Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Wind of change

The castle in Mytilini has a long history. The main building (the upper castle) was built in Byzantine time, they think it even was built upon a much older acropolis. In the 14th century for some hundred years Lesvos was under the rules of the Italian family Gateluzzi that took as well the castle in Mytilini as that in Molyvos as their property. They renovated it and built the ‘Middle Castle’. In the 18th century, when Lesvos was ruled by the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish enlarged the castle to the northwest, by building the ‘lower castle’.

In 1912 Lesvos shook off its occupiers and nobody cared about the castle anymore. They even used stones from the castle to build new houses they needed for the many refugees that came from the Ottoman Empire. The castle declined, as well because it turned into the homes of the army.

Nowadays the Greeks know better and take care about their old treasures, even that Italians and Turkish helped building it. Archaeological services are digging inside of the castle and partly the castle has been renovated. In the summer on the large fields inside the long walls there are cultural festivities like theatre plays and concerts.

Organizing a concert with the internationally known German group ‘The Scorpions’ however was a little bit too much for the archaeological service of Lesvos. It seems that the manager and the members of the Scorpions became fond of Lesvos and they asked for a concert in the castle of Mytilini. Then the archaeological service had bad dreams about ten thousands of fans who destroyed ‘their’ castle.

The castle however stands like a rock. It is known as the biggest and strongest castle in the whole of the North Aegean See. Many people pleaded for the concert, because this worldwide known band can bring many visitors to the island, people who otherwise would never visit Lesvos. And it is a big opportunity in economical bad times like we have now.

The predictions of how many tourists will visit Lesvos this summer vary. In a local paper I read that the booking of the first tourist group, the birdwatchers, have gone down with 50 %. A Dutch tour operator however says that the bookings for this summer are the same as last year, it might be even more.

Off course a lot depends on the number of tourists that visit the island this year. Do not forget that tourism here is mainly organized by small family businesses. In the winter they harvest their olives, they have their sheep and goats and go for chorta. But their main income has to be earned in the summer with their little hotels, apartments, shops or restaurants, where all members of the family work.

The importance of a concert of a worldwide known band that will attract thousands of people was the main talk in the discussion that took months and even involved the Greek Minister of Culture. At last the archaeological service of Lesvos lost: The Scorpions are allowed to come! A first date is the third of September. But mind you, this date can be changed to one in the beginning of July, because the 6th of July The Scorpions are expected in Athens at the ‘Scorpions festival’. So the fans have to wait a little before booking their flights until the date is confirmed. I do not want to get the blame when people booked to see The Scorpions and then the date of the concert got changed. Just watch their site for their concert dates: www.the-scorpions.com

In 1965 ‘The Scorpions’ was started up by Rudolf Schenker. Their first international hit was ‘Rock You like a Hurricane’ from their album ‘Love at first Sting’. In 1990 they got a mega-hit with ‘Wind of Change’.

It may seem to be a funny combination: a metal/hard rock band playing in an old castle. But first of all they have their name: scorpions do love old stones and I am sure that the castle of Mytilini is already full of scorpions. Secondly: The castle is build for defending purposes. There were certainly more tough and strong soldiers than that there were women strolling the walls. Especially the Turkish made the castle into a defence fort to resist the attacks of the pirates. The building has a reservoir under the ground and many storerooms and everything seem so that the population could have a safe shelter in the castle. If you were to organize a concert for those hard fighting soldiers in that time, would that not be a hard rock concert so that the soldiers could get crazy for one night, and some emotional ballad in between? Just like The Scorpions do!

Look how they played ‘Wind of change’ in Moscow. Greece needs such a song. Look at the still lasting blockades of some frontiers, the new local terrorist group with their bomb attacks that strike Athens with panic and finally the escape from prison by helicopter of two heavy criminals who escaped years before the same way and now make again fools of the Greek government...

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