Lesvos Island

Communication & Travel

Location

The Island of Lesvos lies in the far east of the  Aegean Sea, facing the Turkish coast (Gulf of Edremit) from the north and east. At the narrowest point, the strait is about 5,5km wide. Lesvos is the third largest of the islands in Greece behind Crete and Evia. Its shape is roughly triangular, but it is deeply intruded by the gulfs of Kalloni, with an entry on the southern coast and of Gera, in the southeast.

History

The island was settled by the Pelasgians in 1507 BC who were followed by the Achaeans in 1393 BC and by the Aeolians around 1100 BC. During the 7th century BC, the island became a centre of artistic and philosophical achievement and a great maritime power. In the 6th century BC, Lesvos was conquered by the Persians. In 479 BC, it was captured by the Athenians and became a member of the Delian League. In 334 BC, the island became a part of the Macedonian Empire and, after the death of Alexander the Great, was under the rule of the Ptolemies.

In 88 BC, the Romans took Lesvos which became a part of the Roman Empire. After the fall of the empire, Saracen and Latins successively occupied the island which finally became a part of Byzantium in 1261. In 1354, Lesvos fell under the rule of the Genoese which lasted until 1460, when they were replaced by the Ottomans. In this period, two

strong castles were constructed on the island, the Castle of Mytilene and the Castle of Molyvos.

Despite the Turkish slavery, the inhabitants of Lesvos cultivated their faith and hope for freedom. The monasteries and churches were turned into intellectual and revolutionary centres and secret schools were founded. fleet. The Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1923, stated the union of the island with the rest of Greece.

Another important fact in the history of Lesvos was the year 1922, when the refugees of Asia Minor came to the island and gave a new economical and cultural flourishment to the local society.

Lesvos was conquered for a last time by the Germans during World War II and was set free on the 10th of September 1944.

Climate & Weather

The island has a mild Mediterranean climate. The mean  annual temperature is 18 C (64 F), and the mean annual rainfall is 750mm (30 in).

Its exceptional sunshine makes it one of the sunniest islands in the Aegean Sea. Snow and very low temperatures are rare.

Winter is mild and short with a lot of rain, summer is hot with only a few rainfalls.

The best time to travel for active travelers is from

April to June and September to the beginning of November. In the summer months it gets very hot, so it is  ideal for sun lovers.

Landscape

Lesvos has a total area of about 1630 sq km, a coastline of 320 The island has no major rivers, nor lakes, but many waterfalls and streams lying in the northern part of the island.

The highest mountain range is called Lepetymno, lying in the northern part of the island, rising at an altitude of 968 metres. The other high picks of Lesvos are Mount Olympos (967 metres) and Mount Psilokoudouno (914 metres).

Luxurious vegetation is covering Lesvos, such as numerous olive trees, verdant plains, fruit trees and vineyards.

The rich fauna of the island is famous even outside the Greek borders and thousands of visitors are coming to see the various rare species of birds seeking refuge on Lesvos or the monk seals living in the caves of Skala, in Eressos. which constitute the secondary economical activities.

The rich and fertile soil of Lesvos gives birth to abundant olive groves from where the famous and excellent olive oil is produced.

The most beautiful towns & villages

MYTILINI

Mytilene is the capital and main port of Lesvos, and is located on the eastern coast of the island, opposite the shores of Turkey. It is built amphitheatrically on seven hills and is composed of various areas, old neighbourhoods andpicturesque suburbs. Mytilene is the chair of the Prefecture of Lesvos as well as the artistic, commercial and industrial centre of the island. It has a population of about 25,000 inhabitants, and is a beautiful town full of superb mansions, colourful houses, squares, impressive churches and pleasant cafes. Mytilene has every thing to offer in terms of accommodations and entertainment.

MOLIVOS

The official name of this village is Mithymna, which is its ancient name, but locals refer to it as Molivos. It is located on the northern part of Lesvos and is a traditional place, attracting thousands of visitors with its beauty.

A well-preserved Byzantine castle is overlooking Mithymna, proudly standing on the top of a hill.

Fine accommodations, taverns, cafes and any kind of entertainment can be found in this lovely village.

PETRA

The village of Petra is located just 5km from Molivos It is built on the beautiful sandy beach and around the famous rock in the center. On the top of the rock is situated the church of “Sweet Kissing” Mary Virgin, built in 1747. Outside the bay of Petra is the little islands of St George, which offers one of the most beautiful sunsets visitor has to see. Petra offers any entertainment tourists are looking for.

SKALA SIKAMINIA

Skala Sikaminia is a pretty little fishing harbour found on the

north coast of Lesvos.

The harbour at Skala Sikaminia is lined with attractive tavernas and charming cafes, making this a fine place to visit for a leisurely lunch. On a small rock overlooking the Skala Sikaminia harbour is the tiny and much photographed church of Panayia Gorgona – The Virgin Mary Mermaid.

If you walk along the little hill behind the village you will find a nice pebble beach. Many visitors arrive in Skala Sikaminia by boat from Molyvos.

SKALA KALLONIS

The village of Skala Kalonnis is an authentic Greek fishermans village situated in the Bay of Kalloni in the south of Lesbos island. The village has a port and a beach and it is the tourist center of Kalloni. The water is shallow and almost never rough, and the beaches are very sandy and have all the facilities. There are several restaurants along the shore and in the town square, along with supermarkets, hotels, and tourist shops. The village is a center for sardine fishing and the fishing fleet is colorful. The bay of Kaloni is also a great place for wind-surfing.

AGIASSOS

The village of Agiassos has about 3000 inhabitants and lies west of Mytilene. It is one of the most picturesque and beautiful villages of Lesvos, since it is nestled in the verdant slopes of Mount Olimbos. The inhabitants of the village are keeping their traditions and customs, preserving the local colours of Agiassos. The village is famous for its fine potteries and wood carvings which can be bought from its popular art shops. The narrow alleys, the flowered balconies and the houses with impressive wooden “Turkish style” balconies form a superb scenery.

SIGRI

Sigri is a traditional coastal settlement and is located at the west coast of the island, 90km northwest of Mytilene. Most of the houses are in a good state with traditional architecture and vivid colors.

Sigri has a lovely port where fishing boats moor in summer and create a romantic atmopshere. Next to the port there is the Turkish castle, built in the 17th century by Souleiman Pasa who also took the initiative to build a school, a mosque and a water-tower. Sigri has a couple of restaurants, and several churches from the Byzantine times, where only one is open to the public. There are many beaches in the region, wellmaintained with no tourist facilities however, except from the main beach located close to the port.

MANDAMADOS

Madamados is a traditional village located on the northeast of Lesvos, 36 km northwest of Mytilene. It is known for its pottery craft as well as honey, virgin olive oil and cheese (there are nine workshops of pottery still active and several laboratories for the production of excellent quality cheese-making products).  The village is popular for its traditional architecture, the quaint narrow streets and the cobbled roads.

The village is considered the religious center of the island, famous for the Monastery of Taxiarches where an icon of Archangel Michael has been found.

Sightseeing

THE PETRIFIED FOREST

This forest, 12 km from Sigri, is a rare natural site and was petrified because of the intense volcanic activity of the area. In 1985, it was officially declared a natural monument.

MONASTERY LIMONOS

This monastery was founded in 1523 and was used as a spiritual centre during the Ottoman occupation. The large halls of the monastery have been turned into an interesting museum, housing various treasures and marvels.

The monastery also houses a rich library with more than 15,000 documents and 450 manuscripts that date from the 9th and 19th century. Women are not allowed to enter the monastery.

THE CASTLE OF MYTILINI

The castle located on the north side of Mytilene overlooking the city is one of the largest in the eastern Mediterranean. It’s foundations were laid during the time of Justinian on the ruins of an even older fortification which can still be seen in sections of the walls. It has been used and rebuilt by the Romans, Byzantines, Venetians and the Turks and is now used in the summer for cultural events. There is a Roman or Byzantine reservoir with a 4,000 cubic meter capacity. There are also underground tunnels which cover a large area beneath the castle and the hill.

THE CASTLE OF MOLIVOS

The castle that crowns the heights of the town is from

Byzantine times and was later repaired by Francesco Gattelusi. In terms of majesty and size it is the second most impressive on the island. During the summer months it is used for concerts and cultural events.

THE TEMPLE OF MESA

The temple of Mesa, dedicated to Zeus, Dionysus and Hera, was the center of ancient Lesbian worship and communication. In the early 4th century BC, it was the seat of the League of Lesbian cities. In early Christian times, a funerary basilica was built on top of the temple, which was later supplanted by a postByzantine church. An enormous quantity of relics, ruins, altars and remains still exist in the area, testifying to the religious life of the Lesbian people who came here to worship at the great temple of Pyrra. Legend also has it that the Apostle Paul came here in 52 AD to preach Christianity to the inhabitants of the island.

THE ROMAN AQUADUCT IN MORIA

One of the most impressive archaeological sites, not to mention engineering feats of antiquity, the Rom. In Roman times the aquaduct supplied Mytilini with water from the springs near Agiassos 26 kilometers away. Called the Kamares, the aquaduct was built of grey marble from Lesvos.

The hot spings of Lesvos

  • The hot springs of Lesvos have been well known since antiquity. They are ideally situated in areas that allow one to enjoy the peaceful surroundings, amazing scenery and the great relaxing and soothing experience. They also offer changing and shower facilities.
  • Polychnitos
  • Gera
  • Thermi
  • Eftalou
  • Karini
  • Lisvori

Entertainment

Lesvos is an island well developed in term of tourism and, as the third largest island of Greece, proposes various places of entertainment and a particularly intense nightlife. It has various cinemas which are located in the capital, Mytilene and in the villages and towns of Agia Paraskevi, Petra, Thermi, Skala Polichnitou and Papades.

Numerous bars playing all kinds of music, piano bars, Greek clubs (exclusively with Greek music) and night clubs can be found mostly in Mytilene and in the villages and resorts of Skala Kalonis, Molivos, Plomari, Sigri, Skala Eressou and Skala Polichnitou. All those places are staying open until morning, providing the possibility to enjoy lively, intense and unforgettable nights.

Every year the island organizes excellent art exhibitions, concerts of rock, jazz and greek music by well-known artists, and performances of traditional Lesvos music by local choruses. The events take place in Mytilene at Georgiadis mansion (Arhontiko Georgiadi), at the Castle Theater, at the Tsarsi Hamam and at the football stadium and in other places, such as at the Castle of Molyvos and in many villages as well.

Transportation

BUSES

The transport hub of Lesvos is located in the capital, Mytilene.

The municipal buses connect the capital of the island to all the surrounding districts.

CARS AND MOTORBIKES

can be rented from numerous places in Mytilene and in Mithymna (or Molivos), Skala Eressou, Kaloni and Prokimea.

TAXI

Taxis can be found in the capital of the island, Mytilene, and in all the main towns and touristy villages or resorts.

 

Lesvos in Black & White

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