LESVOS - SETTLEMENTS & SIGHTS
Mytilene, the capital of the island, is characterised by the unique architecture of its mansions. Built at the end of the 19th century -beginning of the 20th century, they combine classical Greek architecture with elements of European architecture. Mansions with sun parlours, marble staircases, windows looking onto the East, and others playing with the winds, they bear baroque, neo-gothic, belle époque, renaissance and neoclassical features. On Mytilene’s seafront, renaissance style Agios Therapon Church stands out with its baroque dome, along with the Metropolis’ neo-gothic style bell tower, rising 33 meters tall, the former ‘Grand Bretagne’ Hotel, the Pillars, the Ottoman Bank, the Old Port Authority, the District building, the Old City Hall, and others.
In most of the villages of Lesvos’ countryside an austere architectural style has been preserved, featuring stone houses with tiled roofs. The amphitheatrical community of Molyvos is a typical example, with houses made of stone and wood, many of which date back to the 18th century. On the slopes of Mt. Olympus, the highest mountain on the island, lies Agiassos, a mountain village, the colour and style of which make visitors forget they are on an island. Visit it for a walk along its picturesque cobbled streets, pray at Panagia Church and take a close look at crafts by famous local potters and wood carvers. In Petra, make sure you visit the Mansion of Vareltzidena, a late 18th century edifice built in Lesvos lay architecture style during the later years of Ottoman rule.
Mytilene castle looms at the top of a pine covered hill near Mytilene harbour, and it is one of the greatest in the Mediterranean region. Its foundations were laid during Justinian’s period on the ruins of an even older fort. Molyvos’ trademark is its imposing Byzantine castle, crowning the entire hill and overlooking the community. It was erected during Byzantine times on the ruins of the extensive ancient walls, and was completed in the year 1373 by Genoan Francisco Gatelucco I. The castle of Sigrio is a small stone castle, built during Ottoman rule, a typical example of the Ottoman technique. It was built in the mid 18th century by the Vice Admiral of the Ottoman fleet, Suleiman Pasha, to protect the commercial harbour of the district against piracy.
In Therme one can visit the prehistoric settlement, which is approximately 5,000 years old. During the excavations 5 settlements from the early Bronze Age (2800 – 2400 BC) were discovered, and two more from the late Bronze Age (1600 – 1200 BC) were found, built on top of each other. On the northern side of Mytilene, in a pine covered district, lies the Ancient Theatre, one of the greatest in Greece, with a capacity of 15,000 seats! In Moria you can admire part of the arches supporting the Roman aqueduct. It was 26 kilometers long, carrying water from the springs of Mt. Olympus to the city of Mytilene. Near Agia Paraskevi lies the Ancient Temple of Clopedi and the Ancient Temple of the Mesa.
The Holy Monastery of Taxiarchis, the patron saint of the island, is located in Mantamado. There you will find the only relief icon of Archangel Michael found in in the Christian world. In the heart of Ayiassos, at the temple of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, one has the opportunity to see the unique icon of the Virgin holding the infant Jesus, as well as a significant collection of ecclesiastic manuscripts and utensils. On Karyes hill, above the town of Therme, lies the Holy Monastery of Saint Raphael, where the holy relics of saints Raphael, Nicolaos and Irene, who were martyred at the hands of the Ottomans, are kept.
Many of the old monasteries of Lesvos are still used to this day. Some have become destinations for pilgrims, while others continue with spiritual traditions from the distant past. Limon Monastery (Monastery of the Meadow), built in 1523, is an important spiritual centre with a museum and library, while a short distance away stands the Monastery of Panagia Myrsiniotissa. Take in the enchanting vistas afforded from Ypsilos Monastery in Sigrio district and Pithario Monastery in Eressos. A short distance outside Antissa lies Perivoli Monastery, while near Polichnito you will find the Monastery of Damandrio.
Source: North Aegean Region - https://www.pvaigaiou.gov.gr