LESVOS



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Lesvos or Mytilene - general


LESBOS

Lesbos has a predominantly bucolic character, uncommon for an Aegean island. The central valleys and slopes carpeted as far as the eye can see with olive trees, the unusually tranquil waters of its two sea-gulfs that flood the heart of the island like large lakes, the self-sufficiency of its stately villages, and the relative beneficence of its mountain peaks, all contribute to give the island a feel of domesticity, spaciousness and calm. There is little on the surface that is menacing or precarious: fresh water, wildlife, produce and shade are all abundant. And the architecture of the solid stone houses is reassuring. That the most famous person of the island’s long history should be a woman—Sappho, the first, and perhaps the great est, female poet of Western literature—is appropriate to the island’s notably feminine personality. In Sappho and her contemporaries, Alcaeus, Arion and Terpander—all from Lesbos—the island can justly consider itself to be the cradle of Ancient Greek lyric poetry and music. It is a tradition that has not died; in the last century the writers Stratis Myrivilis and Argyris Eftaliotis, and the Nobel laureate poet Odysseas Elytis, were all born, or came from families, on Lesbos.
   Beneath the civilised poise of her verse was Byron’s ‘burning Sappho’. In similar fashion, not far below the urbane surface of Lesbos, and not far back in time, is a turbulent volcanic history; the more dramatic landscape of the west of the island, including its interesting petrified forest of giant tree-trunks near Si­gri, is shaped and scarred by volcanic action, and throughout the island the profusion of geothermic springs (some of them, amongst the hottest in Europe) is testimony to a continuing volcanic activity. The hot waters of Lesbos, whether in settings historic or bizarre or intimate, are one of the island’s greatest and most unusual attractions.
   For its size and wealth in Antiquity, Lesbos has proportionately less to show in archaeological terms than its neighbours—Thasos , Samothrace and Lemnos to the north, or Chios and Samos to the south. The beautiful Hellenistic mosaic floors, exhibited in the New Archaeological Museum, are for the visitor perhaps its most vivid relic. But from the Middle Ages on, the island’s heritage is rich: the grandly conceived Gattilusi castles, in Mytilene and Molyvos, in particular; a number of Byzantine rural churches; important monasteries of different periods; many Ottoman buildings, religious, military and domestic; some interesting 19th century industrial architecture from the island’s large olive-oil production; and—most conspicuous and widespread of all—the beauty and rich diversity of its villages. All have quite different architectural personalities; but all are examples of rural settlements, in which the building materials of the houses, the paved and cobbled streets, and the stone walls are at one in texture, spirit and colour with the landscape and vegetation which surround and interpenetrate their spaces, representing a historic harmony in the Greek landscape between man and nature—irreplaceable and fast disappearing.
   There is no corner of the island that lacks interest. Its landscape is constantly varying, offering habitats as diverse as wetland reed-beds and rocky steppes, with an accompanying diversity of bird-life and flora. Lesbos is among the best-adapted and organised for walking of all the islands and, although its size means that it takes time to explore, this remains the ideal way to become acquainted with its beauty and spaciousness.


Lesvos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.
Lesvos General Information.

 


Random information you might what to know about Lesvos Island
The Petrified forest
Ancient Eresos

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Lesvos Island, Greece.


By air:
Domestic flights from Athens, four times daily with Olympic Air and two or three times daily with Aegean Airlines, serve Mytilene through out the year.
There are daily Olympic Air connections with Thessaloniki, and 6 days a week with Aegean Airlines, including a twice weekly local, Eastern Aegean route with Olympic, from Thessaloniki to Rhodes , via Lemnos and Chios and (once a week only) Samos . The airport is 5km from the centre of Mytilene.
By boat: The principal route from Piraeus to Mytilene is served by Hellenic Seaways, via Chios, with a daily 12.30 departure from Piraeus, arriving at Mytilene 21.00, and returning to Piraeus again overnight.
GA Ferries run 3 times weekly along the route from/to Chios and Samos to the south, and Lemnos and Kavala to the north.
There is a weekly Saos Ferries service from the port of Sígri (north west Lesbos) on the route be- tween Kavala, Lemnos, Aghios Evstratios (to north), and (to south) Psará and Lavrion (for Athens). Crossings to Turkey (Ayvalık/Dikili) run 4 to 5 times weekly during the summer season (May–early-Oct) only.

Lesvos Travel Guide

beaches

Lesvos Island, Greece.

 

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Lesvos Travel Guide

eating

Lesvos Island, Greece.

The port area of Mytilene has many small (mostly new) tavernas, dedicated to providing interesting, fresh and varied Levantine–Aegean dishes with localredients, good local breads, and offer a pleasant atmosphere.
Two which are particularly to be recommended, are: *Matzourána (30 Komninaki St.), one block in from the east side of the harbour;
and *Machalás (27 Mitrelia St.), two blocks in from the north side of the harbour.
A more "folkloric" setting and some good local dishes are provided by Zoubouli, on the corner of Sarandoporou and Venedakis Streets, behind the north- east corner of the port.
For traditional vegetable and fish mezedes, prepared with care and imagination, nothing can beat the Taverna "Rebetis" on the waterfront, overlooking the north harbour from its southeast corner.
11km north of Mytilene, shortly after Pyrgi Thermis, beside the church of St George, is the Taverna Aghios Giorgios—good for fresh fish, and popular with locals on Sundays especially.
On the road to Polichnítos, below the village of Asomatos and 3km after the junction at Kerameia, is the Taverna "Karini" in the deep shade of plane-trees and vines beside a stream; the food is ordinary, but the setting delightful.
At picturesque Skala Sykaminiás on the north coast, the tavernas in the port have mostly become, through popularity, over-priced or poor in quality; but 1km to the west along the track by the shore from the harbour, is To Kyma, still unspoiled and with good fish dishes.
Taverna "Vapheios", in the village of that name 6km to the east of Molyvos, has good local specialties and sunset views to match.
Right in the heart of Molyvos, the tiny and basic *Obelisteria "Methymna" (further up the street past the Demarcheion) deserves special recommendation for the care with which the owner chooses his excel lent meats and produce, serving the client with the tastiest salads and grilled meats to be found on the island, simply seasoned with fresh herbs, and provided at very modest prices. Space is limited, especially in winter.

Lesvos Travel Guide

further reading

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Longus (2nd century ad), The Pastoral Story of Daphnis & Chloe, an ancient romance novel set on Lesbos (translated in Reardon’s Ancient Greek Novels, 1989).
Richard Brooks, Birding on the Greek Island of Lesvos—revised 2002, is an invaluable guide to the island’s unusually rich birdlife.

Lesvos Travel Guide

lodging

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Notwithstanding the décor which is a little over the top (an endemic problem in the two or three converted man sions which offer accommodation in Mytilene), the hotel Pyrgos of Mytilene (T. 22510 27977, 25069, fax 47319, www.pyrgoshotel.gr. Upper price range.) on the hill to the south of the harbour, is the city’s smartest hotel—welcoming, comfortable, providing a good breakfast with freshly baked items, and open all year round. The road-side rooms can be noisy, however.
An inexpensive alternative is the Hotel Orpheas (T.22510 28523, fax 21930), in a converted mansion mid-way between the two Archaeological Museums.
Not far outside Mytilene (11 km to the north), at Pyrgi Thermis, is the delightful Hotel Votsala- (T. 22510 71231, fax 71179; www.votsalahotel. com. Apr-Oct. Medium price). Welcoming, informal, and pointedly un-touristy and unpretentious, this simple and beautiful hotel on the shore, run by a Mytilenean architect and his wife, is perhaps the most civilised and enjoyable solution on the island.
Molyvos has a wider variety of places to chose from: on the shore below the town, is the Olive Press Hotel (medium price), arranged around the courtyard of a converted olive mill (T. 22530 71205, fax 71646).
In the heart of Molyvos is the delightful and simple Nassos Guesthouse (inexpensive; T. 22530 71432, www.nassosguesthouse.com);
and nearby, for real simplicity in an old Ottoman-style house, Pension Chrisi (T. 22530 72193). Not far away, between Petra and Anaxos, is the Clara Hotel & Bungalows (T. 22530 41532, fax 41535, www.clarahotel.gr); the complex, which has comprehensive facilities and is set in its own gardens, has fine views of Molyvos and Petra, but is a little distance from both and is not on the beach.
In Plomari, the nicest lodgings are provided by the Hotel Leda (T. 22520 32507; open May–Sept only) in a fine traditional mansion with views out to sea: it is in the centre of town, up a flight of steps from the main square.
The only accommodation which is part of one of the thermal spring spas are the rooms offered at Thermes Polichnitou (T. 22520 41201).

Lesvos Travel Guide

museums

Lesvos Island, Greece.

Archaeological Museum

Lesvos Travel Guide

practical info

Lesvos Island, Greece.

811 00 09, 812 00 & 813 00 Lesbos:
area 1630sq km
perimeter 370km
population 108,000
max. altitude 968m.
Port Authority (Mytilene): T. 22510 40827, 47888.
Travel and information: Pan Tours 22510 46595, www.pantours.gr, Dimakis Travel 22510 27865, www.dimakistours.gr

Lesvos Travel Guide

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