Lesvos or Mytilini is a Greek island located in the NE Aegean Sea, very close to Turkish western coasts. It has an area of 1,632 square kilometers with a coastline reaching the 320 kilometres, which are making it the third largest island in Greece. It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait and in late Palaeolithic/Mesolithic times it is believed that it was joined to the Anatolian mainland before the end of the last Ice Age.
It has become famous as the birthplace of the ancient Greek poet Sappho. Lesvos is also known for its ouzo (an anise-flavored liqueur), the Petrified Forest and the production of tin sardines and anchovies.
Lesvos is a separate regional unit of the North Aegean region, and is one of five governing islands within it. The capital of the North Aegean Region is Mytilene.
The population of Lesvos is approximately 86,000, a third of whom live in its capital Mytilene, in the south-eastern part of the island. The remaining population is split in small towns and villages. The largest between them are Plomari, Kalloni, the Gera Villages, Agiassos, Eresos, and Molyvos (the ancient Mythimna).
According to later researches Mytilene was found on the 11th century BC by the family of Penthilidae, who arrived from Thessaly and ruled the city-state until a popular revolt (590–580 BC) led by Pittacus of Mytilene who ended their rule. In fact, the archaeological and linguistic record may indicate a late Iron Age arrival of Greek settlers, although references in Late Bronze Age Hittite archives indicate a likely Greek presence then.
The name Mytilini itself seems to be of Hittite origin. According to Homer's Iliad, however, Lesvos was part of the kingdom of Priam in what is now Turkey. Much work remains to be done to determine just what was happening and when. In the Middle Ages, it was under Byzantine and then Genoese rule. Lesvos was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1462. The Ottomans then ruled the island until the First Balkan War in 1912, when it became part of the Kingdom of Greece.
An excellent way to see the island is to divide it into sections.
So far, Lesvos has managed to keep package and mass forms of tourism at bay. And while it is hardly lacking in visitors, it still remains largely untouched, offering hidden treasures to those who seek them out. In the city of Mytilene and most other tourist spots, you’ll find a range of outstanding accommodations with small and mid-sized hotels to suite every budget. In addition, there are modern stylish hotels and old mansions that have been converted into atmospheric guest houses, offering quality year-round hospitality.
The inland regions, densely wooded with pines or endless olive trees, are ideal for mountain biking and trekking.
A visit to the following spots is highly suggested: Mytilene, Molyvos, Petra or Anaxos, Kalloni, Plomari and then Eressos or Sigri with the Fortified Forest.
Every village has something different to offer and visitors will encounter many local dialects, known as dopiolalies, along with different customs and traditions.
Not to be missed
Venetian fortresses and abandoned monuments from bygone eras imperiously line the country roads that wind through farms, gardens and orchards, indelibly engraving themselves on the visitor’s memory like magical interludes in time.
The transitions in the landscape are spectacular. Mountains, scrub lands, ravines, springs, cultivated fields, pine forests, chestnut and olive groves, deserted watermills, picturesque wooden bridges, unexplored caves and, right beside them, solitary little chapels, stately monasteries, Roman aqueducts, coves tranquil as lakes, and unique beaches with crystal-clear water will take your breath away.
Green mountains with broad plateaus and deep gorges coexist in harmony with pine-covered slopes, majestic firs, and the rugged barren, almost mystical volcanic landscapes.
The looming cliffs and steep mountains of Olympos, Ordymnos and Lepetymnos are only a stride away from coastal fishing villages and hillside settlements.
The vast sandy beaches and tiny picturesque leeward coves, which remain tranquil even in the heart of the summer, offer relaxation, sunbathing, paddle ball, yoga, and of course thrilling sunsets.
Whatever you do, be sure to take some nature-loving hikes through amazing gorges and along shady trails. And then bathe in the island’s thermal springs, to revive yourself you after your meanderings along the cobbled paths and narrow alleyways of the island’s picturesque.
LESVOS IS AN ISLAND FOR ALL SESSIONS:
Water sports, romantic seashores, tranquil coves, lounging in cult cafés and trendy eateries, frenzied clubbing, and lots of ouzo and mezes.
Sport & Nature
ater sports, romantic seashores, tranquil coves, lounging in cult cafés and trendy eateries, frenzied clubbing, and lots of ouzo and mezes.
Many coastal bars and discos are spreaded all over the island.
Culture and History
• The island is inhabited as of 3300 BC
• According to Homer, it is attacked repeatedly by the Achaeans over the course of the Trojan War (12th or 13th century BC)
• The Aeolians settle there in the 10th century BC
• During Archaic Times (7th-6th centuries BC) under Pittacus (589-579 BC), Lesvos and its capital Mytilene become an important commercial and cultural center
• 527-479 BC, the island falls into Persian hands
• Lesvos joins the Achaean League
• It is ruled in succession by the Macedonians, the Ptolemys, the Pontic king Mithridates (88-79 BC) and the Romans
• During the Byzantine Period it is invaded by the Slavs, Saracens and the Catalans
• Levos becomes part of the Latin Empire of Constantinople (1204-1247)
• 1354. Byzantine emperor Michael Palaeologus turns the island over to the Genovese in exchange for their assistance in reclaiming the Byzantine Empire from Frankish rule (1261)
• 1462. Lesvos is conquered by the Turks
• 1912. It is liberated from the Turks and incorporated into the Modern Greek State
• 1922. Ten years later, the Smyrna (Izmir) disaster brings a flood of refugees to the island after a formal population exchange with Turkey