Limnos Island, Greece
In ancient times, according to myth, Limnos, a volcanic island, was the home of the god Hephaistos and his most important place of worship. The island's history is long; two of its cities, Mirina and Hephaistia, were extremely prosperous during antiquity. Today, the island.s capital, still called Mirina, or Kastro, sits at the back of the bay in exactly the same location as its ancient namesake. A Venetian castle presides over its characteristic captains' houses adorned with wooden balconies.
On the castle's grounds live more than 80 small deer that you may encounter during your visit. Mirina has an important Archaeological Museum with finds from the region as well as from Hephaistia, Cabeiria and Poliochne. Representing every period from the prehistoric to the Hellenistic, they consist primarily of relief works, idols, pottery and sculptures. 4 km. east of Mirina is Therma, with a hydrotherapy centre, while 3 km. north of the village Katalako you will encounter an impressive dune landscape, which is called the “Limnos Sahara”.
The second largest town is Moudros, 25 kilometres east of Mirina, one of the safest anchorages in the Aegean. During World War I it was used as a base of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, which launched its attack on the Dardanelles from here in 1915.
Taking Moudros as a starting point, it is possible to visit all the island's archaeological sites. A dirt road to the northeast leads to a rocky promontory with the ruins of Hephaistia, Limnos's leading city in antiquity. Excavations have brought to light sanctuaries of the 5th and 4th century B.C. and the necropolis with Greek, Roman and Byzantine tombs' Three kilometres farther north at a place called Chloe there are the Archaic and Hellenistic remains of the Sanctuary of the Cabeirians. East of Moudros near Kaminia you will find the ruins of ancient Poliochne, where seven successive settlements have been excavated, one dating back to the Neolithic, the others to the Early Bronze Age. Finally, north of Moudros is the site of the Byzantine state of Kotsina with its fortress. This is where Maroula, the heroine of Limnos, died fighting the Turks in 1478.
On the east side of the island, at Hortorolimni, there is a large stretch of marshland, a major habitat for rare birds. The road continues from here to the tip of Limnos and the fishing hamlet of Plaka with its monastery dedicated to Agios Haralambos. At the southern tip of the island there is another monastery, Agios Sostis, where a big celebration is held every September 7th. The island.s inland road network, asphalted as far as Moudros, leads to picturesque seaside and mountain villages, such as Kondias, Livadohori, Atsiki with its interesting view of the Gulf of Pournia and tavernas serving fresh fish, and Nea Koutali with its marvelous empty beaches, delightful tavernas and spongefishing caiques anchored offshore.
Those not deterred by dirt roads will want to explore still further.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS:Port authority: 22540 22.225
Police: 22540 22.200
First Aid: 22540 22.166, 22203 22433
Municipal Tourism Bureau: 22540 22208, 22540 22935