The history of Lesvos dates back to the early years of the first millennium B.C. Remnants of ancient temples, public baths, churches, mansions or castles witness the island’s cultural and historical course throughout the centuries that have been lost for ever. The poetic heritage left behind by Sapfo and Alcaeos, the lyre of Arion, the sayings of Theophrastus fill in a historical mosaic that is completed with Theophilos’ paintings and Elytis’ poems.
In the Mytilene district one can visit the Archaeological Museums of the city (old and new). In the first one, a neoclassic building of the beginning of the century, the visitor can admire statuettes, pieces of ceramic art and jewellery of the Prehistoric and Roman era. The new museum, a modern building in Kioski, hosts a permanent exhibition entitled “The history of Lesvos from the Hellenistic until the Roman Era” and contains mosaic floors, wall-paintings extracted by mansions, daily use objects and sculptures.Near St Theraponta the visitor can find the Byzantine Ecclesiastic Museum where a significant collection of icons and ecclesiastical objects awaits to be admired.
In Moria, a settlement near Mytilene, the visitor can admire the imposing stone arches of the Roman Mains – a great technological achievement of the first After Christ century – which was used to supply Mytilene with water emanating from AgiOn the head of Molyvos the castle overlooks the visitor’s eye. Built by the Byzantines, it was finally completed by the Genuates and is presently maintained in a good shape. The Archaeological Collection in Mithimna is housed in the old Municipality Hall and contains findings of the 4th B.C. and until the 6th A.C. centuries, deriving from the wider archaeological spectrum.
Sigri also has a small Castle that was built by the Turks in 1757 Eastern of Sigri lay the remnants of Ancient Antissa. The Temple of Mesa, an Aeolian worship centre where remnants of an ionic temple have been found, is open to the visitor just a few kilometres outside Kalloni. In the recent years the temple has been significantly restored and makes the visit to the site worthwhile. Near Agia Paraskevi the Paleochristian temple of Chalinados – the senior construction of the island – is also available to the visitor. Sank under the cove of the Kalloni Gulf, lies the ancient city of Pyrra.
There are many interesting monasteries to visit on the island. On a slope overgrown with olive trees in Thermi, Saint Raphael’s Monastery – one of the biggest pilgrimages of the island – awaits the visitor. Taxiarchis, a famous monastery made of stone in Mantamados, is closely connected to the island’s history, as well as for having an impasto icon of Taxiarchis Michael. On the foot of a mountain near Kalloni lies the monastery of Saint Ignatius (Leimonas) built in 1523. Its interior is imposing while a number of smaller churches are built inside its precinct. The monastery also houses an Ecclesiastic Art Museum and a Geology Museum. The Convent of Myrsiniotissa is set on a hill near Leimonas. Surrounded by platans in a peaceful setting in Batousa lies the Monastery of Perivoli, where the visitor can admire several interesting wall paintings. Platans, oaks and volcanic rocks embrace the Monastery of Pythari on the N.W. part of the island in Eressos. Built on the crown of Mount Ordymnos in 800 a. C., the Monastery of Ypselo with its wonderful view and unique ecclesiastic collection, stands between Antissa and Sigri. The Monastery of Damandrios, also containing remarkable wall paintings, near Polichnitos is cleverly camouflaged by a dense flora.
Other examples of interesting churches encountered in Lesvos are Panagia Trouloti, located in an area called Ano Pyrgoi in Thermi. Built in the 14th century using architectural parts of earlier ancient structures, it constitutes one of the earliest Christian settings existing on the island. Another important pilgrimage of the island is Panagia Sion in Agiasos. According to the tradition the icon hosted in the church was made by Evangelist Lukas and was transported to Agiasos from Jerusalem in 803. There is an ecclesiastic museum in the church’s courtyard. Panagia Glykofilousa in Petra owes its name to the 114 steps hewed on the rock on top of which lies the church. In Skala Sykamnias, Panagia Gorgona completes the picturesque harbour of the village. Either decorated with fretworks, temples made of stone or excellent hagiographies, every single church presents a great deal of interest to the visitor and is therefore worthwhile visiting.