Limnos History




On the island of Hephaestus mythology and history harmoniously coexist in the memories and way of life of the locals.  Limnos's strategic, geographic location (near Hellespont and the Black Sea) and geological formation are two features that have remained constant through the centuries and millennia.  Limnos history of civilization traces back some 6,000 years with prehistoric peoples and ancient cities such as Poliochni, Hephaestus and Kavirio, however other archeological digs and excavations have brought new evidence of additional ancient settlements that could date as far back as 10,000 B.C.  The first settlers founded the famous city of Poliochni (4th millennium B.C.) and was the oldest urban center and commercial port in Europe.  

The parliamentary institution of Poliochnis, which still operates to this day on the eastern shore of the island, is the oldest governing body in the history of the world, according to historical data and studies.  These pioneers in Limnos paved the way for future collective governing institutions worldwide.  Massive earthquake eruptions caused the volcano Mosychlos to sink into the sea (both events 1,500 B.C.), leaving the city in ruins, from which it never recovered.  The subsequent settlers on the island were known as the Sintyes.      

Limnos connection with mythology is the god Hephaestus, who is said to have moved his works to Mount Moschylos as well as his children, the “Kaviros”.  This is one reason why it is believed that metallurgy flourished on the island during antiquity.  Limnians are also descendants of the famous Argonauts, where their memories come alive in everyday life here.  After the Sintyes, the Minoans and Minyans settled on the island, and the mesh of the different peoples played a significant role in the development and advancement of Limnos.  The two major cities at the time, Myrina and Hephaestia, together inherited the moniker “Dipolis”.         

Key Dates & Events in the History of Limnos

•    in ancient times, the island was conquered by the Persians, but was later freed with the help of the Athenians
•    in 512 B.C., the island is admitted into the Athenian Alliance
•    from 360 to 166 B.C., Limnos was the subject of a conflict between the Athenians and the Macedonians, and was plundered numerous times over the years

•    The Romans successfully conquered the island in 166 B.C., but from the 7th century A.D. until the 11th century, it was under the rule of the Byzantine Empire, and served as a major naval base
•    1207 – 1456: first dominated by the Venetians (1207), the Byzantines again (1279) and finally by the Ottomans (1456)
•    1478: heroic actions by the legendary Maroula during the war over annexing Limnos to the Ottoman Empire.  Maroula, daughter of the region’s ruling king, fought against Sulieman and achieved a key victory in May, 1478.  A statue in her honor has been erected in the courtyard of the Church of Zoodochou Pigis (Life-Giving Spring), just outside of Kotsina.  
•    The island also played a pivotal role in the Orlov uprising of 1770 while sea captains and sailors contributed to the Greeks’ collective independence movement against the Ottomans   

•    October 1912: the island is freed, led by admiral Kountourioti
•    The island was officially annexed to Greece in 1914, after the ratification by the Great Powers.
•    October 1918: the Armistice of Moudros signing (between the Allied Powers and Ottoman Turkey) was historic in that it declared the end of the Great War (WWI).
•    1915: during the Gallipoli campaign, some 30,000 British and French troops were stationed in Moudros harbor
•    1923 saw the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, which included the island’s population swap between Turkey and Greece.  From the island, 1,600 Ottoman Turks were evacuated to Turkish mainland, while some 4,500 Greeks of Asia Minor descent came to Limnos.  The present-day village of Nea Koutali is founded by Greek refugees from the Asia Minor village of Koutali-Marmara.
•    During World War II, in April 1941, Limnos fell to the hands of the Nazi Germans while the port in Moudro was used as a German naval base until 1944, when it was finally liberated.       




Limnos and the ANZAC Heritage

Limnos: The Great War Legacy

The ANZAC Day centenary of April 25, 2015 presents a splendid opportunity to appraise the historical and geopolitical significance of Limnos island (Lemnos), both as a location with strong ties to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (the ANZAC Corps, as they continue to be called) and as a site on which World War I would leave its indelible historical imprint. The resting ground for hundreds of ANZAC soldiers who lost their lives in the war, a former training camp to practice landings and the base for the 3rd Australian General Hospital (the main hub for wounded soldiers from the offensive), Limnos island would become a timeless site where resilience, struggle, and even love, would unravel at so turbulent a time in world history.


The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) & the Campaign of Gallipoli

Over 50 thousand Australian and New Zealand troops fought during the campaign of Gallipoli (1915), an allied expedition intended to capture the Gallipoli peninsula and allow the allied navies access to the Dardanelles. Its central objective was to capture Constantinople, the capital city of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. If the Gallipoli campaign went on for eight months, the ANZAC troops were met with resistance from the Ottoman defenders and the allied forces were evacuated at the end of 1915. Both sides suffered casualties and immense hardship, with an excess of eight thousand Australian soldiers losing their lives and another nineteen thousand suffering injuries.


Limnos in the Great War

Owing to its geographical position opposite the shores of Gallipoli, Limnos would serve as a spot for the disembarkation, resting, refueling and medical treatment of the thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers, and the hundreds of Australian nurses who came to provide care to the troops.

At approximately 80 kilometers from the Gallipoli shores, Limnos island became a prime landing, refueling and resting ground: all Australian soldiers passed through Limnos, practiced landings and rested there, or received treatment in the medical camp set up on the island. The port of Limnos itself was a departure point for all naval and submarine expeditions to Gallipoli.

In August and September 1915 alone, the Australian medical camp established in Limnos would accommodate almost 100,000 wounded soldiers. Over two hundred Australian nurses carried out their duties on the island. One of them, Clarice Daley, married Sergeant Ernest Lawrence in the west Moudros army camp in October 1915. The event of their wedding sent out a glimmer of light to the thousands of soldiers who had lost colleagues or they themselves had been wounded in the War.

As an effect of its role in the Gallipoli campaign, Limnos would receive scores of eminent Australian personae, such as Albert Jacka and Generals Birdwood and Monash. Two great Commonwealth cemeteries are located in Limnos, in the areas of Moudros and Portianos respectively.

The resultant links to the ANZAC Corps have meant that, to this day, the island has continued to maintain a strong relationship with Australia.


ANZAC Day: 100 years since the Campaign of Gallipoli

To Australians across the globe, April 25 is a day of remembrance of those who sacrificed their lives in the course of the Great War. To mark its joint World War I heritage with Limnos, the Australian Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee and the RSL (Returned Services League) have commissioned the creation of a bronze statue of a nurse and soldier in Limnos, which is to be erected in the Albert Pak district of Melbourne on August 8 this year.

Numerous initiatives have been taken both in Australia and Limnos island in order to preserve this integral part of Australian and Greek history and thousands of Australian and New Zealand visitors are expected to come to the island as a result of this year’s ANZAC Day centenary.


Remembering the ANZAC in Limnos: A Year of Celebrations

To mark the ANZAC Day centenary, an array of events has been planned by the “Lemnos Friends of ANZAC” Association and is set to unravel on the island in the course of 2015:

  • New Museum in Moudros, to include a range of photographs from 1915-6 and a collection of items from that period.
  • New Cultural Center in Portianou to be inaugurated by the end of 2015.
  • New commemorative plaque to be unveiled near the Allied Cemetery of Portianou this year. The plaque represents the two Canadian nurses who worked and lost their lives in Limnos in the Great War. The plaque has been donated by the nation of Canada.

  • Two new mobile applications to assist visitors in their location of monuments and the production of relevant maps for individual use or gift purchase.

    In collaboration with all countries involved in the Gallipoli Campaign, and the North Aegean Prefecture, the unraveling of celebrations on a monthly basis:


  • April 17 - 20, 2015: Official Commemorative Celebration of the centenary of Gallipoli Campaign in Limnos

  • March 7, 2015: Traditional Greek Dances’ Night to be held by the Lyceum of Greek Women in the Clancy Auditorium of New South Wales University, Australia.

  • March 28, 2015 onward: Photographic exhibitions throughout Limnos. This program starts with the first photographic exhibition on the Limnos airport and it will last till end September

  • International Conference organized by the Lemnos Friends of the ANZAC in cooperation with worldwide World War I Veteran Associations.

  • June 20 - 23, 2015: A four-day-long presentation of international historical films in collaboration with all countries involved, the History of the Hellenic Army and Greek Director Nikos Volonakis.

  • July 17 & 18, 2015: The Lemnos Gallipoli Project, a presentation of contemporary artworks representing women’s experience of the First World War, to include the premiere of ‘Women at War’, a modern opera by Greek- Australian composer Tasos Ioannidis.

  • July 20 - 23, 2015: Musical events with DJs and orchestras to commence in the Limnos location of Paleo Pedino, a stone-built village frequently mentioned in the journals of the Australian nurses that served in Limnos in the course of the campaign of Gallipoli.

  • August 5 - 11, 2015: Presentation of national and local traditional costumes worn in each of the countries that participated in the campaign of Gallipoli at the start of the 20th century at the Greek Culture National Museum of Limnos

  • End of August: A 4-day Wine-making Conference to celebrate the importance of wine production in the culture and economy of Limnos.

  • September 6 - 8, 2015: Conference of the Commonwealth countries Red Cross Services in collaboration with the Red Crescent on the theme of ‘The use of nurses during World War I’. Mrs Clare Ashton (the ANZAC Sisters Nursery of WWI and the University of Sydney) will be the keynote speaker.

Many more festivities are planned and are in process of creating . The Lemnians’ participation is very big and it seems that 2015 will be a good start to highlight the role that Limnos island has into this historical moment of Gallipoli Campaign



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