LEROS



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Leros - Aghia Marina and the north of the island - Pandeli & the Castle

Pandeli & the Castle
The east coast of the island comes into view from the road, high above Bromolithos Bay: contrary to its name, which is redolent of chemistry and translates as ‘dirty or smelling rock’, this is a clean shingle bay, backed by steep wooded slopes. At its southern end is the cove of Tourkopigada (‘Turkish well’)—quieter, steeper, pine-clad and only accessible by foot. These two bays are the southern extension of the village and bay of Pandeli, a mass of white, flat-roofed houses which faces south below the castle, from an attractive shore, lined with fish-tavernas. On the ridge to the north are several windmills: six more, immaculately restored, line the road which leads from be hind Pandeli up to the castle.
   The impressively-sited castle of Pandeli (open Wed, Sat & Sun 8–1, 3–7), which was substantially repaired after damage incurred during the Second World War, is the principal mediaeval monument on Leros, occupying the island’s most panoramic site which was once the acropolis of the ancient settlement of Leros from which a few vestigial pieces of masonry have been incorporated into the fortifications. It is a massive complex consisting of three successive enclosures: the inner two, originally of 10th or 11th century Byzantine construction, were later strengthened in the 14th century; the third, much larger, outer enclosure was built in the early 14th century by the Knights of St John. This was the northernmost strong hold of their territory. When Cristoforo Buondelmonti, the Florentine traveller and antiquarian, came to Leros in c. 1417, he observed that the population of the area retired within the castle’s walls at night for protection. The Knights’ presence here was by no means always welcome; in 1319 their garrison was killed by the islanders, who wished to return under the protection of Byzantium: it was forcibly re-taken by the Knights the same year. Although mentioned in late 11th century deeds of donation from the Emperor in Constantinople to Hosios Christodoulos, the founder of the monastery of St John on Patmos, the castle’s structures today are mostly those of the 14th century, and contemporary with Pera Kastro on Kalymnos.
   Entrance of the enclosure is by a small gate protected by the massive projecting southwest bastion. The path leads up to the church of the Panaghia tou Kastrou, whose plain design derives from the fact that it was originally an armoury, adapted in the 17th century into a church (by the addition of an apse and a loggia on two sides), so as to house a miraculous icon. Some Byzantine fragments of templon screen and of an ambo are incorporated into its fabric: the interior is dominated by the fine carved iconostasis and the unusual pulpit. Attached to the church is a small and well-displayed Ecclesiastical Museum, containing liturgical vestments and items, and a number of 18th and 19th century icons of quality.
   To the south is the gateway into the inner fortifications, leading through a tunnel with finely constructed barrel-vaulting overhead and the original paving under foot; rooms, some vaulted, one of which was formerly used as a chapel, lead off to the side. The passage emerges into a confined space between the two oldest enceintes which constituted what was the entirety of the original Byzantine fortress. A number of modifications were made to this by the Knights, such as the unusual projecting corridor from the northeast corner, added to protect the north side of their new, outer enclosure-walls, and the postern-gate low down in its northeast corner.


Leros Island is part of the Dodecanese Island Group, Greece.


access

Leros Island, Greece.

By air: Leros has a small airport at the north end of the island (12km from Lakkí), to which Olympic Air operates a daily (morning) summer service. There is also a flight three times weekly to Astypalaia, Kos and Rhodes.
By boat: Two main ports are used on the island: the daily services by catamaran (Dodecanese Express), and four times weekly by car ferry (F/B Nisos Kalymnos) that ply the route between (Rhodes, Kos) Kalymnos and Patmos (Samos) call at Lakki; from the same port there are late-night ferries to and from Piraeus, four times weekly.
The faster Flying Dolphins on the routes linking the Dodecanese Islands, use the port of Aghia Marina on the east coast of the island: these run daily in summer only. There are also local services to Lipsi and Pat mos from Aghia Marina, and from Xerókambos to Myrtiés on Kalymnos. The latter is worth taking simply for the beauty of the scenery along the way.

Leros Travel Guide

eating

Leros Island, Greece.

Some of Leros"s best eating places are mezé tavernas, serving a wide variety of small dishes to be taken together with an ouzo or wine.
The mezedepoleion "Dimitris" has the most imaginative selection: it is signposted from a bend on the main Lakkí Aghia Marina road above the north end of Vromólithos Bay, and is hidden away beside the steps that lead down from the road. It has a terrace with a pleasant view.
To Koulouki, beside the shore at Koulouki Bay, just to the southwest of Lakkí, similarly serves hot and cold mezé on a peaceful terrace. For a shore-side setting of great beauty and for good quality fish,
To Kima, on the eastern side of Xerókambos Bay is a reliable taverna.
Locals, especially on Sundays, like to eat in the bay of Pandéli (south of the castle). There are three fish restaurants here; of these, Patímenos, is the most original and thoughtful in the presentation of its dishes, as well as the least expensive. But the liveliest experience and best value is represented by the small café, which produces a remarkable variety of mezés—situated in the tiny "square" just in from the shore at Pandéli, where the one-way system turns sharply back up to Platanos and Aghia Marina.

Leros Travel Guide

lodging

Leros Island, Greece.

One of the dozen nicest places to stay in all the Greek islands is on Leros, and is to be recommended above all else: the *Hotel Archontiko Angelou (T. 22470 22749 or mobile 6944 908182, www. hotel-angelou-leros.com) in Alínda is a fine 19th century neoclassical mansion set in its own gardens a little way back from the shore. The rooms are comfortable and beautifully appointed without being over-decorated, the breakfast is excellent, and the setting in every way a delight. Price is moderate: a rental car is advisable.
At the southern end of the island, in Xerókambos, the studio-rooms at Villa Maria (T. 22470 27827) are very simple indeed, but are given life by the burgeoning flowers all around: the lodgings are peaceful, inexpensive and pleasant.

Leros Travel Guide

practical info

Leros Island, Greece.

85 400 Leros: area 54sq km
perimeter 82km
resident population 8087
max. altitude 326m.
Port Authorities: Lakkí, T. 22470 22224
Aghia Marina, T. 22470 23256.
Travel and information: Lakki, Aegean Travel, T. 22470 26000, www.aegeantravel.gr
Aghia Marina, Kastis Travel, T. 22470 22140, www. kastis.eu

Leros Travel Guide

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