Mytilene is the capital and port of the island of Lesvos. During the ancient times the little harbor was connected with a 700 meter long channel, evidence of which has been noted in the tales of the Roman writer Longus. Vibrant and historically rich Mytilene is a gem of the North Aegean, where visitors will be captivated by the bustling capital, the remarkable historical landmarks and the incredible culinary scene, not to forget the local drink and culture of ouzo.
The people of Lesvos add to the charm of the island with their gracious hospitality and the desire to showcase the best of their island. Here are some of the highlights of Mytilene Town which we experienced by spending the day in this wonderful neighborhood.
The Archaeological Museum of Mytilene
Do take advantage of the daylight and start your visit as early as possible. Like any great Greek destination, Lesvos is also rich in historical heritage. If you do enjoy learning about a destination’xs historical past then a visit to the Archaeological Museum of Mytilene is highly recommended. This fairly new museum displays a permanent exhibition dedicated to Lesvos from Hellenistic to Roman Times. For more information about the museum you may read my previous post on Mytilene for the history buffs.
The Castle of Mytilene
The Castle of Mytilene, the island’s historical landmark is perched on a hill amongst the pine forest, overlooking the sea — from here you can experience the best view of Mytilene. The castle which has managed to withstand time is one of the largest in the Mediterranean.
Ermou Street — the heart of the city
To really experience the everyday life of the Mytilene Town make sure to spend time walking around Ermou Street which is the commercial center of Lesvos. Linger around the streets and admire the impressive architectural buildings. Here you will find a variety of shops selling everything from souvenirs to products, clothing and much more.
The architectural façades of the buildings are a harmonious blend of Neoclassical and baroque styles dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries with notable touches from the Ottoman Empire which are evident in buildings such as the Yeni Tzami, a 19th-century Turkish mosque located towards the end of Ermou Street.
Towards the end of Ermou Street the skyline is highlighted by the island’s most prominent church of Saint Therapon which was built in 1860. The church was completed combining Neoclassical, Baroque and Gothic elements, featuring a very distinct dome shaped roof which is visible from the port of Mytilene Town.
In the evening the lit-up church looks even more splendid as it dominates the twinkling harbour.
EVA distillery — for the love of ouzo
If you weren’t acquainted with the ouzo culture before, not to worry — a trip to Lesvos will instil a love of ouzo, guaranteed. On the island of Lesvos, sitting down for an ouzo break as early as 11 am is considered a vital part of the local culture. You don’t want to miss learning about the origins and the production of this fascinating drink.
During our trip we had the chance to visit a family run distillery which is located on the outskirts of Mytilene Town. At the EVA distillery, Eleni a food technologist gave us a tour of the premises and explained the process of producing this anise based drink.
Eleni spoke about the ingredients and the distillery methods applied in the production. Making the drink requires skill and the use of local ingredients and after a double or even triple distillation process which can total up to eight hours, the famous ouzo is made.
EVA distillery produces a variety of ouzo with distinct flavours such as Dimino, Mitilini and Sertiko as well as the Mastic Tears, an elegant aromatic mastic spirit liqueur with a sweet and refreshing aftertaste. The company exports its products internationally to 24 countries.
On the occasion of our visit our hosts organised an event dedicated to the ouzo and meze culture of Lesvos where we got to savour the local appetizers prepared by a local food blogger Maria Panagou and special ouzo and Mastic based cocktails.
Mytilini Marina and the Marina Yacht Club
Mytilini Town is a sea port with a designated marina which is located on the south-east edge of the island. The marina operates since 2010 and has a total capacity of 222 berths for yachts up to 25 meters.
In the evening enjoy a walk around town as the night sky gives a completely different character to this historical neighborhood.