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The Northern Aegean Islands Travel Guide


Set on the ruins of an ancient city, Mytilini (so important through history that many call Lesbos by the port's name alone) is, like Lesbos, sculpted by two bays, making its coast resemble a jigsaw-puzzle piece. This busy main town and port, with stretches of grand waterfront mansions and a busy old bazaar area, were once the scene of a dramatic moment in Greek history. Early in the Peloponnesian

War, Mytilini revolted against Athens but surrendered in 428 BC. As punishment, the Athens assembly decided to kill all men in Lesbos and enslave all women and children, and a boat was dispatched to carry out the order. The next day a less vengeful mood prevailed; the assembly repealed its decision and sent a second ship after the first. The second ship pulled into the harbor just as the commander of the first finished reading the death sentence. Just in time, Mytilini was saved. The bustling waterfront just south of the headland between the town's two bays is where most of the town's sights are clustered.

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