Molyvos Castle

  1. The Castle of Molyvos: One of the Best-Preserved Castles in Greece
  2. General Information
        2.1  History
        2.2  Architectural Features
        2.3  Events Hosted in the Castle of Molyvos
        2.4  Opening Times

The Castle of Molyvos: One of the Best-Preserved Castles in Greece

Make your way through the winding alleys of Molyvos, follow the steady incline and continue the ascent towards Molyvos (or ‘Mythimna’) Castle. For centuries, the Castle of Molyvos has been gracing the town’s signature medieval splendor with its imposing size, its structure that, for centuries, has withstood the passage of time, and strong walls of red and brown stone. While the exact date of its construction is yet to be pinpointed, the Castle of Molyvos remains one of the best-preserved, and best-loved, attractions in the Eastern Mediterranean. If you find yourself in the old town of Molyvos, it is unlikely you will be able to resist finding your way up the pine-clad hill and inside the perimeter of the Castle. Perched high above the town, and as omnipresent in the skyline of Molyvos as it is seemingly omniscient of activity in the town and harbor below, the Castle of Molyvos is an ideal spot from which to savor a wonderful summer sunset or take in some remarkable Aegean views.

General Information


The Castle of Molyvos has changed hands any number of times, each of its series of occupants making renovations or additions to the original structure. The Castle of red and brown trachyte passed to the line of the Gateluzzi in the 14th century AD, when a first phase of renovations took place. It was then renovated once more in the course of the Ottoman occupation of Lesvos (between 1462 and 1912) and it is believed that the last series of renovations ended in the 18th century AD. While it is unknown exactly when the original structure was constructed, historians speculate that the Castle was built in the 13th century, primarily to protect the population within from the many invaders determined to occupy Molyvos city.

The history of Molyvos and that of its best-known attraction go hand-in-hand. The Castle of Molyvos would have replaced the town’s ancient Acropolis and acted to protect the population within its walls. Already by the early 14th century AD, it had been assailed and ransacked by Arab (821-824), Saracen (851,1055), Russian (864, 1027, 1089), Venetian (1128) and Catalan (end 13th century AD) armies. Molyvos (and the whole of Lesvos) was handed by the Crusaders over to Baldwin of Flanders the Second in 1204 and did not become Byzantine territory until 1287. In 1334, Domenico Catteneo unsuccessfully attempted to siege Molyvos. While no reference is made to the precise construction-date of the Castle, historical records of the attack do make reference to the Castle of Molyvos.

The Castle passed to the Genoese line of the Gateluzzi in 1355, when the entire island of Lesvos was gifted to Francesco Gateluzzi - the brother-in-law of Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Paleologos - as his dowry. While historians speculate that the Castle would have been in rather poor condition when it was passed on to Gateluzzi, his reign over the island marked a peaceful era for both Lesvos and Molyvos and the Castle’s initial renovation took place in the year 1373. In 1462, the year when Lesvos became occupied by the Ottoman Empire, a large number of Ottomans settled in Molyvos. A second phase of renovation work on the Castle commenced in the course of the Ottoman occupation of the island. By 1739, the Castle was flourishing. Inhabited exclusively by Ottomans, it was closely guarded by the Ottoman Army.

The Castle entered a gradual phase of decline in the mid-18th century. By 1789, it was already in a state of disrepair. The restorations of 1976, 1981, 1993 and 2008 resulted in the Castle that, to this day, presides over Molyvos.

Architectural Features

Approach Molyvos and take a glance at the pine-clad hill in the heart of the old medieval city. The Castle of Molyvos takes pride of place atop Molyvos hill and - especially in the evening, when the structure is illuminated and stands out against the dark backdrop of the night sky - is breathtaking to behold. The second largest Castle on Lesvos (second only to the Castle of Mytilene, the island’s capital), it can be accessed by crossing three consecutive gates. Of these, the Castle’s main, Ottoman entrance gate was built out of robust wood and clad in metal sheeting.

The Castle is made up of ten towers and an equal number of strong curtain walls, two buttresses, the acropolis on its northeastern side, five Ottoman buildings (two of which are in ruins) and two antemurals for defending sections of the Castle that would have been more easily accessed by invading troops. A large, Byzantine water-storage tank, two Ottoman structures (one of them domed), and two army barracks comprise the structures to be discovered in the Castle’s inner perimeter.

Events Hosted in the Castle of Molyvos

A variety of cultural events takes place within its bailey and draws a large number of visitors to Molyvos Castle. If you find yourself in the region, do ascend the hill to the Castle and attend one of the exhibitions, plays and concerts held here in the summer months.

Opening Times

To have an experience of the timeless splendor of this major attraction of Molyvos, come to the Castle from 08:00 am and 20:00 pm between the 10th April and the 10th of October. Tickets are priced at 2.00 euros (full ticket, 1.00 euro concessions are also available).

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