The Municipality of Mithimna (Molyvos)
When somebody travels around Greece, he can find almost everywhere a charming harmonious marriage between history and natural beauty. The Municipality of Mithimna has the privilege to be one of these places. The Municipality of Mithimna has 1500 inhabitants. It is 62 kilometres from the island' s capital. This Municipality is consisted of five villages: the village of Vafio, the village of Sykamnia, the village of Skala Sykamnias, the village of Lepetymnos and the village of Argenos.
As far as the history of this place, we learn from the mythology and the history that the tribe of Pelasgi were the first colonists of Lesvos. Homer calls the island the King' s Makaros kingdom. Mytilini, Mithimna, Antissa, Arisvi, Pyrra and Eresos were said to be the children of this mythic king. The homonymous towns on the island were named after them. According to mythology, Mithimna was married to Lesbos, a hero from Thessalia. According to another version, she was the wife of Lepetymnos, another hero who gave his name to the homonymous island's mountain. During the War of Troy, the town of Mithimna has been damaged many times by the attacks that the tribe of Acheon made. In one of these attacks, Achilles had besieged the town, which he conquered after the betrayal of Pisidiki, the King' s daughter. She sent a message to Achilles with her nurse, that she would surrender the town if Achilles took her to be his wife. After the conquest of Mithimna though, Achilles punished Pisidiki by killing her because she betrayed her country.
The ruins of the ancient quay show to us that the ancient port was situated at the same place, where the new one is. The main cemetery of the ancient town of Mithimna was situated to the south of the city' s wall. The graves, which have been found along the road that starts from Petra and goes to Mithimna, are a proof that this road already existed in the past. Graves have been also found out of the other sides of the wall too.
Ruins that belong to a town reveal that the town had been later expanded out of the fortified zone, towards the south. As it seems from the ruins of the ancient aqueduct' s conduits, Mithimna was being supplied with water from the springs situated on the slopes of the mountain Lepetymnos. The system that had been applied shows that the aqueduct had been constructed during the Hellenistic era or a little bit earlier. Mithimna has been throughout the centuries the motherland of great writers, such as the poet Arion, who perfected the dithyramb and the writers Ilia Venezi and Argyres Eftalioti.
This is one of the most ancient towns on the island. It has been, because of its beauty, a place of inspiration for many poets, writers and artists. Anyone who visits this town is amazed every time he sees it appearing in the calm scenery of the olive groove, at the foot of the rock on the top of which the medieval castle dominates. The solid traditional buildings, made of stone or of painted wood, are situated in a labyrinth of narrow streets. On the far side of the town, there is a picturesque small port that completes this unique image. The Municipality of Mithimna is also a place of a deep cultural life. This is obvious from its rich cultural past and from its actual cultural activity. Its cultural tradition that is expressed in various ways is a part of the Greek Civilization that has been developed to the east Aegean. The buildings, the popular art, the painting, the literature, the poetry, the dance and the songs reflect all over the island this cultural activity.
The visitor discoveries in Mithimna the traditional rhythms that characterize the life when living on an island. The visitor is welcome to be a part of those rhythms thanks to the hospitality of the inhabitants. Tourists have plenty of reasons to visit Mithimna such as the sunrise, the walking around the traditional streets and the venetian castle, the museum, the gallery, the small port and the beach of Eftalou. Many producers and stage managers have chosen Mithimna for their works. One of them was James Parish, who made an excellent presentation of Mithimna through his work, in 1960. The poet Phedonas Theophilos, who comes from Mithimna, expresses the best way, through his work, the beauty and the function of Mithimna
«"Mithimna did not just gave me her beauty. She gave it to me little by little as a wise woman, who wants to be always loved, would do."»Sykamnia - Skala Sykamnias
The village of Sykamnia belongs to the Municipality of Mithimna. It is a village built on the green slopes of the mountain Lepetymnos. Its characteristic street pattern and the houses made of stone, the mansions with the "sahnisinia", a traditional architectural element, the inscriptions of the 19th century and the traditional narrow streets, they all compose an harmonious and very beautiful image. The house of the famous Greek writer Strati Stamatopoulou, Stratis Myrivilis being his artistic name, is open to whoever wants to visit it.
Three kilometres to the north, there is the village of Skala Sykamnias, a characteristic village inhabited by fishermen. It is the most northern village of the island, facing the seashore of Minor Asia. The visitor we will have the chance to enjoy there one of the most beautiful sunsets. He will also find there the Chapel of "the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mermaid", which is built on a piece of land that goes into the sea. The chapel was named after the characteristic fresco made by an unknown popular painter and representing the Blessed Virgin Mary with the tail of a mermaid. It is a painting that represents the emotional connection between religion and tradition.
Lepetymnos - Argenos - Vafio - Eftalou
The road that from Sykamnia leads to Mithimna goes through the villages of Lepetymnos and Argenos. Few kilometres before we enter the village of Mithimna we go through the village of Vafio with a great view and traditional taverns. Four kilometres to the northeast of Mithimna there is the summer resort Eftalou, which has been the place of rest of Ilia Venezi, with the wonderful beaches and an endless view over Minor Asia. At Eftalou we will also find the grave of the famous writer Argyri Eftalioti (meaning the one, who comes from Eftalou).
Apart from the tourism of recreation, the visitor, who chooses Mithimna for his vacations, has the possibility to enjoy the tourism that is based upon the social relations and the human communication in general. Many tourists have become frequent visitors of Mithimna and have also created social relationships with the inhabitants of the village. But above of all, we should mention that Mithimna has the possibility and the perspective to develop educational tourism.
Many cultural happenings took place and take place every year, such as the Eftaliotia (the Festival of Eftalou), the International Banquet of Aegean as well as the Conference "Mediterranean - Europe". Every year festivals for the protection of the tradition and the architectural inheritance, exhibitions of painting and popular art, theatrical and musical lectures as well as folklore theatrical plays are organized. Mithimna is an endless source of inspiration and has always been a pole of attraction for foreign and local artists. The number of the artists is increased by the function of the summer department of the School of Fine Arts.
The foundation of the Art Gallery, in 1981, is a proof of the important cultural efforts that have been taking place in Mithimna since then. Of an equal importance is also the temporary or permanent presence of writers in the village. Stratis Myrivilis is one of them. He had met here the famous "teacher with the golden hair", who has been the heroine of one his most famous books.
Another habit that takes place in Mithimna the first week of July is the "Nautical Week". It tales place at the village' s port. Poems that concern the sea are recited, fishes and wine are offered and the festival goes on with traditional dances, songs and fireworks.The Art Gallery of Mithimna
The Art Gallery of Mithimna is situated in the centre the village. In the yard of the building there is the bust of the poet and writer Argyri Eftalioti, who was born in Mithimna. The works of many painters have been gifted to the Art Gallery and are exhibited in a permanent exhibition. During the period that starts from 1/6 until 31/9, every year, exhibitions of Fine Arts (sculpture, painting, pottery, photography, wooden sculpture and carving) are organized. This exhibition has a commercial character. We should talk about, though, the cultural happenings that take place and whose purpose is to bring the younger generations closer to the parts of the civilization that belong to the past. Such cultural happenings are exhibitions of old utensils, embroideries, dress and old photos. The entrance to the Gallery is free. From there we have a panoramic view over the village and the sea. The Art Gallery is open to the public from the middle of May until the end of October.Conference Centre
The Conference Centre of Mithimna is established in an old traditional restored public building that has been specially restored for this purpose. It is situated in the centre of Mithimna (market place). We can reach it by car without any difficulty. The main conference hall has 203 places for the participants and six places for the organization committee. There is also a central system of heating and cool-air. There is a screen for video projections and a projector. There is also a telecommunication with the spare spaces and the exhibition (in case of an emergency the connection is easy and direct). As far as the secretarial support is concerned, it can be supplied by the Municipality according to the conference' s demands.
Through the architecture and the structure that characterize the village of Mithimna, we can follow the cultural and social development of the society of Mithimna. The architectural character and the town planning of Mithimna reveal to us the continuing of a very interesting history. The geographical position of Mithimna on the north coast of the island, opposite Troy on the coast of Minor Asia, was of an equal strategic importance with the geographical position of Mytilini. The town of Mithimna had the possibility to control the north traffic towards the Gulf of Adramytti.
The town was built on a peninsula towards the port. From the sea it was protected by a natural fortification made of hills. The fortification was much stronger from the land because the wall was the continuity of those hills, a part of which belongs today to the medieval castle. The most ancient parts of the wall situated on the land, which were 2900 metres long, date back to the 8th century a. C. As the walls of Mithimna' s fortifications had not been destroyed by the Athenians in 427 a. C., as it happened to many other towns, the ruins of the walls are the most ancient on Lesvos. The stones are rounded and the joints are not very well fitted. Since the byzantine era until nowadays, the town of Mithimna remains and is developed to the same geographical position. A systematic research though, would reveal many details that concern the medieval form of the town.
We should mention here, that alike other islands of the Aegean , the presence of the colonists of Geneva on the on the island of Lesbos did not influence the local architecture ( curved constructions, semicircular arches, decoration etc.). This particularity is due to the close relation that Lesbos had maintained with the Byzantine during the era of Gatelouzi. The fact that the town had to be constructed in a limited area, for defense reasons at the beginning, but also because of the morphology of the soil (steep rocky surface) led to a perfect exploitation of the whole area. This way, the town of Mithimna presents a net of narrow streets, where older buildings, constructed the one after the other, compose a solid entity of houses. There is no free space in the historical centre of Mithimna. The town has maintained its particular character, which has been formed during the last two centuries of the Turkish rule and particularly during the 19th century.
The market place is extended over two streets that converge to a small square. It is the vital space of the economical life and in the same time the centre of social relations and amusement. The foliage of trees and plants covers the two streets of the market place. From all the public constructions, the most characteristic are the well-maintained fountains and their relief inscriptions and decorations. These monuments, like most of the lesbian walls until the Hellenistic era, are usually constructed according to the system of the Lesbian Structure. According to this technique, the stones conserve their natural character and form. With the help of the flexible leaden rule, the constructors managed to create harmonius and more supple constructions made of stone.The castle
The way the Byzantine Castle is constructed, gives the impression to the visitor that it touches the sea. Frangisco Gatelouzo mended it. The necessity of protection against the exterior dangers determined the height of the town' s construction as well as its defensive position. The castle is the centre of the town. The town is extended around it in a semicircular shape.
The archaeological sites that the visitor has the chance to admire in Mithimna are the Ruins of the ancient town of Mithimna with the sarcophagus, the graves and the buildings of the Roman Era.
The archaeological collection of Mithimna is established in the Town Hall as well as the Library and has at its disposal more than 10000 tomes of manuscripts.
Natural Hot Springs
Natural hot springs are open to the public, 4 kilometres from Mithimna, at the summer resort of Eftalou. They heal rheumatisms, arthritis, gynaecological problems, lumbago, sciatica and affections of the skin.
Amusement and sports
There are a lot of traditional taverns and bars. Do not omit to follow the cultural happenings that take place at the Castle during July and August as well as the other festivals and happenings.