Ancient Antissa—generally marked as ‘Ovriokastro' on maps—commands this wide stretch of the north coast, with sight-lines as far as the eastern extremity at Molyvos. The ancient city occupied a headland which projects between two wide beaches, which some traditions hold to be the stretch of shore on which the head and the lyre of Orpheus were washed up. According to the ancient essayist, Lucian, a cave dedicated to Dionysos in the hills to the west of the road from Antissa to Gavathás was the place where the enshrined head subsequently pronounced accurate oracles—until it was summarily silenced by Apollo. Some say the head was still singing; others that his spirit still sings in the Elysian Fields; some say that his lyre became a constellation; others that it still played when the wind blew through its strings. Terpander the most famous player of the seven-stringed cithara or lyre, and considered by many the (historic) father of music in the Greek world was born in Antissa in the early 7th century BC. To him is also attributed the introduction of the Mixolydian mode.
The remains most visible today at Antissa are of the ruined Genoese castle of the Gattilusi, whose walls gird the whole of the promontory; inside is an inner enceinte which, in parts, incorporates the ancient acropolis fortifications, especially on the west side. These are in isodomic masonry typical of Hellenistic construction. Excavations by the British School in 1931, revealed that the site was occupied from the Bronze Age right through until its destruction by the Romans in 166 BC on the pretext of its links with Antiochus IV and for its part in harbouring the Macedonian admiral, Antinora. The town must have extended over the flat area inland. Beside the chapel of Aghia Barbara to the south are a couple of antique columns and a capital: otherwise little that is ancient remains on the surface, although the site is rewarding for its natural beauty. In the area of Katápetros, south of the large, island-like peninsula to the east, were the principal quarries in Antiquity for the characteristic red and magenta trachytic stone of Lesbos.Wikidata ID: Q583490
Info: McGilchrist's Greek Islands
(From McGilchrist’s Greek Islands, © Nigel McGilchrist 2010, excerpted with his gracious permission. Click for the books)