An introduction to Lesbos Island
Lesbos Island is the largest island in the a Aegean Sea and the third largest island in all of Greece. It forms part of the North Aegean Island chain with Chios and Samos. Its cultural and commercial capital is called Mytilene, a most ancient city, which was actually founded back in the 11th century BC. Other Lesbian towns include Plomari, famous for its ouzo of the same name, Kalloni, Eresos and Molyvos.
The poet Sappho was born on this island in the ancient city of Eresos. Her poetry expresses homoerotic sentiments and this, coupled with her native island of Lesbos, gave rise to the term lesbian. Today, Lesbos is also a popular destination of lesbian tourism.
Lesbos Island is a verdant island, which is why it is often referred to as Emerald Island. It is mountainous with the awesome peaks of mounts Lepetymnos and Olympus dominating the landscape.
The island is also famous for its production of an excellent ouzo.
Lesbos Island has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age and its civilisation attained exceptional glory during the Bronze Age. The Neolithic settlement of Chalakies flourished here. The Pelasgians once inhabited the land, as did the Aecheans and the Aeolians, whose language was the language Sappho wrote in. The Persians once seized the land, and much later came the Byzantines.
Like the other Northern Aegean islands, Lesbos fell to the Ottoman Empire and was reunited with Greece in 1912.
Today, Lesbos Island enjoys a strong tourist economy, and thanks to its verdant land, a strong agricultural economy too. Lesbos is most famous for its ouzo production, and the Plomari brand of ouzo is probably the most popular in all of Greece. Lesbos Island is also renowned for its vast olive oil production, an activity that has been synonymous with the island for thousands of years, as archaeological findings show.
The Lesbos town centre is called Mytilene and it is charming, cosmopolitan and busy city. Built around a stunning harbour, the city of Mytilene is more than just a central town on an idyllic island, it is a massive city catering to a population of over 90,000 inhabitants. To escape the crowds and busy city life you need to get on a bus and head quite a few kilometres away from Mytilene. But the city itself is the central hub of activity and there is much to delight in here from museums and historical sites to modern cafés and restaurants.
The Mytilene Castle is the island’s highlight and it stands atop a mount over the island capital. Built during the Mediaeval years it gained its fame as the strongest and most impenetrable castle in the Mediterranean Basin area and has since gone through numerous Italian and Turkish renovations. The island also boasts an ancient theatre, built during the Roman years. It is in ruins today, but in its day it hosted events for a massive ten thousand guests.
The island is also home to numerous religious buildings of note, both Orthodox churches and mosques, making it a prime destination for admirers of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture.
Lesbos Island, like all the other Greek islands, boasts an abundant coastline of beaches that are absolutely enchanting and as such, spending lazy days on the beach is a prime activity on the island, apart from drinking ouzo and reading the poems of Sappho. The beaches of Lesbos include Agios Isidoros, Agios Stefanos, Anaxos, Eftalou, Kagia, Vatera and Molyvos to name a few. They are situated at a fair distance from Mytilene town, but are easily accessible and boast excellent facilities for tourists.
Before you leave the island of Lesbos, you must visit the traditional village of Molyvos, go on an olive-picking excursion, and visit the Barbayanis Ouzo museum, where you can learn all there is to know about the age-old drink, the process of creating it, and get to taste it too.