The Temple of Meson - A Historical Monument in Central Lesvos
- Agia Paraskevi in Lesvos Agia Paraskevi in Lesvos
- Temple of Meson in Agia Paraskevi of Lesvos Temple of Meson in Agia Paraskevi of Lesvos
Set off from the village of Agia Paraskevi and seek out the location of Meson (meaning ‘center’) in the geographical heart of the island. A dirt track some 700 meters in length will lead you to the early Christian church of Meson in the position of Koukala (or Kokkala, meaning ‘bones’) - the site is inextricable from political life in the island in the years between 200 and 197 BC and, based on evidence unearthed by German archaeologist R. Koldewey, was built in close proximity to an Ionian temple of the 4th century BC.
Τhe Ionian temple of Meson was dedicated to the gods Zeus, Hera and Dionysus and would have acted as a meeting point for the entirety of Lesvian cities. With the spread of Christianity, an early Christian basilica was constructed in the eastern side of the temple and, in the Byzantine era, a chapel dedicated to Taxiarchis (the Archangel Michael) was erected in order to replace the original early Christian church.
If the Ionian temple of Meson began to decay in the 3rd-4th centuries and was later inundated by the Kalami stream, the Christian basilica of Meson has mystified experts, who are yet to pinpoint its exact date of construction. While evidence consisting mainly of coins found in the area points to the fact that the early Christian church was in use as early as the 10th century AD, it is unknown exactly when it was originally constructed.
A smaller, post-Byzantine temple dedicated to the Archangel Michael was erected in the center of the basilica and, as historical records show, was already in existence in the 17th century AD. It is believed both the ancient Ionian temple and the early Christian basilica were used to source materials for its construction. According to speculation by experts, this small temple of Taxiarchis, as the Archangel is locally called, would have acted as the cemetery church of the medieval settlement of Meson (just 300 meters away from the church).
From the early Christian basilica, only a polygonal arch and several architectural elements such as columns and their capitals have survived the passage of time. The sole remnants of the basilica, they are still present onsite.
To make the most of the area’s immense archaeological interest, do make the trip to the early Christian temple of Meson, wander around the marshes and, east of Agia Paraskevi, seek out the area of ‘Mili’ (Mills) just three kilometers away from the village. The area is traversed by Mylopotamos river, which makes it amazingly green, and here you may walk around the ruins of four old water mills. A number of other archaeological sites are located in the vicinity of the village, where one may visit the ancient temple of Klopedi (6th century BC). Believed to have been dedicated to the god Apollo, it is the only Aeolian building to have been discovered in Greece.