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Molivos, Lesvos Island, Greece: A Brief History and Photo Tour

Arriving in Molivos (also known as Mithymna or Molyvos) I’m immediately enchanted by this harbor village with a castle on a hill.  What makes it extra fun is the surprise.  Drawn by a volunteer position, I had no idea I was going to the cultural tourism center of Lesvos Island, Greece, made famous by it’s ancient architecture, the castle of Molivos, deep and riveting history, and breathtaking beauty.  Lucky strike.

With a population of just 1500 people and it’s diminutive size, it’s possible to know Molivos after a good, albeit hilly, walk.

Walking into Town

Walking into the Village of Molivos, Lesvos Island, Greece

Due to it’s proximity to Asia Minor and it’s strategic location, Molivos has been a power point for millennia, having been invaded and occupied by Spartans, Athenians, Macedonians, Persians, Romans, the Ottomans, and now Greeks.  It’s ancient harbor sits across from the ancient city of Troy.  Prior to tourism, Molivos’ primary industries were grape and olive growing, sheep production, and fishing.  It’s only been in the past few decades that Molivos has drawn tourists (especially artists, writers and romantics) seeking a quiet retreat steeped in history.

The current Castle of Molivos was built in the 13th century on the foundations of a castle concurred by Achilles during the Trojan War.  The vertical walk to the castle is worth it, rewarding the walker with forever views of the Aegean and neighboring Turkey.

Octopus - Molivos

Octopus – Molivos, Greece

Refugees are not new to Molivos.  In fact, many of those who live here have grandparents who were refugees after the Greek-Turkish war in 1922-23.  This partially accounts for the incredible hospitality and compassion many locals have shown towards the current refugees.  With Turkey just across the water, this tiny village shouldered an immense burden, alone for many months, because of a lack of government help and lack of volunteers for the first six months of the crisis.

In 2015, tens-of-thousands passed through this tiny village.  Refugees arrived wet, sick, exhausted and sometimes deceased and the community worked tirelessly to help as they could.  The outstanding Starfish Foundation, a charity based at the harbor, grew out of this crisis and now organizes international volunteers like myself.  Sadly, the community has suffered along with the refugees.  Tourism is down.

If you’re seeking a slow-paced location to retreat and be romanced by village life amongst natural and man-made beauty, this is it.  Molivos is spectacular!  The good people of Molivos, and of Greece in general, deserve your tourism as a reward for their humanitarian efforts. 

Now, more than ever, is a great time to visit Molivos, Greece.  See for yourself.


A Walk Through Molivos, Lesvos, Greece (click to view);

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