Lesvos is one of the first choices of places to travel to for thousands of tourists. And there is a reason for that. The island combines the infinite blue sea, nature, history, a detailed religious background but more than anything, it is a home to culture, art, good food, hospitality, and endless amazing experiences. Mytilene is filled with museums and sights, archaeological and not, calling you to discover them as you explore. The museums vary; from the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest to the Art Museum dedicated to the painter Theofilos, the culture of the island never fails to please.
Ancient Theatre of Mytilene
The ancient theatre of Mytilene is one of the island’s most famous cultural sites. Built on the western edge of the ancient town, it dominates the hill of Agia Kiriaki. It is estimated to have been built in the first years of the Hellenistic period and it still preserves its original post-Roman structure.
It is considered to be one of the most amazing architectural works, as the theatre is built on top of a volcano rock, and yet has all the characteristics of an ancient Greek theatre. According to history, the stage was split into four spaces, which were separated by passageways.
The theatre can seat 18000 people, its diameter reaches 124.60 meters, while the diameter of the orchestra area is 25.12m.
The Castle of Mytilene
The Mytilene Castle decorates the north of the island, reigning over the green hills and the blue waters. The castle’s fortification was completed in three phases, the last one taking place back in the first half of the 16th century. The castle is well preserved and it happens to be one of the biggest and most important castles of the Mediterranean, taking up around 50 acres. It is divided into three parts: The Upper, the Middle and the Lower Castle.
An earthquake in 1384 was proven destructive for the castle and the whole town. The repairs were not finished up until 1403, while the last two Gattilusios were trying to do all necessary work in order to once again fortify the castle.
By the 19th century, the castle’s character had changed completely, as it was serving as a military base. This is proven by the existence of military quarters near the madrasa.
The Castle of Molyvos
The second most important and big castle on the island is the Molyvos Castle. Its original form, designed by the Genoese monarchs, is still preserved to this day. During, however, the Ottoman period, some repairs did alter its appearance and gave it its final form.
It is also known as the Castle of Mithimna, and it was erected in the opus isodomum way of masonry. The use of big, basalt stones in the structure is characteristic. The inside of the castle is shaped in various levels, while its outer architectural design truly stands out.
Every year, mainly in August, various cultural festivals take place, including the Molyvos International Music Festival, which fills the castle and the whole island with unique musical sounds. The aesthetics of the place fit perfectly with the festival that takes place every year, which locals and tourists love and support.
The Roman aqueduct of Moria
Ever since antiquity, the basic source for meeting Mytilene’s increased necessities for water was the Roman aqueduct. The aqueduct was the way to bring water over from the waters sources of Olympus to the east of the island, where the town of Mytilene was built. The Water Bridge in Moria has a length of 170 m, as well as the water pipe and a maximum saved height of 24.46 m. It is the most important part of the Roman aqueduct, and one of the leading monuments of the Lesvian land.
Musical events take place in the area, especially during the summer months, as the imposing space is perfectly combined with the musical sounds offered to the public.
Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest
Based in Sigri, in the center of the Petrified Forest, you will find the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest. The museum is a bridge connecting us to the past and the evolution of the Aegean Sea in the past 20.000.000 years.
In the museum there are permanent exhibitions related to nature. More specifically, there are exhibitions on the history of plant evolution on earth, various findings of the Petrified Forest, as well as on volcanoes and the geo-historical evolution of the Aegean. At the same time, the Museum conducts research, excavation programs and fossil conservation workshops.
Archaeological Museum of Mytilene
The Archaeological Museum of Mytilene is housed in two buildings: The old and the new one. In the first one, we see the history of the island play out, starting from the Final Neolithic Period all the way up to the Late Roman Empire. Its permanent exhibition, which was built in 1912, contains impressive artifacts that date back to the Bronze age. Clay utensils, stone, metal and bone tools, weapons, weaving weights and whorls are some of the objects that you will find in the Museum.
The new building, on the other hand, was completed in 1995. Sculptures of Lesvos, embossments, portraits, full-reliefs, exhibits that refer to Roman symposiums, as well as mosaic floors of Roman mansions decorate the building.
The main feature of the new building is the educational activities that are addressed to junior high and high school students, as well as other art exhibitions that are realized yearly.
Museums and must-visit places on the island:
The Stratis Eleftheriadis – Teriade Museum – Library is one of the most famous museums on the island. Counting 31 years of life, in it we can find the work of the famous and important artist Stratis Eleftheriadis, who understood the value of contemporary art and the importance of its dissemination.
For lovers of the drink that is the trademark of the island, the Museum of ouzo Barbayanni is a must-visit choice for every tourist and not. The 150-year-old family tradition of ouzo production unfolds through the coexistence of technology with history and tradition, offering a special tour of the distilleries in which the museum is located. At the same time, in the Greek distillery industry and the Ouzo Museum «The World of Ouzo» by Ouzo Plomari Isidoros Arvanitis Distillery, you can also learn about the history of ouzo, the tradition and the way it is made.
The Olive Industry of the island and the Olive Press – Vrana Museum, which is one of the oldest olive mills of Lesvos, offer for many years now, the experience and passion of the families who created them. Their work is quite large, counting hundreds of exports abroad.
Do not hesitate to add the below to your to-do list:
The Ecclesiastical Byzantine Museum of Mytilene is home to one of the most remarkable collections of the Byzantine culture. At the same time, the Mansion of Varelgidena, located in Petra, is one of the few mansions in Lesvos that has been preserved in its original form. You may also visit the Soap Museum in Plomari and the Digital Museum “Georgios Iakovidis”, the first digital art museum in Greece. Finally, the archaeological site of the sanctuary of Messos, located in the homonymous Valley, is one of the most important religious monuments of the region.