"Limnos island" Top 5 Page for this destination Limnos Island by StefanosS

Limnos Island Travel Guide: 43 reviews and 87 photos

Alternative spelling:
Limnos, Lemnos

Limnos, the island that emerged from flames and clouds of smoke, is situated in the northeastern part of the Aegean Sea, westwards from the mouth of Dardanelles (ancient Hellispontos). It is about 52 kilometers from Asia Minor, with a unique cultural physiognomy left intact to our days. It occupies an area of 482 sq km and it has population of about 18,000 inhabitants. It is a sizeable agricultural and garrison island whose remoteness and peculiar ferry schedules have until recently protected it from the worst excesses of the tourism trade.

The bays of Bournia and Moudhros, the latter one of the largest and prettiest natural harbours in the Aegean Sea, almost divide Limnos in two. The west of the island is more bare and hilly, rising to 430m above the sea, with abundant basalt and areas of fertile lava soil. The east is low-lying with gently rolling hills, a lush green carpet in the spring that becomes crackling yellow-brown in the summer. The landscape is dotted with fields of grain, quirky scarecrows and beehives and speckled with marshes like the two lakes Alyki and Chortarolimni where flamingos and flocks of rare and migrant birds find shelter, especially in spring. Other areas are occupied by cattle, combine harvesters and vast corn fields. Despite the first impression of a visitor, Limnos is not barren or treeless; it looks bare from afar, however as you get closer green trees and white houses appear. Much of the countryside consists of rolling hills, well vegetated except on their heights, and with substantial clumps of almond, jujube, myrtle, oak, poplar and mulberry trees. The island is, however, quite dry, with most of irrigation water pumped from deep wells, and a limited number of potable springs. Yet various terrapin-haunted creeks bring sand to several long, sandy beaches around the coast, where it's easy to find a stretch to yourself. On the plus side, beaches shelve gently, making them ideal for children and quick to warm up in early summer, with no cool currents except near the river mouths.

According to the mythology, Limnos was the shelter and laboratory of Hephaestos (known to Romans as Vulcan), the smithy god of the fire. When father-god Zeus cast Hephaestos out of the gods' residence on Mount Olympus, Sinties, who according to Homer were the first inhabitants of the island, greeted him and he taught to them his art of iron. According to other sources, on the 5th century BC, the Minies came from Asia Minor and populated the entire island. During that period an important civilization was developed around the cities of Hephaestia, Poliochni and Myrina; the findings of these settlements testify to their prosperity. They improved the art of iron working, taught it to the rest of the Hellenes and their economy flourished. Homer states that during the Trojan War the Limnos inhabitants were in trade with the Achaeans and that they offered hospitality to king Philoktitis who was wounded. In the 11th century BC Pelagic tribes populated the island.

In ancient Greece, the island, because of its volcanic origin, was sacred to Hephaestos who was worshipped on Mount Moschylus, which in ancient times emitted a fiery jet of asphaltic gas. Today Limnos' volcanic past is manifested in its astringent hot springs and the highly sulphuric Lemnian Earth, found near Repanidi village, used from ancient times until recently for healing wounds and stomach aches.

In the Classic ancient Greek Era the people of Limnos fought against Persian invasion but finally the island was conquered. After the Persian wars, Limnos joined the Athenian Alliance c. 500 BC. and followed its governs rule. In this period the name of the island changed to Dipolis, because of the existence of two important cities: Mirina and Hephaestia. Then it passed under Macedonian domination. During Roman Era, the island knew a period of peace and cultural flourishing. The family of the sophist rhetoricians Philostratos lived and achieved fame here. There is not much information about the historical and cultural course of the island during the Byzantine Age.

After the fall (1204) of the Byzantine Empire, Limnos was prey to Saracen piratical invasions and pillaging and suffered through the domination of Navigajosi (a family from Venice). The new Byzantine state, unable to protect liberated Limnos, delivered it to the Genoese family of Gateluzi, who fortified the island and held it until 1464, when it passed again to Venice. The Turks could not conquer the island: each time they laid siege to it, the strong resistance of its inhabitants stopped them. Finally in 1479 the Venetians ceded the island to the Turks, which is when the first waves of emigration began. In the 16th century the island excelled in the sectors of economy, agriculture and culture. During this period Limnos was well populated, the entire island was cultivated and the commercial ports were particularly busy. In 1912 during the First Balkan War the Greek fleet liberated Limnos from the Turks and made Moudros bay a naval base for controlling North Aegean Sea. During the World War I (1914-17), the island became the base of the Allies for the big and long but unsuccessful landing to Kallipolis, in Asia Minor.

Limnos was under the German Occupation from the 25th April 1941 until the 16th October 1944. During the following Civil War, Limnos became an island of exile, which gave new reasons for emigration: the total population of the island decreased more and more.

The strategic location of the island is still important and a large air force is still based on Limnos. For that reason, the island was, for a long time, untouched by mass-tourism.

On an island like Limnos that hardly fits with any Greek island stereotypes, untouched by modern-day tourism, it is very difficult for anyone to distinguish what the 'sights' are. All the elements deserve to be visited: little traditional villages by the sea and their picturesque alleys and houses, the many churches, the lakes and the wonderful pink flamingoes, volcanic petrification, golden sandy beaches, Allies military cemeteries and archeological sites.

Locations on the island:
Myrina
, the capital town
Moudros
Kaspakas
Ai-Yiannis, coastal settlement of Kaspakas
Kotsinas
Thanos - Panaghia Kakaviotissa
Aghios Alexandros - Kaveirio
Hephaestia
Kaminia - Poliochni
Fisini - Aghios Sozon
Kontopouli - Chortarolimni and the flamingos

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:"Limnos, the most friendly of all lands" - Homer
  • Last visit to Limnos Island: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated Nov 17, 2009
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StefanosS

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