seaside, Sigri is surrounded by the islands of Nissiopi, Kavalouros, and Fanes. Sigri was first mentioned by Stravona (65 B.C.-23 A.D.). Its name is derived from the Latin word Seguro, meaning safe / reliable, as Sigri is a reliable, safe port, which is protected from the fierce winds by Nissiopi island, where it is believed Achilles fought during Greece’s campaign against the Trojans.
Sigri appears on old maps as “Porto Sigri”, “Segouro”, or “Sigrium.” In 1667, the pirate Georgio Maria Vitali invaded Sigri, but in the battle that ensued with the fleet of Captain Pasha, his ship was forced to surrender and he was killed.
During the period when the Gatelouzi family ruled the island, Sigri was protected by a fortress. In 1757, the Turks re-constructed the Sigri fortress, which became the base around which a community was built, forming what is the present-day village. The village had a steady water supply from the “Mana” spring of the Paleohorio (old village), which continues to be its water supply to this day. In 1861, the French Lighthouse Company erected the Nissiopi Lighthouse and for many years thereafter, Sigri served as a port for the Great European powers.
Following the Asia Minor Disaster in 1922, Sigri was inhabited by Greek refugees from Asia Minor. They built a hospitable, powerful community, whose sources of income included commercial shipping, fishing, farming, and livestock.
Sigri village beach
Sigri’s shorelines are alternating stretches of sandy beaches and cliffs sculpted from the wind and the sea. All the beaches, with their crystal-clear waters, are ideal for swimming. Water sports, such as windsurfing and kitesurfing, are also popular in the area.
The Petrified Forest
One of Sigri’s unique natural features is the Petrified Forest, located in and around what is today Sigri. Finds from excavations conducted on western Lesvos include rare petrified trunk sections, fossilized branches, roots, leaves, and fruits from the trees of the rich forests that covered this land 20 million years ago.
Today, there exist approximately 200 surface trunks, fossils of plants and animals, and a huge number of other fossils, buried under tons of volcanic tuff and conglomerate rocks. Many of these fossils are housed in the Petrified Forest Museum, which is located in Sigri (http://www.lesvosmuseum.gr). There are several other Geoparks located in the surrounding area. The island of Nissiopi has also been opened as a Geopark and boat trips to this can be arranged through the museum.