Greek Authorities to Restore Ottoman Mosque on Lesvos



Mytilene’s 1825 Yeni Mosque

A ruined mosque on the Greek island of Lesvos is to be restored as part of a €1.2-million ($1.4 million) program of renovation works.

Yeni Mosque (from the Turkish ‘yeni camii’ or ‘new mosque’) north of modern-day Mytilene was built in 1825 to serve the island’s considerable Muslim population which lived there under the Ottoman occupation.

Lesvos’ Ephorate of Antiquities is behind the planned restoration work, which follows the Ministry of Culture’s designation of the mosque as a preservable building in 1981.

However, despite being listed by the government, years of inaction followed, leading to the mosque on Ermou Street falling into disrepair.

Yeni Mosque is the oldest of its kind on the island and not only includes a place of worship, but also a madrasa (Muslim college) and a mufti’s residence. Its minaret was built using special stone from nearby Turkey.

After Ottoman rule ended and the 1920s population exchange between Greece and Turkey took place, the Muslim community departed and the mosque was allowed to fall into ruin.

However, around 35 volunteers undertook a major cleaning operation in 2011, and the town’s mayor previously pledged to restore the mosque using EU funds.

The Ephorate of Antiquities of Lesvos is also working on repairing or preserving other post-Byzantine buildings on the island, such as churches and monasteries, which were affected by 2017’s earthquake.