Mytilene (Greek: Μυτιλήνη Mytilini [mitiˈlini]) is a city
founded in the 11th century BC.
Mytilene is the capital and port of
the island of
Lesbos and also the capital of the
North Aegean Region.
The seat of the governor of the
North Aegean Region is Mytilene.
Mytilene is also one of 13 municipalities (counties) on the island of
Mytilene is built on the southeast edge of the island. It is
also the seat of a metropolitan bishop of the Orthodox church.
2 Geography and climate
5 Landmarks and architecture
6 Refugee camps
6.3 Kara Tepe
6.4 PIKPA Camp (Lesvos Solidarity)
9 Sporting teams
10 Famous Mytilenians
11 Twin cities
13 See also
15 External links
Mytilene (c. 640 - 568 BC), one of the Seven Sages of
Greece; woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle.
View of the port, with the dome of St.Therapon.
The church of St.Therapon at the port
As an ancient city, lying off the east coast,
Mytilene was initially
confined to a small island just offshore that later was joined to
Lesbos, creating a north and south harbor. According to the writings
of Homer, the island of
Lesbos has been an organized city since 1054
B.C. The early harbor of
Mytilene was united during ancient times with
a channel 700 meters long and 30 meters wide. The Roman writer Longus
speaks of white stone bridges linking the two sides. The Greek word
Εύριπο or Euripus is a commonly used term when referring to a
strait. The strait allowed ancient sail boats called Triremes, with 3
tiers of rowers or more. The boats that passed were ca. 6 meters wide
plus oars and had depth of 2 meters.
The areas of the city that were densely populated connected the two
bodies of land with marble bridges. They usually followed a curved
line. The strait begins at the old market called Apano Skala. It was
also close to Metropolis Street and ended at the Southern Harbor. One
could argue that the channel transversed what is now called Ermou
Street. Over time the strait began to collect silt and earth. There
was also human intervention for the protection of the Castle of
Mytilene. The strait eventually filled with earth.
Mytilene contested successfully with
Methymna in the north of the
island for the leadership of the island in the 7th century BC and
became the centre of the island’s prosperous eastern
hinterland. Her most famous citizens were the poets
Sappho and Alcaeus and the statesman
Pittacus (one of the Seven Sages
of ancient Greece). The city was famed for its great output of
electrum coins struck from the late 6th through mid-4th centuries
Mytilene revolted against
Athens in 428 BC but was overcome by
an Athenian expeditionary force. The Athenian public assembly voted to
massacre all the men of the city and to sell the women and children
into slavery but changed its mind the next day. A fast trireme sailed
the 186 nautical miles (344 km) in less than a day and brought
the decision to cancel the massacre.
Aristotle lived on
Mytilene for two years, 337-335 BC, with his friend
Theophrastus (a native of the island), after becoming
the tutor to Alexander, son of King Philip II of Macedon.
The Romans, among whom was a young Julius Caesar, successfully
Mytilene in 81 BC at the Siege of Mytilene. Although
Mytilene supported the losing side in most of the great wars of the
1st century BC, her statesmen succeeded in convincing Rome of her
support of the new ruler of the Mediterranean and the city flourished
in Roman times.
In AD 56, Luke the Evangelist,
Paul the Apostle
Paul the Apostle and their companions
stopped there briefly on the return trip of Paul's third missionary
journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from
Assos (about 50 km
(31 mi) away). From
Mytilene they continued towards
The novel Daphnis and Chloe, by Longus, is set in the country around
it and opens with a description of the city.
Scholar and historian Zacharias Rhetor, also known as Zacharias of
Mytilene was from
Mytilene and lived from 465 to around 536. He was
Mytilene and may have been a Chalcedonian Christian. He
either died and or was deposed around 536 and 553.
The city of
Mytilene was also home to 9th century Byzantine Saints who
were brothers, Saint George the Archbishop of Mytilene, Saint Symeon
Stylites of Lesbos, and Saint David the Monk. The Church of Saint
Mytilene venerates one of the three brothers.
Catching the eye of the Empress Zoe,
Constantine IX Monomachos
Constantine IX Monomachos was
Mytilene on the island of
Lesbos by her second husband,
Michael IV. The death of Michael IV and the overthrow of Michael V in
1042 led to Constantine being recalled from his place of exile and
appointed as a judge in Greece.
Mytilene had an established Jewish population since ancient
times. In 1170
Benjamin of Tudela
Benjamin of Tudela found ten small Jewish communities
on the island.
In the Middle Ages, it was part of the
Byzantine Empire and was
occupied for some time by the Seljuqs under
Tzachas in 1085. In 1198,
Republic of Venice
Republic of Venice obtained the right to commerce from the city's
In the 13th century, it was captured by the Emperor of Nicaea,
Theodore I Laskaris. In 1335, the Byzantines, with the help of Ottoman
forces, reconquered the island, then property of the Genoese nobleman
Domenico Cattaneo. In 1354, emperor
John V Palaiologos
John V Palaiologos gave it to the
Genoese adventurer Francesco Gattilusio, who married the emperor's
sister, Maria. They renovated the fortress in 1373, and it remained in
Genoese hands until 1462, when it was captured by the Ottoman sultan
Geography and climate
Panorama of Mytilene.
Mytilene is located in the southeastern part of the island, north and
east of the Bay of Gera. It has a land area of 107.46 square
kilometres (41.49 sq mi) and a population of 36,196
inhabitants (2001). With a population density of 336.8/km² it is by
far the most densely populated municipal unit in Lesbos. The next
largest towns in the municipal unit are Vareiá (pop. 1,254), Pámfila
(1,247), Mória (1,207), and Loutrá (1,118). The Greek National Road
Mytilene with Kalloni. Farmlands surround Mytilene, the
mountains cover the west and to the north. The airport is located a
few kilometres south of town. Since the 2011 local government reform,
the cities and towns within the municipality changed.
The province of
Mytilene (Greek: Επαρχία Μυτιλήνης)
was one of the provinces of the
Lesbos Prefecture. Its territory
corresponded with that of the current municipal units Mytilene,
Agiasos, Evergetoulas, Gera, Loutropoli Thermis,
Polichnitos. It was abolished in 2006.
Climate data for Mytilene
Record high °C (°F)
Average high °C (°F)
Daily mean °C (°F)
Average low °C (°F)
Record low °C (°F)
Average precipitation mm (inches)
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)
Source #1: Hellenic National Meteorological Service
Source #2: NOAA
A bottle of ouzo
Mytilene has a port with ferries to the nearby islands of
Ayvalık and at times
Dikili in Turkey. The port also serves
the mainland cities of Piraeus,
Athens and Thessaloniki. One ship,
named during the 2001
IAAF games in
Edmonton Aeolos Kenteris, after
Kostas Kenteris, used to serve this city (his hometown) with 6-hour
Athens and Thessaloniki. The main port serving
the Greek mainland is Piraeus.
The city produces ouzo. There are more than 15 commercial producers on
The city exports sardines harvested from the Bay of
Kalloni and olive
oil and woodwork.
Landmarks and architecture
Old mansion, one of the many in the town
The town of
Mytilene has a large number of neoclassical buildings,
public and private houses. Some of them are the building of the Lesbos
Prefecture, the old City Hall, the Experimental Lyceum and various
mansions and hotels all over the town.
The Baroque church of Saint Therapon dominates at the port with its
Ancient Theatre of Mytilene
Archaeological Museum of Mytilene
Castle of Mytilene
Church of Saint Symeon, Mytilene
Catholic Church of Theotokos, where part of the relics of Saint
Valentine are kept
Çarşı Hamam ("Market Bath")
Ecclesiastical Byzantine Museum of Mytilene
Folk Art Museum of Mytilene
Monastery of Agios Raphael
Museum of Costume and Embroidery of Lesvos
Statue of Liberty (Mytilene)
Yeni Cami, Mytilene
In 2015 the island of
Lesbos began to draw international attention
because of what has been popularized as the European refugee crisis.
Facing economic crises, oppressive governments, violence, and war,
thousands of people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria,
Somalia, and other countries have decided to leave their homes and
seek safety in Europe. As the capital of Lesbos, the city of Mytilene
has become a primary entry point for refugees and migrants who seek to
Greece to resettle elsewhere in Europe.
A refugee's journey to
Mytilene involves a series of strategic steps.
Individuals often travel by foot, car, bus, and boat to reach Turkey
before taking boats across the
Aegean Sea to Lesbos.
as a doorway to the Greek mainland and thus to the European countries,
such as Holland, Sweden, and Italy, in which refugees often desire to
settle. In the past two years, over half a million people have arrived
in Lesbos. Some have drowned on the journey, because of the
dangerous nature of traveling by boat without lifejackets and also
because they have been sold faulty lifejackets by smugglers.
Others have suffered from hypothermia.
The number of individuals coming through
Lesbos has dwindled since the
signing of the controversial EU-
Turkey deal which restricted the
number of refugees that could legally resettle in Europe. The deal
stated that persons arriving in
Greece by first traveling through
Turkey would, after March 20, 2016, be deported from
Greece and sent
Greece did not confer them asylum status.
As of July 2017, seventy to eighty refugees are still arriving in
Greece daily despite the deal and "many of them on Lesbos", according
to Daniel Esdras, the chief of the International Organization for
Formerly a prison, Moria is a refugee camp located in a village near
Mytilene. Enclosed with barbed wire and a chain-link fence, the camp
serves as a European Union receiving center or “hotspot”. When
refugees first arrive in
Mytilene seeking asylum, they must be
screened in Moria and cannot be placed into any of the other nearby
camps until they are processed there. The camp was built to
accommodate around 700 people, though over the past two years,[when?]
thousands of people have often arrived in a single month. Because of
extreme overcrowding, the camp authorities established makeshift
living quarters in an olive grove behind the camp. Human Rights Watch
has termed the camp as "unfit for animals". In October 2017,
Afghan refugees protested the Moria's poor conditions and the violence
prevalent in the camp.
Kara Tepe is a camp in Mytilene, residing on a hill in the northern
part of the town. The camp, which was at one time a driving school,
has been transformed into a living space for around 700 refugees
classified as vulnerable.
PIKPA Camp (Lesvos Solidarity)
PIKPA camp or Lesvos Solidarity, once a children’s holiday camp,
aims to support the most vulnerable refugees who pass through
Mytilene: families with children, the disabled, women who are
pregnant, and the injured. The camp focuses on humanitarian aid and on
providing for the various needs of refugees, including food, medical
help, clothing, and psychological support.
The Roman aqueduct at Moria
Archaeological investigations at
Mytilene began in the late 19th
century when Robert Koldewey (later excavator of Babylon) and a group
of German colleagues spent many months on the island preparing plans
of the visible remains at various ancient sites like Mytilene.
Significant excavations, however, do not seem to have started until
after the First World War when in the mid-1920s Evangelides uncovered
much of the famous theatre (according to Plutarch it was the
inspiration for Pompey's theatre in Rome in 55 BC, the first permanent
stone theatre in that city) on the hill on the western side of town.
Subsequent work in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s by various members of
Archaeological Service revealed more of the theatre, including a
Roman conversion to a gladiatorial arena. Salvage excavations carried
out by the
Archaeological Service in many areas of the city have
revealed sites going back to the Early Bronze Age although most have
been much later (
Hellenistic and Roman). Particularly significant is a
large stoa over a hundred metres long recently dug on the North
Harbour of the city. It is clear from various remains in different
parts of the city that
Mytilene was indeed laid out on a grid plan as
the Roman architect Vitruvius had written.
Remains of the ancient theatre
View of the Castle of Mytilene
The Liberty Statue of Mytilene.
Archaeological excavations carried out between 1984 and 1994 in the
Castle of Mytilene
Castle of Mytilene by the
University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia and
directed by Caroline and Hector Williams revealed a previously unknown
Demeter and Kore of late classical/
Hellenistic date and
the burial chapel of the Gattelusi, the medieval Genoese family that
ruled the northern Aegean from the mid-14th to mid-15th centuries of
our era. The
Demeter sanctuary included five altars for sacrifices to
Demeter and Kore and later also to Cybele, the great mother goddess of
Anatolia. Among the discoveries were thousands of oil lamps,
terracotta figurines, loom weights and other dedications to the
goddesses. Numerous animal bones, especially of piglets, also
appeared. The Chapel of St. John served as the church of the castle
and as a burial place for the
Gattelusi family and its dependents.
Although conversion to a mosque after the Ottoman capture of the city
in 1462 resulted in the destruction of many graves some remained. The
great earthquake of February 1867 damaged the building beyond repair
and it was demolished; the Turks built a new mosque over the ruins to
replace it later in the 19th century.
Other excavations done jointly with the K' Ephoreia of Prehistoric and
Classical Antiquities near the North Harbour of the city uncovered a
multiperiod site with remains extending from a late Ottoman cemetery
(including a "vampire" burial, a middle aged man with 20 cm
(8 in) spikes through his neck, middle and ankles) to a
substantial Roman building constructed around a colonnaded courtyard
(probably a tavern/brothel in its final phase in the mid-4th century
CE) to remains of
Hellenistic structures and debris from different
Hellenistic manufacturing processes (pottery, figurines, cloth making
and dyeing, bronze and iron working) to archaic and classical levels
with rich collections of
Aeolic grey wares. A section of the late
classical city wall runs across the site which was close to the
channel that divided the mainland from the off shore island part of
the city. Considerable remains of the two moles that protected the
large North Harbour of the city are still visible just below or just
breaking the surface of the sea; it functioned as the commercial
harbour of the ancient city although today it is a quiet place where a
few small fishing boats are moored.
The city has two excellent archaeological museums, one by the south
harbour in an old mansion and the other two hundred metres further
north in a large new purpose built structure. The former contains the
rich Bronze Age remains from Thermi, a site north of
Mytilene dug by
the British in the 1930s as well as extensive pottery and figurine
displays; the former coach house accommodates ancient inscriptions,
architectural pieces, and coins. The latter museum is especially rich
in mosaics and sculpture, including the famous late Roman mosaic floor
from the "House of Menander" with scenes from plays by that Athenian
4th-century BC playwright. There are also mosaics and finds from other
Roman mansions excavated by the
Archaeological Service under the
direction of the archeologist Mme. Aglaia Archontidou-Argyri.
There are 15 primary schools in Mytilene, along with seven lyceums,
and eight gymnasiums. There are six university
schools with 3671 undergraduates, the largest in the University of the
Aegean. Here also is the Rector, the central administration of the
Foundation[clarification needed], the Central Library and the Research
Committee of Aegean University. The University of Aegean is housed in
privately owned buildings, in rented buildings located in the city
centre, and in modern buildings on University Hill.
Mytilene Municipal Stadium
Aiolikos, football club
Kalloni, football club
Alcaeus and Sappho, Attic red-figure calathus, c.470 BC,
Alcaeus (6th century BC), Greek poet.
Sappho, Ancient Greek Lyric Poet. Plato called her "wise" and "Tenth
Pittacus (c. 640-568 BC), one of the Seven Sages of Greece.
Hellanicus (mid-5th century BC), Greek historian.
Chares (4th century BC), Greek historian and chamberlain to Alexander
Scamon (4th century BC), Greek historian and son of Hellanicus.
Praxiphanes (4th century BC), Greek philosopher.
Aeschines, Greek rhetorician.
Eunicus, Greek sculptor and silversmith.
Hermarchus (3rd century BC), Greek philosopher.
Potamon (1st century AD), Greek rhetorician.
Lesbonax (1st century BC), Greek sophist and rhetorician.
Crinagoras (70 BC-18 AD), Greek epigrammatist and ambassador, poet of
Theophanes, middle of 1st century BC, Greek statesman, close friend of
Pompey the Great.
Theophrastus, Ancient Greek philosopher, student of Aristotle.
Christopher (11th century), Greek poet.
Saint Parthenios (1600–1657), Ecumenical Patriarch and religious
Santa Thomais (910–1030), nun, philanthropist and healer
Theophilos Hatzimihail (c.1870–1934), Greek painter
Stratis Myrivilis (1892–1969), Greek writer
Odysseas Elytis (1911–1996), Greek poet, Nobel Laureate in 1979
Argyris Eftaliotis (1849–1923),(née Cleanthis Michailidis), Greek
Fotis Kontoglou (Aivali, origin of Mytilene) (1895–1965) Greek
writer and painter.
Hermon di Giovanno (c. 1900–1968), Greek painter
Nikos Fermas (1905–1972), Greek actor
Irini Mouchou (born 1987), triathlete
Giorgos Mouflouzelis (1912–1991), Greek composer - Rebetiko
Panagiotis Polychronis (1854–1941), Greek artist: photographer,
lithographist and painter.
Leo Rapitis (1906–1957), Greek singer
Konstantinos Kenteris (born 1973), Greek athlete
Alexis Panselinos (1903–1984), Greek writer
Sophocles Vournazos (1853–1889), Greek philanthropist and founder of
Mytilene's academic buildings.
Tériade (1889–1983), Greek art critic, patron, and publisher
Nicholas Kampas (1857–1932), Greek poet
Nicholas Athanasiadis (1904–1990), Greek theatre writer, literature
Ioannis Hatzidaniel (1850–1912), Greek painter and photographer.
Ioannis Giannelis, Republican Senator (Nea Dimokratia)
Solon Lekkas, Singer of traditional music from Asia Minor.
Giannis Bournellis, comedian, actor.
Christos Touramanis, particle physicist
Michalis Pavlis (born 1989), football player and coach
Hayreddin Barbarossa ( 1478-1546), Ottoman admiral
Ahmed Djemal Pasha
Ahmed Djemal Pasha (1872-1922), Ottoman military leader, perpetrator
of the Armenian Genocide
Tamburi Ali Efendi ( 1836-1902 ), Turkishh Musician
Oruç Reis ( 1478-1518), Ottoman bey
Lysimachus, in Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre
Mytilene is twinned with:
Portland, Maine, United States
Ancient mosaic in the
Archaeological Museum of Mytilene
The old city hall
Experimental Lyceum School of Mytilene
Mytilene downtown from the sea
Mytilene from the sea
Mytilene fishing harbor
Mytilene local store
Mytilene homes from above
Mytilene traditional private home
Mytilene furniture artists
List of settlements in Lesbos
University of the Aegean
^ a b c "Απογραφή Πληθυσμού - Κατοικιών
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accessed July 31, 2014
^ Asia Minor Coins - ancient coins of Mytilene
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^ Grade Saver bio on
Aristotle accessed December 11, 2007
^ Thorne, James (2003). Julius Caesar: Conqueror and Dictator. The
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July 31, 2014
^ Finlay George "History of the
Byzantine Empire from 716 – 1057"
William Blackwood & Sons, 1853
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accessed July 31, 2014
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^ "Q&A: EU-
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^ D. Gerber, Greek Lyric I:
Sappho and Alcaeus (1982).
^ Hellanikos von Mytilene, Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker
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^ F. Wehrli, Phainias von Eresos, Chamaileon,
^ Diogenes Laertius 2.64.
^ F. Longo Aurrichio, Ermarcho. Frammenti (1988).
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continued Part IV no. 1085.
^ Theophanes of Mytilene, Brill's New Jacoby no. 188.
^ E. Follieri, I calendari in metro innografico di Cristoforo
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Mytilene.
Official website (in Greek)
Calendar of Lesvos
Tourist Guide of Mytilene-Lesvos (in Greek) (in English) (in Turkish)
Subdivisions of the municipality of Lesbos
Municipal unit of Agia Paraskevi
Municipal unit of Agiasos
Municipal unit of Eresos-Antissa
Municipal unit of Evergetoulas
Municipal unit of Gera
Municipal unit of Kalloni
Municipal unit of Loutropoli Thermis
Municipal unit of Mantamados
Municipal unit of Mithymna
Municipal unit of Mytilene
Municipal unit of Petra
Municipal unit of Plomari
Municipal unit of Polichnitos
Prefectural capitals of Greece
Capitals of regions of Greece
Corfu (Ionian Islands)
Komotini (East Macedonia and Thrace)
Kozani (West Macedonia)
Lamia (Central Greece)
Mytilene (North Aegean)
Patras (West Greece)
Ermoupoli (South Aegean)
Thessaloniki (Central Macedonia)
Landmarks of Lesbos
Castle of Mytilene
Kalamiaris palm forest
Petrified forest of Lesbos
Roman Aqueduct of Mytilene
Saint Ignatios Monastery
Statue of Liberty (Mytilene)
Third Journey of Paul the Apostle
7. Macedonia (again)
Former provinces of Greece
Grouped by region and prefecture
East and West Attica
East Macedonia and Thrace
Note: not all prefectures were subdivided into provinces.