Architecture in Lesvos

On Lesvos you can find coastal, preserved settlements and mountain traditional villages. Rural residencies and stone buildings indicate the architectural simplicity of Lesvos countryside. Towers and magnificent mansions with neoclassical, baroque, neogothic, belle époque, renaissance elements as well as middle age and Ottoman buildings, Byzantine castles and imposing temples compose a picture which stays in the mind of every visitor.

During your tour on the island, you will be soon impressed by its amazing architecture and especially by that of its capital, Mytilini. Mansions mainly built in late 19th early 20th century, combine typical Greek architecture with European elements (baroque, neogothic, renaissance, neoclassic). Tall windows, big wooden doors, marble stairs, pediments and columns prove Lesvos’ urban glamour of the past. Many of these are found along the road to the airport at the region of Sourada, but also dispersed on the island, such as in Petra where you can visit Vareltzidaina’s Mansion, a building of late 18th century which belongs to the secular architecture of Lesvos of the late Turkish occupation. At the seafront of Mytilini you can also find buildings of exceptional architecture: the former hotel “Great Britannia”, the old building of Port Authority, the building of the Regional Authority, the old Town Hall, etc.

In the settlements of the island you will meet another form of architecture with traditional tile-roofed residencies built of stone, usually with an extended wooden second floor (sahnisini), giving a unique appearance to their facades. Typical example of traditional settlements with this type of architecture are Molyvos and Agiasos.

A combination of urban and rural domicile is the towers which you will meet mainly in the region of Pirgi Thermis, as well as in other settlements. They are three-storey stone buildings used as countryside residencies of wealthy families of the times past. Their structure reminds fortified building with its ground floor to be protected by invaders with the lack of windows and the presence of a narrow entrance.

On the island you can also see monuments from the times of Ottoman dominion. Most of them are found in Mytilini: mosques such as Geni Tzami in Ermou Street, Yali Tzami and Valithe Tzami in the region of Epano Skala, Ottoman baths such as Tsarsi Hamam in the Market, as well as other buildings such as the Ottoman Gymnasium of Mytilini which nowadays hosts the Courts, Halim Bey mansion which hosts the Municipal Gallery, the former hotel Sarlitza Palace in Thermi. However, remnants of Ottoman buildings, mainly mosques, are also met in many other places on the island. 

On Lesvos there is also a strong presence of industrial buildings, a fact that proves its past commercial prosperity: olive oil presses, soap factories, tanneries, warehouses. Today, some of these buildings have been restored and used as cultural venues and museums such as the Cultural Centre of Mandamados (former community olive oil press), the Vranas Olive Press Museum in Papados of Gera, the Soap Factory in Plomari and the Museum of Industrial Olive oil Production in Agia Paraskevi.

At the countryside, you will find rural houses (damia) that serve as temporary domiciles or store places, dry stone walls (setia) that hold the sloping soils for olive tree cultivation, stone bridges and spring fountains, composing the rural architecture of the island.

Finally, besides the secular architecture, there is a strong presence of ecclesiastical architecture: Agios Therapon in Mytilini, a Byzantine temple  with many gothic elements in its exterior, the metropolitan church of Agios Athanasios in the old settlement of Mytilini, with its impressive bell tower (of 33 metres height) of gothic style, the three-aisled basilica of Mary’s Dormition (Kimisi Theotokou) in Agiasos but also many rural small churches found dispersed on the island. The monasteries of the island such as Moni of Limonas, Moni of Pammegistoi Taxiarches of Mandamados, Moni of Pythari in Eresos, etc. also present a great architectural interest