The Castle of Mithimna dominates views of Molyvos town from all directions.
Editor’s Note: This is the third instalment of my Moments in Molyvos series of photo reports from our 8-day visit to Molyvos (also known as Mithimna) in spring 2019. Part 1 featured photos of sights along the main commercial road and harbourside, while Part 2 contained pictures from walks in the town’s traditional market, and on the hillsides below the castle.
It’s the biggest, most important and most visible monument in Molyvos, so of course we had to pay a visit to the Castle of Mithimna during our first-ever Lesvos island holiday in late April 2019.
Nearly 650 years old, the castle occupies a hilltop location that has been historically significant for more than 2,500 years. According to a leaflet published by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Lesvos, an ancient acropolis stood on the site from around the 5th Century B.C. until sometime during the 6th Century A.D., when the Byzantines built a fortification in its place. The Venetians conquered the fort in 1128, but from 1204 to 1287 it was occupied by Baldwin II of Flandre. At the end of the 13th Century, the fortress came under Catalan control; however, much of the structure was destroyed when the Genoans seized the stronghold early in the 14th Century. In 1373, the Genovese Francisco 1 Gateluzo ordered the reconstruction of the castle, and the Genoans controlled it until the Ottomans took occupation of Lesvos in 1462. The Ottomans made repairs and additions to the structure in the 15th and 17th Centuries, but the form of the fortress — an irregular trapezoid shape with 10 towers and two strongholds — has remained essentially the same to this day.
Further historical background information is available on the Molyvos/Mithimna Castle page of Odysseus, the official website of the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sport. The link contains two pages of historical and descriptive information, and while it’s available in Greek only, you can use an online translation program to read it in English or other languages. Additional information, along with maps and a video, on the Castle of Mithimna page of the Kastrologos Castles of Greece website.
To reach the castle from the main road in Molyvos, we had the choice of walking or driving to the top of the rocky hill. We preferred to hoof it, which meant huffing and puffing our way up dozens of flights of steps on the steep hillsides below the castle. It sounds like an arduous trek, but it’s actually a great opportunity to explore some of the scenic residential neighbourhoods of Molyvos en route. (You can see what these areas look like in Part 2 of this series).
Admission to the castle cost only €2 per adult in April 2019.
This video by Yiorgaks takes you on a scenic flight over Molyvos, providing excellent views of the castle and upper town areas of Molyvos, and beyond
Please click on the link below to turn to page 2, where I have posted our photos of the castle (inside and out) and its views.
CONTINUED ON PAGE 2