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A town in traditional style

  The architectural character of Mithymna is living testimony to a tempestuous and much-troubled historical continuity. The town, rooted on the rock which is dominated by the medieval Castle and spreading down to the sea, still retains its own individual character as that was shaped in the last two centuries of Turkish rule, particularly in the nineteenth century. It is a traditional type of settlement which climbs upwards and is flanked by steep cliffs. The medieval Castle is its point of reference, and it is around this that its fabric is deployed. The castle itself is not large; it has a perimeter of 310 metres. The development of the town in a confined space, originally for reasons of defence and also because of the sharply sloping rock, enforced an exceptional utilisation of the space. Thus, Molyvos has preserved a complex of paved and cobbled mule paths (kalderimia}, along which the older buildings, often contiguous, make up a dense and cohesive whole. The amount of open space in the historic nucleus of the town is limited. The Market lines two streets which converge in a small square. This is the vital space of the town' s social and economic life. The streets of the market are shaded with salkimia (foliage) at the dividing line between the ground-floor shops and the living quarters on the first floor. Most of the traditional buildings are two-storeyed, with stone and wood as their building materials. Usually the stone walls have remained unplastered and are pointed with mortar. Often, when the upper floor is of wood, the walls project beyond the outline of the ground floor and form sachnisia (oriels). Carved wooden beams support the sachnisia, which serve to enlarge the central space of the living quarters. In Molyvos, many mansions dating from the late eighteenth century have survived; examples are the Yannakos mansion and the building housing the School of Fine Arts (formerly the Krallis mansion), with elaborate wail-paintings. Many of the town' s buildings have a neo-Classical morphology. The harmonisation of differing architectural types into a single organised whole makes Molyvos a place of rare beauty. On the edge of the town, the picturesque harbour completes the unique picture of Mithymna. The parish churches are also buildings characteristic of the place. The Basilica of the Archangel (Taxiarches), which was built in 1795, is one of the most important architectural monuments of Molyvos. St Panteleimon - built in 1844 - has a number of neo-classical features. Also a noteworthy example of church architecture is St Cyriace. In Molyvos, a large number of public fountains, from the time of Ottoman rule with relief inscriptions and decorations, have been preserved. The Old Baths building is another architectural monument of the last century. The Mithymna Municipal Gallery, with an impressive collection of works of art, was set up in 1961. The Archaeological Collection is housed in the Town Hall, while the Municipal Library enriches the town's cultural life. Molyvos by providing many limitless sources of inspiration has always been a point of attraction for many artists, local and foreign. Many cultural manifestations are organized every year in Mithymna, such as conventions, lectures, exhibitions of paintings and popular art, theatrical and folkloric performances.
This extract is cited October 2004 from the URL below, which contains image

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


MITHYMNA (Ancient city) LESVOS
  Methumna, and on coins Methumna, Mathumna: Eth. Methumnaios. A town in Lesbos, the most important next after Mytilene. It was situated on the northern shore of the island, where a channel of 60 stadia (Strab. xiii. p. 618) intervened between it and the coast of the mainland near Assos.
  One of the earliest notices of the Methymnaeans is the mention of their conquest of Arisba, another town of Lesbos, and their enslaving of its citizens. (Herod. i. 151.) The territory of Methymna seems to have been contiguous to that of Mytilene, and this may have been one cause of the jealousy between the two cities. The power and fame of Mytilene was on the whole far greater; but in one period of the history of Lesbos, Methymna enjoyed greater prosperity. She did not join the revolt of the other Lesbians from Athens in the Peloponnesian War (Thuc. iii. 2, 18), and she was therefore exempted from the severe punishment which fell on Mytilene. (Thuc. iii. 50.) Hence she retained the old privilege of furnishing a naval contingent instead of a tribute in money. (Thuc. vi. 85, vii. 57.) Shortly before the battle of Arginusae, Methymna fell into the power of the Lacedaemonians, and it was on this occasion that the magnanimous conduct of Callicratidas presented so remarkable a contrast to that of the Athenians in reference to Mytilene. (Xen. Hellen. i. 6. § 14.) After this time Methymna seems to have become less and less important. It comes into notice, however, in every subsequent period of history. It is mentioned in the treaty forced by the Romans (B.C. 154) between Attalus II. and Prusias II. (Polyb. xxxiii. 11.) It is stated by Livy (xlv. 31) and by Pliny (v. 31) to have incorporated the inhabitants of Antissa with its own. Its coins, both autonomous and imperial, are numerous. It was honourably distinguished for its resistance to the Mahomedans, both in the 12th and 15th centuries; and it exists on the same spot at the present day, under the name of Molivo.
  We have no information concerning the buildings and appearance of ancient Methymna. It evidently possessed a good harbour. Its chief fame was connected with the excellent wine produced in its neighbourhood. (Virg. Georg. ii. 90; Ovid, Art. Am. i. 57; Hor. Sat. ii. 8. 50.) Horace (Od. i. 117. 21) calls Lesbian wine innocens; and Athenaeus (ii. p. 45) applies the epithet eustomachos to a sweet Lesbian wine. In another place (i. p. 32) he describes the medicinal effect of the wine of this island. Pliny says (xiv. 9) that it had a salt taste, and apparently mentions this as a merit. Pausanias, in his account of Delphi (x. 19), tells a story of some fishermen of Methymna dragging in their nets out of the sea a rude image of Bacchus, which was afterwards worshipped. Methymna was the birthplace of the poet and musician Arion. Myrsilus also, who is said to have written a history of Lesbos, is supposed to have been born here.

This text is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited June 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   (Methumna and Methumna, the first form being the better). The second city of Lesbos, standing at the northern extremity of the island. It was the birthplace of the poet Arion and of the historian Hellanicus. The celebrated Lesbian wine grew in its neighbourhood. In the Peloponnesian war it remained faithful to Athens, even during the great Lesbian revolt; afterwards it was sacked by the Spartans (B.C. 406), and never recovered its former prosperity.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Perseus Project


Methymna, Molivos, Molybos, Methymnaeans, Methymnaean, Methymnians, Methymnian, Methymne

The Catholic Encyclopedia


The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


Methymna (Molybos) is at the N end of Lesbos, ca. 61 km NW of Mytilene. It was the next most powerful city state on the island after Mytilene. During the war between Athens and Sparta Methymna always opposed Mytilene and tended to resist the hegemony of whichever side was favored by Mytilene. Before the time of Herodotos Methymna had taken over Arisba by force, and in 167 B.C. when the Romans destroyed Antissa, they gave her territory to Methymna. Some archaeological discoveries were made in Methymna in the 19th c., and after WWI traces of an ancient settlement dating from as early as the 7th or possibly 8th c. B.C. and continuing to Roman times were found at Dambia, NW of the present town.

This extract is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited June 2003 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

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