Southwest of Samothrace lies Lemnos, one of the
loveliest isles of the Aegean. 476 sq. km. in area, 259
km. of coastline, 15,721 inhabitants. There are car and
passenger ferries from Piraeus, Kavala, Kymi Euboia,
Aghios Konstantinos, as well as a link with Lesbos and,
via the route Kavala - Piraeus, with the islands of the
east Aegean, the Dodecanese, Cyclades and Crete.
A regular local service operates between Lemnos and
Aghios Efstratios. There is a daily flight from Athens,
Thessaloniki and Mytilene. Lemnos has a gentle
landscape, wide tracts of flat land (highest point
Skopia, 470 m. a.s.l.), clear sea and beautiful beaches.
Even though hoards of tourists descend on it, it has
lost none of its distinctive charm.
According to Homer the island was first
settled by Sindians of Thracian provenance. Hephaistos
was worshipped here. Indeed, the island's largest city
was called Hephaisteia. In antiquity the island was
known as Aithalia and played an important role at all
times due to its strategic position (24 miles from the
Excavations conducted by the Italian Archaeological
School have shown that Lemnos has been inhabited since
Neolithic times. During the Bronze Age a splendid
civilisation developed here (Poliochni), closely
affined to that of Troy, finds from which are exhibited
in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens and in the
local museum at Myrina.
In the 5th century BC Lemnos was laid waste by the
Athenian general Miltiades, then subjugated by the
Persians. In 478 BC it joined the Athenian League. Its
land was apportioned among Athenian lot-holders who
dedicated the famous bronze statue of Athena Lemnia,
work of Pheidias, on the Acropolis. Lemnos remained
dependent on Athens throughout antiquity except for
brief intervals when it belonged to the Macedonians
(307-202 BC) and the Romans (202-166 BC).
Myrina (Kastro), the island's main town and harbour, is a mixture of old and new buildings. It has retained its ancient name, taken from one of the Amazons. Very little has remained of its ancient city, one of the largest on the island: traces of the fortification wall, houses and streets are nowadays discernible. A large number of clay figurines have been recovered in excavations and from their inscriptions it is deduced that a sanctuary of Artemis existed here.
From Myrina one can visit other villages on the island
both inland and coastal. At Kornos (7.5 km. northeast of
Myrina) there are churches of the Dormition of the
Virgin and St. Andrew.ln the region of Kotsinas (3 km.
northeast) are ruins of a Venetian castle and, just
beyond, are the ancient sites of Hephaisteia and
Kabeirio. Hephaisteia (nowadays Palaiopoli), inhabited
since prehistoric times, was one of the island's most
important cities in the 5th century BC, when it was
captured by Miltiades and subsequently made a member of
the Athenian League.
Excavations have brought to light houses, a sanctuary
(destroyed in the 6th century BC), an extensive cemetery
(8th -6th century BC) and a theatre of the Roman period.
The rich finds (figurines, weapons, pottery) bear
witness to the city's floruit and its contacts with
Attica, Corinth and Macedonia. Athena was worshipped in
this region and there was a sanctuary in her honour at
Kome, to the north of Hephaisteia. At Chloi, 3km. north
of Hephaisteia, is the sanctuary of the Cabeiroi,
discovered in 1937.
This sanctuary is older than that on Samothrace and a
large stoa, Telesterion and countless inscriptions,
furnishing a wealth of information concerning the
sanctuary and important cities on the island, have been
revealed. Near the village of Kaminia (35 km. east of
Myrina), in the bay of Vroskopos, the prehistoric city
of Poliochni has been uncovered, which achieved its acme
between 2700 -2200 BC and continued to be occupied until
around 1600 BC. Finds from here (mainly pottery and
jewellery) comprise not only evidence of the cultural
apogee but also of the close links maintained with Troy.
Four successive well-stratified phases of occupation
have been revealed, including foundations of large
houses, walls and public buildings, the most splendid
examples of which date to the fourth phase.
The island's picturesque villages, Moudros, Kontopouli,
Livadochori, can be visited by car, as can the lovely
beaches in the vicinity of Myrina and at Platys, Thanos,
Skandali, Kaminia, all of which are accessible by caique
and are ideal for fishing and swimming. For those with a
boat there are any number of delightful little bays
awaiting discovery. Refuelling stations at Myrina and
Moudros. The only hotels of Lemnos are at Myrina but
there are rooms and apartments for rent both there and
elsewhere (Kontias, Moudros).
This tiny, islolated island between Lesbos, Skyros and
Lemnos, to which it belongs administratively, is 43 sq.
km. in area, has 30 km. of coastline, a population of
296 and is only 16 nautical miles from Lemnos.
Well-known as a place of exile, Aghios Efstratios has,
apart from its harbour, just one village on its
northeast side and several lovely, clean beaches. There
is a boat connection either from Aghios Konstantinos and
Kymi (once a week), or from Kavala (three times a week).
Twice a week there is a link with Lemnos and
Alexandroupo-lis, Samothrace, Mytilene (once a week).
Its picturesque bays, chapels and caves, the few ancient
ruins and tomb of St. Efstratios (9th century) are the
only places of interest.