Lesbos ( / l ɛ z b ɒ s / , US : / l ɛ z b oʊ s / ; Greek : Λέσβος Lesvos , pronounced [Lezvos] ), sometimes Referred to as Mytilini after- ict capital , is a Greek island Located in the northeastern Aegean Sea . It has an area of ​​1,633 km 2 (631 sq mi) [1] with 320 kilometers (199 miles) ofcoastline , making it the third largest island in Greece . It is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait and in late Palaeolithic / Mesolithic times [2] was joined to the Anatolian mainland before the end of the last glacial period .

Lesbos is also the name of a regional unit of the North Aegean region, within which Lesbos is one of five governing islands. The others are Chios , Ikaria , Lemnos , and Samos . The North Aegean region governs nine inhabited islands: Lesbos, Chios , Psara , Oinousses , Ikaria , Fournoi Korseon , Lemnos , Agios Efstratios and Samos . The capital of North AegeanRegion is Mytilene. The population of Lesbos is approximately 86,000, a third of whom live in its capital, Mytilene, in the southeastern part of the island. The remaining population is distributed in small towns and villages. The largest are Plomari , Kalloni , the Gera Villages , Agiassos , Eresos , and Molyvos (the ancient Mythimna).

According to later Greek writers, Mytilene was founded in the 11th century BC by the family Penthilidae, who arrived from Thessaly , and ruled the city-state until a popular revolt (590-580 BC) led by Pittacus of Mytilene ended their rule. In fact the archaeological and linguistic record May indicate indication was late Iron Age arrival of Greek settlers ALTHOUGH references in Late Bronze Age Hittite archives indicate indication A Likely Greek presence Then. The name Mytilene already seems to be of Hittite origin. Selon Homer ‘s Iliad , HOWEVER, Lesbos Was share of the kingdom of Priamin what is now Turkey. Much work remains to be done just what happened when. In the middle ages, it was under Byzantineand then Genoese rule. The Ottomans were conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1462. The Ottomans then ruled the island until the First Balkan War in 1912, when it became part of the Kingdom of Greece.


According to Classical Greek mythology , Lesbos was the patron god of the island. Macar was reputedly the first king of many daughters bequeathed their names to some of the larger towns. In Classical myth his sister, Canace , was killed to have him made king. The place names with female origins are named after local goddesses, who were replaced by gods. citation needed ] Homer refers to the island as ” Macaros edos“, the seat of Macar. Hittite records from the Late Bronze Age name Lazpaand Hittites to “borrow their gods” (presumably idols) to cure their king when the local gods were not forthcoming. It is believed that emigrants from mainland Greece, mainly from Thessaly , entered the island in the Late Bronze Age and bequeathed it with the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language, of which written form survives in the poems of Sappho , among others.

The abundant gray pottery ware found on the island and the worship of Cybele , the great mother-goddess of Anatolia , suggest the cultural continuity of the population from Neolithic times. When the Persian king Cyrus defeated Croesus (546 BC) the Ionic Greek cities of Anatolia and the adjacent islands became Persian subjects and the Persians were defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis (480 BC). The island is governed by an oligarchy in archaic times , followed by quasi-democracy in classical times . For a short period it was a member of the Athenian confederacy, which is recounted by Thucydides in the Mytilianian Debate , in Book III of his History of the Peloponnesian War . In Hellenistic times, the island belonged to various Successor kingdoms until 79 BC when it passed into Roman hands.

During the Middle Ages it belonged to the Byzantine Empire . In 802, the Byzantine Empress Irene was exiled to Lesbos after her deposition, and died there. [4] The island served as a gathering base for the rebel fleet Thomas the Slav in the early 820s. [4]

In the 10th century, it was part of the theme of the Aegean Sea , while in the late 11th century it formed a diagonals under a kourator in Mytilene. [4] In the 1090s, the island was briefly occupied by the Turkish emir Tzachas , but he was unable to capture Methymna, which resisted throughout. [4] In the 12th century, the island became a frequent target for plundering raids by the Republic of Venice . [4

After the Fourth Crusade (1202-1204) The island passed to the Latin Empire , but was reconquered by the Empire of Nicaea sometime after 1224. [4] In 1354, it was granted a fief to the Genoese Francesco I Gattilusio , whose family ruled Lesbos until it was conquered by Ottoman Turks in 1462. [4] It remained under Turkish rule, named مدللى ( Midilli ) in Turkish, until 1912 when it was taken by Greek forces during the First Balkan War .

The cities of Mytilene and Methymna have been bishoprics since the 5th century. By the early 10th century, Mytilene had been raised to the status of a metropolitan see . Methymna achieved the same by the 12th century. [4]

The oldest artifacts found on the island may date to the late Paleolithic period. [5] Important archaeological sites on the island are the Neolithic Cave of Kagiani , probably a refuge for shepherds, the Neolithic Settlement of Chalakies , and the extensive habitation of Thermi (3000-1000 BC). The largest habitation is found in Lisvori (2800-1900 BC), part of which is submerged in shallow coastal waters. There are also several archaic, classical Greek and Roman remains. Vitruvius called the ancient city of Mytilene “magnificent and good taste”. Remnants of its medieval history are three impressive castles.

Lesbos is the birthplace of many famous people. In archaic times, Arion developed the type of poem called dithyramb , the progenitor of tragedy, and Terpander invented the seven musical note scale for the lyre. Two of the nine lyric poets in the Ancient Greek Cannon, Alcaeus and Sappho , were from Lesbos. Phanias wrote history. The seminal artistic creativity of those times to the myth of Orpheus to whom Apollo gave a lyre and the Musestaught to play and sing. When Dionysus has been dismembered by the Maenads and their bodies, they have “remained” ever since. Pittacus was one of the Seven Sages of Greece . In classical times Hellanicus advanced historiography, Theophrastus , the father of botany, succeeded Aristotleas the head of the Lyceum. Aristotle and Epicurus lived there for some time, and it is there that Aristotle began systematic systematic zoological investigations [6] . In later times lived Theophanes , the historian of Pompey’s campaigns, Longus wrote the famous novel Daphnis and Chloe , and much later the historian Doukas wrote the history of the early Ottoman Turks . In modern times the poet Odysseus Elytis , descendant of an old family of Lesbos received the Nobel Prize .

Landmarks and architecture

  • Petrified forest of Lesbos
  • Castle of Molyvos
  • Castle of Mytilene
  • Castle of Sigri
  • Church of Panagia Agiasos
  • Monastery of Agios Raphael
  • Monastery of Taxiarchis
  • Roman Aqueduct of Lesbos
  • The Bridge at Kremasti
  • Early Christian Basilica Agios Andreas Eressos
  • Temple of Klopedi
  • Christian Temple of Chalinados
  • Ancient Sanctuary of Messa
  • Acropolis of Ancient Pyrra
  • Monastery of Ipsilou
  • Monastery of Limonas
  • Ouzo Museum – The World of Ouzo [7]
  • Barbayannis Ouzo Museum
  • The Mosque in Parakila
  • Sourlangas Leather Factor
  • Catacomb of Mary Magdalene Lesbos

Endangered sites

The World Monuments Fund ‘s Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites in the world. The churches range in the Early Christian Period to the 19th century. Exposure to the elements, outmoded conservation methods, and increased tourism. The following are the 12 churches: [8]

  • Katholikon of Moni Perivolis
  • Early Christian Basilica Agios Andreas Eressos
  • Early Christian Basilica Afentelli Eressos
  • Church of Agios Stephanos Mantamados
  • Katholikon of Moni Taxiarchon Kato Tritos
  • Katholikon of Moni Damandriou Polichnitos
  • Metamorphosi Soteros Church in Papiana
  • Church of Agios Georgios Anemotia
  • Church of Agios Nikolaos Petra
  • Monastery of Ipsilou
  • Church of Agios Ioannis Kerami
  • Church of Taxiarchon Vatousa


Lesbos lies in the far east of the Aegean sea, facing the Turkish coast ( Gulf of Edremit ) from the north and east; at the narrowest point, the strait is about 5.5 km (3.4 mi) wide. The shape of the island is roughly triangular, but it is deeply intruded by the gulfs of Kalloni , with an entry on the southern coast, and Gera , in the southeast. [9]

Mt. Lepetymnos at 968 m (3,176 ft) and Mt. Olympus at 967 m (3,173 ft), dominating its northern and central sections. [10] The island’s volcanic origin is manifested in several hot springs and two gulfs.

Lesbos is green, aptly named Emerald Island , with a greater variety of flora than expected for the island’s size. Eleven million olive trees cover 40% of the island together with other fruit trees . Forests of mediterranean pines , chestnut trees and some oaks occupy 20%, and the remainder is scrub , grassland or urban.


The island has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate ( Csa in the Köppen climate classification ). The mean annual temperature is 18 ° C (64 ° F), and the mean annual rainfall is 750 mm (30 in). Its exceptional sunshine makes it one of the sunniest islands in the Aegean Sea. Snow and very low temperatures are rare.

[ hide ]Climate data for Mytilene
month Jan Feb Mar Apr may Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec year
Record high ° C (° F) 20.2
Average high ° C (° F) 12.1
Daily mean ° C (° F) 9.5
Average low ° C (° F) 6.7
Record low ° C (° F) -4.4
Average precipitation mm (inches) 129.9
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 9.0 8.1 6.5 4.8 2.7 0.8 0.4 0.4 1.3 3.3 6.8 10.0 54.1
Average relative humidity (%) 71.0 69.8 57.5 63.9 62.6 57.3 56.0 57.4 59.5 66.1 71.0 72.0 64.5
Source # 1: Hellenic National Meteorological Service [11]
Source # 2: NOAA [12]

Lesvos Geopark

The entire territory of Lesbos is “Lesvos Geopark ” which is a member of the European Geoparks Network (2000-) and Global Geoparks Network (2004-) on the subject of its outstanding geological heritage, educational programs and projects, and promotion of geotourism . [13]

This geopark was enlarged from “Lesvos Petrified Forest Geopark”. Lesbos contains one of the few petrified forests called Petrified forest of Lesbos and it has been declared Protected Natural Monument . Fossilized plants have been found in many localities on the western part of the island. The fossilized forest was formed during the Late Oligocene to Lower Middle Miocene , by the intense volcanic activity in the area. Neogene volcanic rocks dominate the central and western part of the island, including andesites , dacites and rhyolites , ignimbrite, pyroclastics , tuffs , and volcanic ash . The products of the volcanic activity covered the vegetation of the area and the fossilization process took place during favorable conditions. The fossilized plants are silicified remnants of a sub-tropical forest that existed on the north-west part of the island 20-15 million years ago.


Lesbos is a separate regional unit of the North Aegean region, and the only municipality of the regional unit. As a part of the 2011 Kallikratis government reform, the regional unit Lesbos was created out of part of the former Lesbos Prefecture . At the same reform, the current municipality of Lesbos was created out of 13 forming municipalities on the island: [14]

  • Agia Paraskevi (Αγία Παρασκευή)
  • Agiasos (Αγιάσος)
  • Gera (Γέρα)
  • Eresos-Antissa (Ερεσός-Άντισσα)
  • Evergetoulas (Ευεργέτουλας)
  • Kalloni (Καλλονή)
  • Loutropoli Thermis (Λουτρόπολη Θερμής)
  • Mantamados (Μανταμάδος)
  • Mithymna (Μήθυμνα)
  • Mytilene (Μυτιλήνη)
  • Petra (Πέτρα)
  • Plomari (Πλωμάρι)
  • Polichnitos (Πολίχνιτος)


The economy of Lesbos is Essentially agricultural in nature with olive oil being white Reviews the main source of income . Tourism in Mytilene , promoting the islands of Petra , Plomari , Molyvos and Eresos , contribute substantially to the economy of the island. Fishing and the manufacture of soap and ouzo , the Greek national liqueur , are the sources of income.


  • TV: TV Mytilene
  • Newspapers: Dimokratis (newspaper) , Embros Lesvou


LGBT tourism

In English and most other European languages ​​including Greek , the term lesbian is commonly used to refer to homosexual women. This use of the term derived from the poems of Sappho , Who Was born in Lesbos and Who wrote with Powerful emotional happy directed Toward other women. [15] Due to this association, Lesbos and particularly the town of Eresos , her birthplace, are visited frequently by LGBT tourists. [16]Lesbos islanders launches the island of the island in 2008, a group of Icelandic islanders litigated unsuccessfully at the LGBT community of Greece. The islander group has requested a legal injunction to ban groups from the word lesbian in their names, which the petitioners claim to be “insulting” and disgrace them around the world. [17] [18]


Local specialities:

  • Kydonato
  • Revithato
  • Sardeles from Kalloni
  • Selinato
  • Sfougato
  • Skafoudes
  • Sougania
  • Platzenta
  • Amygdalota (dessert)
  • Retseli (dessert)


  • Aiolikos FC
  • Kalloni FC

Notable residents

  • Sappho (7th and 6th centuries BC), poet
  • Terpander (7th century BC), poet and citharede
  • Alcaeus of Mytilene (7th century BC), poet and politician
  • Aristotle (384-322 BC), philosopher, was born in Chalkidike but lived for a time on the island.
  • Longus (2nd century AD), ancient Greek author
  • Theophrastus (370-285 BC), philosopher and botanist
  • Theoctist of Lesbos (9th century), hermit saint
  • Constantine IX Monomachos : Byzantine emperor (1042-1055), resident of Mytilene prior to accession.
  • Christopher of Mytilene (11th century), poet
  • Hayreddin Barbarossa (1470s-1546), Admiral Ottoman
  • Georgios Jakobides (1853-1932), painter
  • Gregorios Bernardakis (1848-1925), classical philologist and palaeographer
  • Demetrios Bernardakis , dramatist
  • Theophilos Hatzimihail (c.1870-1934), painter
  • Georgios Emmanouil Kaldis (1875-1953) lawyer, journalist and politician
  • Teriade (1889-1983), art critic, patron, and publisher
  • Hermon di Giovanno (1900-1968), painter
  • Odysseas Elytis (1911-1996), poet, Nobel Prize in Literature 1979
  • Tzeli Hadjidimitriou (b 1962), photographer and writer
  • Stratis Myrivilis (1890-1969), writer
  • Ahmed Djemal (1872-1922), Ottoman commander, politician
  • Kostas Kenteris , athlete (running, 200 meters), Olympic Gold Medal Sydney 2000, World and European championship gold medal
  • Alex Martinez , graffiti artist, illustrator, muralist
  • Hüseyin Hilmi Pasha (1 April 1855 – 1922), Great Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
  • Tamburi Ali Efendi (1836-1902), Turkish classical composers
  • Steffen Streich , ultra-endurance cyclist


  1. Jump up^ “Population & Housing Census 2001” (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-09-21.
  2. Jump up^ Harissis et al. ‘A Palaeolithic site on Lesbos island, Greece’. “Αρχαιολογία και Τέχνες” (Archeology & Arts) 2000; 76: 83-87, Article in Greek
  3. Jump up^ “Sappho and Alcaeus” . The Walters Art Museum .
  4. ^ Jump up to:h Gregory, Timothy E. (1991). “Lesbos”. In Kazhdan, Alexander . The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium . Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. p. 1219. ISBN  0-19-504652-8 .
  5. Jump up^ Harissis H .; Durand P .; Axiotis M .; Harissis T. (2000). “Traces of Paleolithic Settlement in Lesbos” . Archaiologia kai Technes . p. 76: 83-87 (article in Greek with English abstract).
  6. Jump up^ Harissis, H. 2017. ‘The location of the Euripus of Pyrrha in the works of Aristotle and Strabo’. Acta Classica 60.
  7. Jump up^ “The World of Ouzo” .
  8. Jump up^ Churches Of Lesvosaccessed July 31, 2014
  9. Jump up^ “Lesbos” . Archived from the original on 2010-09-21.
  10. Jump up^ “The Petrified Forest of Lesvos, A Unique Natural Monument Recording the Evolutionary Process of Life on Earth” . UNESCO Global Geoparks Network. Archived from the original on 2010-06-05.
  11. Jump up^ “HNMS” . www.hnms.gr .
  12. Jump up^ “MITILINI Climate Normals 1961-1990” . National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration . Retrieved January 29, 2013 .
  13. Jump up^ “Global Geoparks in Greece (UNESCO)” (PDF) .
  14. Jump up^ “Kallikratis reform law text” (PDF) .
  15. Jump up^ “lesbian” . Dictionary.com Unabridged . Retrieved February 14, 2017 .
  16. Jump up^ Carolyn, Bath; Clark, Michael; Hannigan, Des (2004). Greece . Lonely Planet . pp. 568-570. ISBN  1-74059-470-3 .
  17. Jump up^ “BBC NEWS – World – Europe – Lesbos islanders dispute gay name” . news.bbc.co.uk .
  18. Jump up^ “BBC NEWS – World – Europe – Lesbos locals lose lesbian appeal” . news.bbc.co.uk .

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