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Lesvos or Mytilene - The west of the island: Eresos & Sigri - Eresos


Eresos


Eresos lives today, and grew up in Antiquity, on the strength of the wide and fertile kambos which lies between its long shore and the slopes of Mount Ordymnos to the north, and is watered by a multitude of seasonal torrents: the volcanic soil makes it particularly productive for fruit and vines. Ancient Eresos—birthplace of the philosopher and botanist, Theophrastus, and (by general consensus) of Sappho—was by the sea, at the eastern end of the shore. The inland Eresos of today, on a steep hill at the northern extremity of the cultivated plain above the valley of one of the torrents, was founded in the early Middle Ages when it was necessary to move inland as a refuge against coastal piracy. The town is large, and its four-square stone houses, with low tiled roofs typical of the Levant coast, spread widely onto the plateau to the north of the centre. The small Archaeological Museum on the plateia has been closed since many of the artefacts were transferred contentiously to the main museum in Mytilene.
   At Skala Eresou, which looks onto one the island’s most attractive beaches, what remains to be seen of Ancient Eresos lies around the conical hill of Vigla, mentioned by Strabo, at the bay’s eastern end. It overlooks a small harbour where beside the modern jetty can be seen the remains of the ancient artificial mole just below water-level. Visible from here, looking back at the eastern slope of the hill, can be seen the remains (rectangular) of a corner bastion constructed in Byzantine masonry, and behind (circular) a Genoese tower of the late 14th century; while below at various points on the lower slopes are small runs of Classical walling, beautifully constructed from blocks of trachytic stone in interlocking polygonal ‘Lesbian’ masonry. The blocks appear to have been hewn and shaped with a flat instrument, more like a very broad chisel than a pick. This was part of an enceinte with gates and towers (estimated at 1km in length by the 19th century archaeologist, Koldewey). It was later extended to the south in Hellenistic times with walls constructed in isodomic masonry. Little remains on the surface; though a number of ancient blocks, some with inscriptions, have been incorporated in the structure of the most impressive remains in the area—namely the Early Christian basilica of St Andrew of Crete, which lies on the opposite (west) side of Vigla hill, possibly on the site of a pagan sanctuary of Dionysos and Apollo. (A protrusion of the crepidoma of an ancient building can be seen at the church’s south west corner.) The structure dates from the mid-5th century, and its extensive mosaic floor survives both in the nave and the narthex. It carries a clear dedicatory inscription and possesses a field of complex and varying abstract designs, interspersed with panels figuring peacocks—all achieved with the minimal means of four principal colours of stone. In the centre of the nave, a marble column base covers the opening of a well (now filled) below the floor. Sarcophagi, mostly of the Christian period, can be seen close to the church’s perimeter; others have been moved to the area in front of the school building which stands just across the road; a number of the houses in the area also have ancient fragments in their gardens. Excavations are currently under way in a vacant lot, 50m from the east end of the basilica. A small museum, displaying finds and illustrating the on-going archaeological work, is scheduled to open in the school building beside the ba silica in 2012.
   Another, slightly later (6th century) basilica lies at the opposite (western) end of the shore, known generally as the ‘Aphendelli’ basilica, from the name of the owner on whose land the finds were made. (Follow track which passes the Aeolian Village Hotel to its end.) A beautiful area of mosaic, once again figuring peacocks, is conserved in front of the central apse.


Lesvos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.
Ancient Eresos, Theophrastus & Sappho.


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Lesvos general information
Ancient Pyrrha

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Lesvos Island, Greece.


By air:
Domestic flights from Athens, four times daily with Olympic Air and two or three times daily with Aegean Airlines, serve Mytilene through out the year.
There are daily Olympic Air connections with Thessaloniki, and 6 days a week with Aegean Airlines, including a twice weekly local, Eastern Aegean route with Olympic, from Thessaloniki to Rhodes , via Lemnos and Chios and (once a week only) Samos . The airport is 5km from the centre of Mytilene.
By boat: The principal route from Piraeus to Mytilene is served by Hellenic Seaways, via Chios, with a daily 12.30 departure from Piraeus, arriving at Mytilene 21.00, and returning to Piraeus again overnight.
GA Ferries run 3 times weekly along the route from/to Chios and Samos to the south, and Lemnos and Kavala to the north.
There is a weekly Saos Ferries service from the port of Sígri (north west Lesbos) on the route be- tween Kavala, Lemnos, Aghios Evstratios (to north), and (to south) Psará and Lavrion (for Athens). Crossings to Turkey (Ayvalık/Dikili) run 4 to 5 times weekly during the summer season (May–early-Oct) only.

Lesvos Travel Guide

beaches

Lesvos Island, Greece.

 

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Lesvos Travel Guide

eating

Lesvos Island, Greece.

The port area of Mytilene has many small (mostly new) tavernas, dedicated to providing interesting, fresh and varied Levantine–Aegean dishes with localredients, good local breads, and offer a pleasant atmosphere.
Two which are particularly to be recommended, are: *Matzourána (30 Komninaki St.), one block in from the east side of the harbour;
and *Machalás (27 Mitrelia St.), two blocks in from the north side of the harbour.
A more "folkloric" setting and some good local dishes are provided by Zoubouli, on the corner of Sarandoporou and Venedakis Streets, behind the north- east corner of the port.
For traditional vegetable and fish mezedes, prepared with care and imagination, nothing can beat the Taverna "Rebetis" on the waterfront, overlooking the north harbour from its southeast corner.
11km north of Mytilene, shortly after Pyrgi Thermis, beside the church of St George, is the Taverna Aghios Giorgios—good for fresh fish, and popular with locals on Sundays especially.
On the road to Polichnítos, below the village of Asomatos and 3km after the junction at Kerameia, is the Taverna "Karini" in the deep shade of plane-trees and vines beside a stream; the food is ordinary, but the setting delightful.
At picturesque Skala Sykaminiás on the north coast, the tavernas in the port have mostly become, through popularity, over-priced or poor in quality; but 1km to the west along the track by the shore from the harbour, is To Kyma, still unspoiled and with good fish dishes.
Taverna "Vapheios", in the village of that name 6km to the east of Molyvos, has good local specialties and sunset views to match.
Right in the heart of Molyvos, the tiny and basic *Obelisteria "Methymna" (further up the street past the Demarcheion) deserves special recommendation for the care with which the owner chooses his excel lent meats and produce, serving the client with the tastiest salads and grilled meats to be found on the island, simply seasoned with fresh herbs, and provided at very modest prices. Space is limited, especially in winter.

Lesvos Travel Guide

further reading

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Longus (2nd century ad), The Pastoral Story of Daphnis & Chloe, an ancient romance novel set on Lesbos (translated in Reardon’s Ancient Greek Novels, 1989).
Richard Brooks, Birding on the Greek Island of Lesvos—revised 2002, is an invaluable guide to the island’s unusually rich birdlife.

Lesvos Travel Guide

lodging

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Notwithstanding the décor which is a little over the top (an endemic problem in the two or three converted man sions which offer accommodation in Mytilene), the hotel Pyrgos of Mytilene (T. 22510 27977, 25069, fax 47319, www.pyrgoshotel.gr. Upper price range.) on the hill to the south of the harbour, is the city’s smartest hotel—welcoming, comfortable, providing a good breakfast with freshly baked items, and open all year round. The road-side rooms can be noisy, however.
An inexpensive alternative is the Hotel Orpheas (T.22510 28523, fax 21930), in a converted mansion mid-way between the two Archaeological Museums.
Not far outside Mytilene (11 km to the north), at Pyrgi Thermis, is the delightful Hotel Votsala- (T. 22510 71231, fax 71179; www.votsalahotel. com. Apr-Oct. Medium price). Welcoming, informal, and pointedly un-touristy and unpretentious, this simple and beautiful hotel on the shore, run by a Mytilenean architect and his wife, is perhaps the most civilised and enjoyable solution on the island.
Molyvos has a wider variety of places to chose from: on the shore below the town, is the Olive Press Hotel (medium price), arranged around the courtyard of a converted olive mill (T. 22530 71205, fax 71646).
In the heart of Molyvos is the delightful and simple Nassos Guesthouse (inexpensive; T. 22530 71432, www.nassosguesthouse.com);
and nearby, for real simplicity in an old Ottoman-style house, Pension Chrisi (T. 22530 72193). Not far away, between Petra and Anaxos, is the Clara Hotel & Bungalows (T. 22530 41532, fax 41535, www.clarahotel.gr); the complex, which has comprehensive facilities and is set in its own gardens, has fine views of Molyvos and Petra, but is a little distance from both and is not on the beach.
In Plomari, the nicest lodgings are provided by the Hotel Leda (T. 22520 32507; open May–Sept only) in a fine traditional mansion with views out to sea: it is in the centre of town, up a flight of steps from the main square.
The only accommodation which is part of one of the thermal spring spas are the rooms offered at Thermes Polichnitou (T. 22520 41201).

Lesvos Travel Guide

museums

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Archaeological Museum

Lesvos Travel Guide

practical info

Lesvos Island, Greece.

811 00 09, 812 00 & 813 00 Lesbos:
area 1630sq km
perimeter 370km
population 108,000
max. altitude 968m.
Port Authority (Mytilene): T. 22510 40827, 47888.
Travel and information: Pan Tours 22510 46595, www.pantours.gr, Dimakis Travel 22510 27865, www.dimakistours.gr

Lesvos Travel Guide

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