Mytilini Travel Guide


Built on the ruins of an ancient city, Mytilini (so important through history that many call Lesvos by the port's name alone) is, like Lesvos, sculpted by two bays, one to the north and one to the south, making the town's waterfront resemble a jigsaw-puzzle piece. This busy main town and port, with stretches of grand waterfront mansions and a busy old bazaar area, was 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 put to death all men in Lesvos and enslave the women and children, so a trireme set sail to issue the order. The next day a less vengeful mood prevailed in Athens and the assembly repealed its brutal decision and sent a double-manned trireme after the first one. The second trireme pulled into the harbor just as the commander of the first ship finished reading out the death sentence. Just in time, Mytilini was saved. To the south the modern town flows along the seafront into the elegant suburb and artistic enclave of Varia, once home to the modern "naive" artist Theophilos; Stratis Eleftheriadis, "Tériade," famous publisher of modern art journals; and the 20th-century poet Odysseus Elytis.


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