Castles of Greece


Kalloni, Lesbos, North Aegean

Palaiokastro of Kalloni

or Ancient Arisvi  
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Palaiokastro of Kalloni
On a low trapezoidal hill northeast of Kalloni, Lesbos island
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
North Aegean
Municipality > Town:
City of Lesbos
• Kalloni
Elevation ≈ 70 m 
(Relative Height≈50 m)
Time of Construction   Origin
before 14th cent.  
Castle Type   Condition
Ancient Castle  
In Ruins

During the late Byzantine period Kalloni was a prosperous town (according to a Byzantine historian) the castle of which was on a hill named “Palaiokastro” (old castle) 1.5km northeast of modern Kalloni

In antiquity the hill was the acropolis of the ancient city Arisvi or Arisbe. This city was destroyed in the 5th century BC by the neighboring city-state of Mythimna.


It is not known if Arisvi was inhabited in the Roman or the early Byzantine periods. Probably it was, but must have been without importance.

In late Byzantine period “Kalloni” appears in historical sources as the name of the region. It is not clear if there was also a village with this name. The origin of the name is not known either but it could be a beautification of the very common Latin name Colonia (meaning colony) which does not sound very well in Greek (while Kalloni means beauty)

The site in Paliokastro gave many findings from the ancient period while the remains of the walls show that they were built in the Byzantine period prior to the arrival of the Genoan lords in Lesvos (i.e. before 14th century).

The historian Ioannis Cantacuzenos verifies the existence of the castle in Kalloni since 1334 while another Byzantine scholar, Laonikos Chalkokondylis, reporting the destruction of Kalloni by the Turks, refers to it as a prosperous city unil then (1445).

The town of old Kalloni and its castle were destroyed by the Turks in 1445. However, a document from a nearby monastery reports that Palaiokastro was still inhabited in 1606 under the Turkish name Kalinia hisar. In the Ottoman period the people move gradually to the location of the modern village, as the necessity for dwelling in castles had been diminished.


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