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The Island of Lesbos

The island of Lesbos often called Lesvos is also known as the Island of Love, and is one of the most popular Greek Islands. The third largest in size Lesbos is located on the shimmering Aegean Sea. Most of its 90,000 inhabitants live in the capital city, Mytilene, on the south east of the island. The island of Lesbos is truly one of the most beautiful with fine sandy beaches and a wealth of natural and historic surroundings. Interesting and ancient sites like the Neotlithic cave of Kagiani, which provided shelter for shepherds, the Chalakies commune of as well as those of the Thermi offer an insight into this islands rich cultural past.

Getting There

The island can be reached via charter flights to Odysseas Elytis Airport and scheduled flights from a variety of Greek cities including Athens and Thessaloniki. It is also accessible by boat from the Greek mainland and with other neighbouring islands with many private shipping lines offering connections taking around 11 hours from Athens.  Hellenic Seaways offer the fastest crossing taking only 8 hours.
On the islands itself, local bus services connect the towns and villages and tickets available from local coffee shops are cheap at only 1 euro. There are also plenty of taxis with some offering fixed fairs and others using the meter. If you decide to rent a car beware, local drivers are crazy maniacs! For those who enjoy hiking there are plenty of official tracks between the villages with detailed maps available from the tourist office.

A Dip Back in Time

There's no getting away from the fact that the island of Lesbos gave rise to the word lesbian thanks to the erotic poems of a local female poet called Sappho. Lesbos according to Greek mythology was the god of the island and many of the towns are named after his daughters. Its earliest inhabitants came from Thessaly on the Greek mainland during the Bronze Age. During Neolithis times the island came under the rule of the Persians until; they were defeated in 480 BC at the Battle of Salamis by the Greek army. During the Hellenic period it was part of various Macedonian kingdoms and by 79 BC it became part of the Roman Empire. In the Middle Ages it was part of the Byzantine Empire and in 803 it became the home of the exiled Empress Irene who was forced to earn a living as a spinner in order to survive here. In 1462 the Ottoman Turks conquered the island and it remained under their yoke until 1912 when it was given to Greece.
Lesbos is also the birthplace of many famous people as well as the mythical grave of the Greek poet and musician Orpheus who was dismembered by the Maenads when he angered the god Dionysus. Mythology tells that his lyre and head are buried on Lesbos.

Must See

The island offers much in the way of recreation and entertainment; beach bums will enjoy relaxing on the largest beach, Vatera on the southern end of the island, whilst culture vultures take in the islandís 12 historic churches on the island, which are listed on the 2008 World Monuments Fund as part of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world.

Preservation campaigns are ongoing but the threat of the natural elements and tourism has helped bring them into varying states of decline. One way to see some of the ancient sites is to take a jeep safari and see some of the authentic villages like Molyvos, a village with a rich history and medieval fort and the towns of Agiasos and Pirgi Thermi. The Genovese castle in Mytilene is also worth taking in.
Perhaps the most notable site on the island of Lesbos is the incredible Petrified Forest located on the west side of Lesbos. It is the larger of two significant petrified forests in the world (the other is in Arizona). It was created from the fossilized remains of plants and huge tree trunks. The area is enveloped by three villages ñ Antissa, Eressos and Sigri. Sigri is home to one of the best Geological Museums in Greece and explains in depth the formation of the forest.