Lesvos has several distinct types of buildings:
Stone farmhouses with terracotta roof-tiles and a chimney.
Stone two- or three-story townhouses with tile roofs and a sachnisini (small balcony) usually wooden, constructed in the bagdanti technique.
Chateaux or castles of the prosperous social class, which were the country homes or lodgings during the olive harvest.
The mansions of the urban class, built in Provincial, Bavarian and neoclassical styles, are excellent examples of the eclectic architecture that dominated the city in the last century. These houses had attics, marble ornamentation, sachnisinia (balconies) and glassed in porches, elaborate gardens, marble staircases, painted ceilings, stone tiles, septic tanks, cast iron railings and cantilevers, ornate ironwork, and even statuary.
These buildings were designed and built by the architects Argyris Adalis and Ignatius Vafeiadis (students of Ziller) and can be found both in the city (Kioski, Sourada) and in numerous villages (Molyvos, Petra, Moria, Plomari, and elsewhere).
The island’s temperament is reflected in its flamboyant architectural traditions. The glamorous mansions of the previous century coexist harmoniously with the traditional vernacular settlements, the castles of the Ottoman occupation, the neoclassical and modern buildings as well as the recently built contemporary villas.
Most of these grand houses were the country residences of the island’s wealthy townsfolk. Some have painted decoration on the ceilings and walls executed by local artists such as Vassileios Ithakisios from Akrotiri, a student of Nikiforos Lytras, Maleas and others.
The stone used to construct these mansions was often brought from the Sarmusak quarry in Turkey, located near the entrance to the bay of Ayvalik. Many were also built of volcanic ignimbrite, the famous rock of Mystegna.
Lesvos is also known for its impressive industrial buildings (tanneries, soap factories, olive-oil presses, etc), many of which have been renovated into cultural centers (in Mantamados, Agia Paraskevi, Polichnitos, Plomari and elsewhere).
Fortunately, the inevitable destruction wrought by the siege of concrete and aluminum has been incapable of overwhelming the timeless reigning beauty of this place.
Other architectural features include:
1) The famed Lesbian construction, known from antiquity. You can see an excellent example of this type of structure at the excavations along the main road to Molyvos.
2) Koules, small houses usually on the plains.
3) Damia, small agricultural storehouses, usually in olive orchards, that are used during the olive harvest and for storing tools.
4) Also noteworthy are the ubiquitous kalderimia (cobbled paths), called dosimedes in local dialect.