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Discover Lesvos (Mytilene)

Lesvos belongs to the islands of the Eastern Aegean Sea and it’s the third largest Greek island after Crete and Euboea.

It occupies an area of 1,630 square Km and its coastline stretches for about 370 km. Lesvos lies in front of the Adramytte Gulf at a distance of 5-8miles from the Asia Minor coasts.

The island of Lesvos belongs to the Prefecture of Lesvos together with the islands of Lemnos, Saint Efstratios and the islets around them to the northern. There are two Gulfs : the Gulf of Gera and of Kalloni in the South, while a plethora of bays and capes surround it perimetrically.

At the highlands, there are torrents which flow through the plains : Tsikneas in the North, Tsichleotas in the West, Mylopotamos in the central and Sedoundas, Almyropotamos in the South.

The western Lesvos in comparison with the rest, is barren with the exception of small green patches, but the eastern and central part of the island is full of olive groves ( 11 millions of olive trees ), forests of pine-, chestnut-, oak-, breech- and plane- trees.

Also the Lesvian countryside is covered with an endless variety of herbs and aromatic plants. Generally the flora is extremely rich.

Accordingly to the Mythology, the first inhabitants of Lesvos were the tribe of Pelasgeans, who gave to the island its initial name «Pelasgia».

During the Prehistoric age the island had been called with various names like «Makaria», «Lassia», «Aeolis», «Ethiope», but its final name «Lesvos» is due to the man «Lesvos», son of the hero Lapitho, who came from Thessaly with his men. Even today, place-names with mythological origin survive, like «Mytilene», «Kalloni», «Antissa», «Eressos», «Mithymna».

The starting-point of Lesvos” history is lost in the centuries” fog. Archaeological excavations to the island brought to light the evidence that it had been inhabited since the early Neolithic times. In 1393-1184 BC it was conquered by the Achaeans while in 1110-1100 BC by the Aeoleans, who gave to its inhabitants their civilization and language, so the island is converted in a significant civilization center of the North – Eastern Aegean Sea.

During the Archaic period ( 7th – 6th century BC ), it is not only observed commercial and colonization activity, but flourishing cultural development as well.

After a difficult period of taking part in Greek wars and the island’s occupation from various tribes, in the year 88B.C. The Romans occupy Lesvos. A period of partial self-governing follows from the year 62B.C. till 70A.D., while during the division of the Roman Empire in Eastern and Western State, Lesvos is included in the Eastern or Byzantine State ( at the 17th Theme ).

During the Byzantine period ( 324-1453 ), Saracens, Venetian and Crusaders are frequently looting the island. In 1354 the island is given as dowry to the Genovese Francisco Gateluzo. Afterwards in the year 1462 it is occupied by the Ottomans and the economical and cultural declines.

During the period of the Turkish occupation ( 1462-1817 ), the island lives in darkness until the year 1912 – year of its liberation by the Greek navy. Finally it formally becomes part of the Greek State in 1923 after the signature of the Greek-Turkish Peace Treaty.

It’s worth-noticing that in the year 1922 after the Asia Minor Destruction, many refugees found shelter to the island, fact that contributed to the development and recreation of the island.

During the Second World War Germans occupied it from May 1941 until the liberation in September 1944. During the period 1950-1960 many inhabitants immigrate to foreign countries ( Western Europe and America ) because of economical problems.

The Lesvian and generally the Greek presence even though away from the home country continue till today to create and to keep its cultural unique identity.