Home arrow About Mithymna (Molivos) arrow History, Culture
  • Greek
  • English
History, Culture

"Pelasgy" with King Makaras were the first settlers of the Island of Lesvos. Homer refers to Lesvos as “Makaros Edos” meaning Makaras’ Kingdom. Mitylene, Mithymna, Arisvi, Andissa and Eressos were his children and the most important cities of the Island were named after them. According to a myth, Lesvos a hero from Thessali, son of king Lapithes and grandson of Aeolus, married Mithymna and gave her name to the city. Another myth refers to Mithymna as the wife of Lepetymnos, a local hero of antiquity who gave the mountain of the area his name.

Archaeological excavation has reviled that Mithymna has probably been inhabited since late Neolithic Times. According to existing sources, Mithymna was founded in between 1140 and 1053BC. Since the 8th century BC together with Mitylene were the most powerful cities of the island. Thucidedes, the great historian, calls the area belonging to Mithymna “Methymnaeon Chora” (The Country of Mithymna) because it spread from Petra to the mountainous area of Lepetymnos and Mandamados.

Cemetery of the Archaic Period at the entrance of Molivos (Mithymna)

In Archaic Period Mithymna becomes the second most important city of Lesvos after Mitylene, with a great military and navy force and thriving small industries, trade and culture. Mithymnaeans imported metal for their industries, grain and luxury goods while they exported pottery, handicraft objects and their exquisite wines. They formed connections with Thrace, the Hellispondos Sea areas and Troja. In the 8th century BC they settled in Asia Minor. One of their settlements was Assos according to Historian Mirsylos. In 480BC Mithymna got its own coins. The competition between Mitylene and Mithymna peaked in the 7th and 6th centuries BC.

Mithymna was liberated from the Persians after their defeat at Michali sea battle. Then it joined the A΄Athenian Alliance. During the Peloponnesian War the city allied with Athens. In 428BC, apart from Mithymna, all the other cities of Lesvos defected from the Athenian Alliance. In 406BC Kallikratidas, a Spartan General, conquered Mithymna and imposed an oligarchic regiment. In 386BC the city signed in the Andalcithia Truce and became autonomous. In 377BC Mithymna joined the B΄Athenian Alliance. In 338BC the city helped Phillip of Macedonia in his Hellenic Antepersian Alliance in Corinth and when Persians took over Mithymna in 333BC Alexander the Great and his troops liberated the city, which came under their protection.

After Alexander’s death Lesvos came under the authority of the Ptolemies until 167BC when the island was conquered by the Romans, who destroyed Andissa and annexed its area to Mithymna. Mithymna’s territory became 631 sq.Km . In 120BC Mithymna capitulated to Rome. During the Roman Period Mithymna became autonomous and its economy thrived.

During the Byzantine period Saracen pirates, the Slavs, the Russians and the Turks, continuously attacked Mithymna. The population of the city decreased dramatically.
Between 1355 and 1462 the Island of Lesvos was given to the Genoese family of Gatelousi as dowry under the condition they protected its cities. Mithymna became an important trade center and a thriving harbour since it was used for the family’s shipping of products to the Eastern counties of the Byzantine Empire.

After the Turkish invasion and the elimination of the local resistance Molivos became the Turkish military and commanding center of North Lesvos. Arable land was confiscated, extremely harsh taxes were enforced on people and the Pasha of Mitylene monopolized the trade of Olive Oil. During the 18th century the Turkish Empire was on the decline and trade was gradually taken over by the Greeks. The influence of Molivos’ people spread to the coast of Asia Minor where they started cultivating big pieces of arable land. In 1808 Molivos’ first school was founded while in 1857 K. Michaelidis, father of the author Argiris Eftaliotis, opened the first private school. In the beginning of the 20th century Molivos became an important trading and manufacturing center, which served not only the Northern Part of Lesvos but the Asian Minor coast as well. The island was liberated from the Turks in 1912. However, the destruction of Asia Minor Greek Communities in 1922 was a great blow to the local economy. The boarders with Turkey were shut and there was an exchange of population bringing many refugees on the island. Lesvos became officially part of the Greek State in 1923.