Lesvos is also know for a lot of tourists as Lesbos and together with Samos, Chios, Ikaria, Limnos, Fourni, Psara, Inousses, Agios Efstratios and Thimena consist the northeastern Aegean islands, with their administrative headquarters located in Mytilene. It is the third largest Greek island, behind Crete and Euboea, with a total area of 1636 sq km, 370 km of coastline and a population that reaches 100.000 residents. Geographically, Lesvos is only a few miles away from the northwest Turkish coastline. The island’s capital city is Mytilene (Mytilini) which is built amphitheatrically at its southeast side and has approximately 27.247 residents. Administratively, Lesvos consists the headquarters of the north Aegean region, in which parts according to the implementation of Kallikrates, yet houses Aegean Ministry General Secrecy and five departments of the Aegean University.
Lesvos county is very rich in culture and history beginning in the antiquity and reaching our days. It has kept alive and original its tradition and customs, characteristics that highlight this island into a jewel of the Aegean.
Lesvos is fairly referred to as the island of peace and beauty, since it offers an excellent view with its overgrown of olive trees, pines, chestnuts and oaks, confirming that untouched natural beauty. Both of its gulfs, Kalloni and Gera, are famous, just like the valleys of Kalloni. Gera, Eresos and Ippios, where the wealth of the local fauna and flora is met.
The beauty of this island, is full filled by its beaches and bays with their crystal clear water, as well as its caves- of which the most important is Agios Bartholomeos, located at Megaras in Alyfanta and Fousa. Lesvos also stands out due to its famous hot springs. Specifically, the hot spring’s in Polychnitos water temperature actually reaches 81 Celcius degrees.
We surely couldn’t skip mentioning the mountains of the rural area of Sigri and Eresos, where the Petrified Forest of pine trees forms about 12 million years ago and yet still exists.
Geo-morphologically, the central and west part of the island are covered by volcanic rocks, which were formed by the intense volcanic activity in the area about 20 million years ago. The explosions made through the centuries had as a result most of the island to be covered by lava.
Special interest is presented by the petrified trunks found to the shores and in the sea and catch the attention of many geologists as well as paleontologists. Wetlands found on Lesvos are also of great importance and that is why some of them are included in the NATURA 2000 project.
The island’s highest peak is mount Olympus in the area of Agiasos, followed by Lepetymnos and Psilokoudouno.
Lesvos climate is mild Mediterranean with sunshine throughout the year. Most of the residents are engaged in olive cultivation producing fine quality of virgin olive oil, in agriculture in the fertile fields producing excellent wine, while in the northern and western part of the island, are engaged in farming and fishing.
The island’s nature and location, made it repeatedly target of the powerful ones but at the same time contributed to developing a special intellectual culture. Lesvos, becomes a gate to the East, with routes in West. This is obvious in all its culture.
Since the antiquity, this island has a great history in arts and literature as well as economic development, while it is considered to be the mother town of lyric poetry which had been developed in the 7th and 6th century BC.
It is worth mentioning some of the greatest spiritual personalities that lived in Lesvos:
Terpandros (700 BC) from Antissa, is considered to be the first creator of lyric poetry, guitarist and inventor of the seven-string lira, and the one that perfected Nomos (“the Law”), a kind of song written to honor god Apollo. Arionas (625 BC), an important lyric poet and guitarist, is the holdover of Terpandros, Alkaios (700 BC) and Sappho (715 BC) from Eresos, are thought to be the founders of lyric poetry, since they were the first to compose poems accompanied by Lira. Alkaios, enlightened the political troubles of his era through his poems. Sappho‘s poetry, deals with everyday’s issues and stand out because their passion and sensuality. She was named the “Tenth Muse” of the antiquity and her masterpiece “Ode to Aphrodite” highlighted her poetic value and contributed to her reputation.
Pittakos (648 BC), who will later be considered as one of the seven antiquity’s wise men and the famous philosopher Theofrastus (372 BC), are only a few of the many spiritual expressionists of Lesvos.
The intellectual tradition of the island has even subsequent holdovers, such as Veniamin the Lesvian (18th century AD) who was a great teacher of our nation, Stratis Myrivilis, prosaist, Ilias Venezis and Argyris Eftaliotis, writers, Odysseas Elytis a poet awarded with the Nobel prize, Theofilos Chatzimichail, a great folk painter from Vareia, aother painter and sculptor, George Iackovides from Chidira and of course the famous art publisher Stratis Eleutheriades- Teriade is not to be forgotten.
Having raised in her arms all those significant persons of arts and literature, Lesvos has shown not only a great past but an even worthy present through her offer to culture, since it never stopped, even in the late years, being a field of development and action of very important representatives.
Lesvos is widely considered as the mother town of Ouzo, because of the existence of the famous distillery in it. Many of the residents are also involved with tourism, which flourishes especially in summer, since Lesvos is fairly considered, apart from a touristic destination, as the ultimate way of escaping off urban centers, offering the visitor quality vacations. It is easy to say that the island is a mixture of East and West, being «a ship completely decorated with flowers», as Stratis Myrivilis (a famous Lesvian writer) had successfully commented.