Castles of Greece


Mytilini, Lesbos, North Aegean

Castle of Mytilini

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Castle of Mytilini
Mytilini, Lesbos
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
North Aegean
Municipality > Town:
City of Lesbos
• Mytilini
Elevation ≈ 40 m 
Time of Construction   Origin
Early 14th century  
Castle Type   Condition
Relatively Good

The Castle of Mytilene, the capital of Lesvos island, is built around a hill, close to the port. It is one of largest castles of Eastern Mediterranean covering an area of 200,000 sq.meters.


The fortification was formed initially during Byzantine years. It was built on the grounds of the ancient Acropolis.

The first significant modifications to the castle took place during the period of Lesbos dominion of the Genoan Gateluzzi family and more specifically of the ruler Francisco Gateluzzo in the year 1373. Francisco took the island as a dowry in 1355 after marrying the sister of the Byzantine emperor John V.

A terrible earthquake destroyed a big part of the castle in 1384 killing the entire royal famly except one child (Giacomo). Repairs were made after this only in the beginning of the next century.

The Turks captured the castle and the island afte a short but violent siege in 1462, A number of other alterations and additions followed, the most important being that by the Ottomans in 1677, to whom we attribute the lower northern part of the fortification.

The Turkish occupation ended in 1912 when Lesvos became part of the Greek state.

After the liberation, in 1912, the fort was used as military barracks.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

From a morphological point of view, it is separated in the following parts:

• The Acropolis (Upper Castle) situated on the north and highest part of the hill.
• The Main Yard Middle Castle), the biggest part of which was built by the Gateluzzi from Genova and
• The Lowest Yard (Lower Castle or Kato Kastro) in its north-west part, the construction of which is placed in the years of the Turkish domination.

The most important monuments to see in the fortress are: the central western tower, known as the Queen’s Tower, with a dedication plaque bearing Gateluzzi coat of arms (the eagle and the four Bs of the Palaeologi emperors of Byzantium); the Kulé Mosque; the Orta Kapu (Ottoman gate); a Gunpowder Storeroom; a Tekes (Islamic Monastery); an Ottoman Seminary; a Bathhouse; the Fountain; and the Cistern.

The interior of the fortress is being excavated by the Canadian Archeological Institute, which has unearthed buildings from the Archaic and Classical periods as well as remains dating from medieval times. The Middle Fortress contains a number of buildings from the Ottoman period, including the Medreses, the hamam, the hospital and prison, a cesmes, and an unusual type of Cistern.

In 2000, reconstruction began on the Orta Kapú (west-central gate) and the Cistern, and restoration is currently underway on the monument’s interior.

In recent years, a space was created inside the fortress to host summer cultural events.


  • Article by S.Georgiadou in the website ΟΔΥΣΣΕΥΣ - of the Greek Ministry of Culture Castle of Mytilini (Greek only)

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Road map to Castle of Mytilini

Approach to the monument:
Easy access from the city of Mytilini.
Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 8.30-15.00 and May to September 8.00-19.00.
Ticket is required.

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