In the early 20th century, the communal oil press at Agia Paraskevi became known as the ‘People’s Machine’. A novel pioneering initiative, it was the brainchild of a group of small- and medium-sized producers influenced by the prevailing spirit of collectivism. With the financial support of like-minded locals who had moved abroad, they proceeded to construct the mill in 1910 in direct competition with the existing oil presses, which were all privately owned. The press was in use from 1911 to 1967, the proceeds going to support the social and educational work of Agia Paraskevi. It closed in 1967 when, under the dictatorship, most of the members of the community council were arrested.
In 1985, as part of a wider effort to preserve the industrial buildings of Lesvos, the premises were converted into a multi-purpose centre. In 2004, the Agia Paraskevi municipality transferred it to the Piraeus Bank Group Cultural Foundation for the establishment of a Lesvos Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production.
The museum’s objective is to promote the industrial heritage of Lesvos, both in the field of the olive oil industry and in the broader sphere of the development of technology. Agia Paraskevi’s complex has become a ‘museum of itself’, in which all the architectural and mechanical features have been restored to their original state in an exemplary way, typical of the thematic museums created by the foundation. This model presentation is enhanced by digital reenactments of the processing.
In the main building emphasis is given to the three basic stages of olive oil production (crushing of the fruit; compression of the olive pulp, separation of the oil from the water) and to the adjacent flour mill, which functioned in the months when the oil press was not in operation.
The small olive storerooms have been made into exhibits showing moments in the cultivation of olive trees and the processing of olives into oil, with emphasis on the human element.
The museum also contains a multi-purpose space, a cafeteria and a small open-air amphitheatre next to an excellent exhibit of impressive terracotta oil jars.
Closely bound to the local community, used frequently for events organized by the residents, the Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production is one of the island’s gems and among the best of its kind in Greece.
Museum of Industrial Olive Oil Production of Lesvos
From March 1st through to October 15th:
Daily (except Tuesdays) 10 am – 6 pm.
From October 16th through to February 28th:
Daily (except Tuesdays) 10 am – 5 pm.
Closed on: Tuesdays, January 1st, Good Friday (until 12 noon), (Greek Orthodox) Easter Sunday, May 1st, September 14th (local patronal feast), August 15th, December 25th and 26th.
- AddressAgia Paraskevi, Lesvos