The island of the poetess of ancient times, Sappho, the "workshop" of the painter Theophilos, and the muse of the Nobel-prize winner, poet and author, Odysseas Elytis, Lesvos dominates in the Eastern Aegean. Its capital, Mytilini, with a history starting in 3000 B.C., enchants with its architectural dissimilarity. However, the place where time stops is the petrified forest, which is 20 million years old.

THE 18th CENTURY EARTHQUAKES AND FIRES did not leave the structures of the 19th and 20th century unaffected, giving thus the opportunity to the visitor to admire different shaped building, but all of them having red roofs, and all together forming an enchanting scenery. A lively city, one of the few of the Aegean sea islands, that offers all kinds of facilities in winter-time and at the same time guides its visitors to an everlasting trip. The Byzantine Castle of loustinianos, one of the largest in the Mediterranean, is an ornament to the city. The Castle was restored in 1373 by Frangiskos Gatelouzos, and

today there are still many underground galleries and a large tank. However, the reference point of the city is, without any doubt the church of Agios Therapon, which can be seen even the harbor, because of its height. It was built in 1860, in a crossed Byzantine style, and is the largest church in the city.

In the city, one can also see the Ancient Theater (with a capacity of 15,000 people and acoustics that are considered equal to those of the ancient theater of Epidaurus), the Roman water reservoir, made of lesvian gray marble, the Cave of Agios Vartholomeos, the statue of Liberty and many traditional mansions. In the Archeological Museum, which is housed in two buildings, the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Theophilos Chatzimichail, where the paintings of the most important representative of the Greek folklore painting of the 20th century are being exhibited, one can learn about the history and cultural tradition of the island. Also, Mytilini,

being a city with a tradition for gluttony, offers a variety of fish tidbits at the fishing-ports and taverns. It is worth tasting scallops with spinach together with ouzo, for which the island is world-wide famous, as well as macaroons and sweet preserves.

At the northern end of the island, and an hour and a half from the capital of the island, there is the village of Molyvos or Mythimna, one of the best maintained medieval settlements of the Mediterranean and a tourist pole of attraction of Lesvos. It is built amphitheatrically on a rock on the top of which lays the castle. Most of the traditional buildings in the stone-paved streets are two-storey, made of stone and wood. There are still many public fountains with engraved signs and decorations at Molyvos, from the time of the Turkish domination. The

building of the old Baths is also an architectural monument. There are many who visit the area of Thermi, as on the hill of Karyon, there is the monastery of the miraculous St. Raphael, which is visited by worshippers from all over the world. In Thermi, there are also mineral baths, one of the many therapeutic sites of the island.

THE PETRIFIED FOREST AT SIGRI, is a real experience, a preservable monument of nature, over 20 million years old! The forest consists of giant sequoias that were covered with lava, were petrified and then, due to earthquake activity, came out to the surface again. Another priceless gift of nature, found relatively recently, are the paleontological fossils of Vrissa, with most important of the findings, jaws and bones of rare, extra-large monkeys, the younger in age specimens of the species that were found in Europe.

At Sigri, there is the Museum of Natural History. Lesvos has many more sights: the wet-land at Kalloni, with the rare migrating birds, the picturesque Agiassos, the villages in the bay of Gera, and of course the beautiful Plomari, with the "tarsanades", one of the best and older shipyards of the Aegean, and also the old olive-mills and tanneries, a sign of great prosperity in the past.
The house of Stratis Myrivilis in Skamnia and the archeological collection of Eressos are also worth visiting.Mytilini has also developed as a destination for congresses, having at least 6 congress centers of a capacity of 150-350 seats. Also, it is suitable for short trips by ship, from the port of Mytilini to the coast of Turkey. Mytilini is famous for its ouzo, macaroons and also other products, like wood-carvings and hand-woven articles. It is only 30 minutes by plane from Athens and 13 and 7 hours by ship, conventional and non-conventional, respectively.

(Posting date 9 August 2006)

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