There are many sightseeing in Lesvos dating from all historical periods. The most famous sightseeing are the Medieval Castles of Mytilene, Molyvos and Sigri that protected the island from enemies and pirates in the previous centuries.
Very interesting is also the Petrified Forest in Sigri, on the western side of the island. This forest was petrified about 15 to 20 million years ago due to volcanic activity and it is considered of rare geological value today.
In the ancient times, Lesvos was also famous for its thermal springs. Worth to visit in Lesvos are also the many monasteries in the inland, including the Monastery of Ipsilou, Limnionas and the Monastery of Agios Raphael, the protector of the island. This guide of Lesvos offers all the necessary information for your vacations on the island.
An ancient myth connects Lesvos to the the famous lyre-player and singer Orpheus, whose music was moving every living soul on earth. The young musician was lived in Thrace and it was killed by some evil deities called the Furies, who got infuriated by the fact that Orpheus managed to touch them by his music. They cut his body in pieces and threw the pieces in Evros River. The waves brought the head and lyre of Orpheus to Lesvos. In a sign of devotion, the locals placed the head in the Temple of Apollo. Archaeological excavations have revealed that Lesvos has been inhabited since the Neolithic times and during the Bronze Age a very advanced civilization had already expanded.
The history of Lesvos starts in 1507 BC when it was settled by the Pelasgians, followed by the Achaeans in 1393 BC and by the Aeolians around 1100 BC. During the 7th century BC, the island became a centre of artistic and philosophical achievement and a great maritime power. In the 6th century BC, Lesvos was conquered by the Persians. In 479 BC, it was captured by the Athenians and became a member of the Delian League. In 334 BC, the island became a part of the Macedonian Empire and, after the death of Alexander the Great, fell under the rule of the Ptolemies. In 88 BC, the Romans occupied Lesvos and made it part of the Roman Empire.
After the fall of the empire, Saracen and Latins successively occupied the island which finally became a part of Byzantium in 1261. In 1354, Lesvos fell under the rule of the Genoese which lasted until 1460, when they were replaced by the Ottomans. In this period, two strong castles were constructed on the island, theCastle of Mytilene and the Castle of Molyvos. Later, a castle in Sigri was also built. Despite the Turkish slavery, the inhabitants of Lesvos cultivated their faith and hope for freedom. The monasteries and churches were turned into intellectual and revolutionary centres and secret schools were founded.
The marks of the Turkish rule remain vivid till today in Lesvos, as there are many mosques there. In 1824, the islanders revolted against their oppressors but the revolution was drowned in blood. n the 8th of November 1912, the island of Lesvos was liberated by the admiral Koundouriotis and his fleet. The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, stated the union of the island with the rest of Greece.
Another important fact in the history of Lesvos was the year 1922, when the refugees of Asia Minor came to the island and gave a new economical and cultural flourishment to the local society. To honour the refugees, the authorities have created the statue of Asia Minor Mother in Mytilene. Lesvos was conquered for a last time by the Germans during World War II and was set free on the 10th of September 1944.
Museums - Archeological
Lesvos is inhabited since the prehistoric years and many Neolithic settlements have been found in the surrounded regions. During the Geometric era, the locals were mainly involved in agriculture but during the Byzantine years the island was greatly flourished as a trade center. Several building still stands in the heart of the city.
Due to its long recorded history, the island has several museums the most important being the Archaeological Museum. The exhibition consists of findings from the prehistoric to Roman times. Of unique interest is the Georgios Iakovidis Digital Museum in Chidira which is fully equipped with the painter's works. A great collection of Byzantine icons and ecclesiastical items can be found in the Byzantine Museum of Lesvos.
Levos is famous for its excellent ouzo, a local drink and visitors can enjoy a lovely tour at the Barbayannis Ouzo Museum of the distillery, in Agia Paraskevi. There you will see the production facilities and the traditional means that were used for the making of Greek ouzo. Mytilene is home to smaller museums like the Folklore Museum with various items from the traditional history of Lesvos. Equally interesting is the Fossil museum, at the entrance of the Petrified Forest and the Museum of Olive Oil production.
Vatera, Petra beach, Skala Eressou, Skala Kalonis, Agios Isidoros, Agios Stefanos, Anaxos, Anaxos Ampelia, Eftalou, Kagia, Kampos, Melinta, Molyvos beach, Mytilene beach, Nifidas, Plomari Amoudeli, Plomari beach, Sigri beach, Skala Mistegnon, Skala Polichnitou, Geras, Mithymna, Skala Sikamias
Religious Monasteries and Churches
Lesvos is renowned for the several Byzantine churches and pilgrimages, most of which gather a great number of people from all over Greece and the rest of the world. In the settlement of Thermi, in Karyes hill rises the monastery of Agios Raphael, the most famous monastery of Lesvos. The monastery was established in 1963 over the ruins of an ancient church. The saint is known for its healing powers and the monastery attracts and accommodates hundreds of pilgrims every year.
One of the island's attractions is the beautiful monastery complex of Taxiarches, in the village of Madamados, the saint protector of the island. The holy icon of the saint is considered quite unique and miraculous. A worth seeing monument is the church of Agios Ioannis Therapontas (Healer) standing near the pier. It is the largest structure of the town built in the early 18th century. One of the oldest churches of the town is the Byzantine church of Agioi Theodoroi, located at the edge of the ancient town. It hosts worth seeing icons and relics.
Among the most famous churches is the Metropolis Church of Agios Athanasios located at the centre of Mytilene. The 16th century religious site is one of the most remarkable examples of post-Byzantine architecture. It is the symbol of Mytilene. The 14th century of Panagia Tourloti should not be missed, one of the few surviving Byzantine monuments in Lesvos.
One of the monasteries that have played an important role in the religious and spiritual history of the island is the 16th century monastery of Limonos. It was built during the Byzantine years and today visitors can admire a remarkable collection that consists of icons, handmade objects, folklore relics and other religious treasures. The monastery's library is also of unique interest.
The Monastery of Ipsilou is an active monastery on the top of Odrymnos hill, in Andissa village. According to the tradition, the monastery belongs to the Byzantine period and after a long time of abandonment the monastery flourishes again but is destroyed by the fire. Other churches that spread throughout the island of Lesvos is Agios Stefanos, the early Christian Basilica of Saint Andrew and Agios Athanasios, the cathedral of Mytilene.