Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Castle of Methymna

The Castle in the small town of Methymna, on the island of Lesvos, is the second largest and most significant castle on the Greek island, after the one in the capital city of the island – Mytilene. Built upon the remains of ancient walls, in order to repel attacks by Franks and Turks, it is a robust monument of red and brown trachyte. Its present aspect is mainly the work of the Gatelusi. Only the cistern survives from the Early Byzantine phase. Lesbos passed into the possession of the Genoese Gatelusi family in 1355, by which time the Castle seems to have been destroyed, since the new rulers rebuilt it. The use of pseudo-isodomic masonry with large ashlar blocks, characteristic of the Gatelusi’sbuilding activity, is observed in the greater part of the Fortress of Methymna. In 1462, after the fall of Lesbos to Mohamed II, the Ottomans hastily embarked on reconstruction works. On the southwest side there is a redoubt and access to the Castle was via three gateways. The outer entrance is an Ottoman construction with pointed arch and has an inscription incorporated in the wall.

Due to developments in fortification architecture, necessitated by the use of gunpowder, cannon emplacements were constructed in the first half of the sixteenth century. In the first half of the seventeenth century a second enceinte was raised with an advance line of defence. The Castle’s defensive system included cannon embrasures only on the south and the west side of the walls, as artillery weaponry was essential for the protection of the settlement and the harbour entrance. The positions of the towers bear witness to this fact. After the 1867 earthquake the Castle was abandoned completely. 

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