The south of the city
Less than 250m south of the main ferry port, beside the coastal boulevard (Venizelos Street) between Karapanaiotis and Pesmazoglou Streets, are the curious remains of a 1st century bc stone piscina with water-channels and sluices, preserved on an island in the middle of the traffic. The quantity of cooking vessels and drinking cups cleared from it by the archaeologists suggests that this may have been a fish-tank in a luxurious private residence; earlier it may have functioned as a water supply for commercial activity in a workshop on this site. Drains, channels, and sluices to control flow are clearly visible in the structure.
The streets of this southern area of the city and the coastal boulevard itself are scattered with some remarkable examples of mansion architecture from the period between 1850 and 1920. Stability and economic prosperity together with an opening of the island to more inter national markets and influences, led to the construction of large and eclectic buildings, standing in their own plots or gardens, which combine elements from a long history and wide geography of architectures. The common basis of the design is more often than not the four-square neoclassical house; onto this have been grafted memories of the projecting balconies of Ottoman houses, or of the vertical form of traditional Lesbian pyrgos, mixed with the baroque embellishments of Italianate architecture. At the same time, elements of architecture seen in Constantinople, or Egypt, or French North Africa have also been incorporated. The result is a fusion of different materials, colours, decorative motifs and architectural details. The houses emulate the grandeur and substance of those in Athens, yet have something uniquely Levantine about them. Outside of the northern Athenian suburb of Kifissia, it would be hard to find a wider variety of suburban villa architecture in the Aegean than in these few kilometres between Mytilene and Vareia.
In the midst of these late 19th century buildings, a fine example of a traditional pyrgos (tower house) stands out, to the right of the main coast road as it descends south into Vareia Bay; another example is in the village of Vareia itself, 800m in from the shore on the road towards the Theophilos and Teriade Museums. These ‘pyrgi’, which were often the second homes of wealthy Greeks or Turks, date from the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and are a local variation of a kind of free-standing mediaeval tower found widely throughout Greece. On Lesbos they commonly have two floors in stone (small, rectangular and often with only one room per floor) with a luminous top-floor freely articulated in rooms which extend out in a projecting, wooden-framed, lath and plaster construction.
Lesvos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.
Mytilene, the south of the City.