Lemnos in the Greek Northern Aegean sea is relatively unknown to tourism, despite its many (over 30) lovely sandy beaches and interesting hilly west side. The main harbour town of Myrina (Kastro) on the West is the major island port and connection to the Greek mainland, with Moudros to the East being the other considerably sized town. The nearby island of Agios Efstratios to the South-west contains a few lovely beaches and the only desert in Europe.
Lemnos has been a very strategic island throughout its existence, with several crucial Greek-Turkish naval battles taking place in its vicinity in the 1800s and also used as the base for the Allied blockade of the Dardanelles during WWII. In antiquity, Lemnos was devoted to Hephaestus, god of metallurgy, and its ancient name Hephaestus’ forge suggests a volcanic past. But the island’s history is much older; the Ouriakos site on the Louri coast near Moudros contains habitations dating back to the 12th millennium BC, probably the oldest in Europe.
Lemnos is also a most productive island and famous for the unique Melipasto traditional sheep’s milk cheese which matures in the sun, is then washed with sea water and eaten with salads, pasta, or cooked as ‘saganakii’ (fried in olive oil with herbs). The island’s productivity made it Constantinople’s granary in the Byzantine empire. Lemnos’s superb thyme honey is just about enough for local consumption and its wine with a strong Muscat flavour is unusually dry.
The small towns and villages of Lemnos feature traditional houses with coloured or whitewashed walls and tiled roofs. The capital Myrina is traditionally attractive, contains several 19th century Neoclassical buildings, but also boasts lively modern bars and nightclubs (area of Avlonas). The Medieval Fortress offers panoramic views of the Aegean sea and Mount Athos and lovely sandy beaches like Plati are within walking distance. Buses to many locations around the island also leave from Myrina. By contrast, Moudros is a quiet fishing village with a large natural harbour and the nearby beaches of Keros and Zemati are excellent for windsurfing during summer afternoons.
Archaeological sites of emerging importance include ancient Poliochni, the Temple of Kavirio, the town of Ifestia and the Cave of Filoctetes
Posted : Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 at 11:00
Karen Bryan is the founding editor of the UK based, multi author Europe a la Carte Blog which features Europe travel tips about the best places to visit in Europe.