Beautiful Lesvos with many streams, rich flora and fauna, famous olives groves, mild climate, charming traditional villages and remarkable examples of industrial architecture (olive presses, soap factories, tanneries) dating from the island’s industrial development in the 19th century, impress all visitors.
Lesvos, is also known for the unique Petrified Forest covering the Sigri-Eressos-Antissa area, which has been designated a preserved natural monument. The forest was fossilised 15-20 million years ago due to intense volcanic activity in the area. It is one of the rarest natural monuments in the world (the only similar ecosystems today are the coniferous forests in north America) and is visited by thousands of tourists each year.
Lesvos is the third biggest island in Greece, after Crete and Evia, with an area of 1,630km² and a coastline of 370km. It has 90,000 residents and is famous for two products, ouzo and olive oil, and for its writers and artists.
In prehistoric times, the island was called Lassia due to its luxuriant forest vegetation. It was also called Imerti (delicious), Pelasgia, Eolida and Makaria. The name Lesvos was from the mythical hero Lesvos who came here from Thessaly in Central Greece and married Mythimna, a daughter of the settler Makaras. During prehistoric times, Lesvos was a significant cultural centre in the northeast Aegean, and it flourished economically, commercially and culturally during Archaic times (7th-6th century BC).
During the 1821 Greek War of Independence, many of the island’s residents were fighters and members of the Filiki Etairia (Society of Friends). Lesvos became part of Greece in 1912. Many refugees from the Asia Minor coast settled on the island after the Asia Minor Disaster (1922), and the population exchange agreement.
The contribution of Lesvos to Greek arts and letters has been invaluable. Eminent personalities such as Arion, Terpandos, Theophrastos, Pittakos Mitilineos, Theophilos, Ilias Venezis, Stratis Myrivilis, Argyris Eftaliotis, Georgios Iakovidis and Stratis Eleftheriadis were born here. Additionally, the Nobel prizewinning poet Odysseas Elytis was descended from an old industrial family from Lesvos.
Mytilini is the capital of Lesvos with approximately 30,000 residents. It is one of the most ancient Greek cities, the administrative centre and the seat of Lesvos Prefecture, the Aegean Marine Ministry, the North Aegean Region and the Aegean University. It extends over seven hills and traditional houses coexist harmonically with neoclassic mansions, Byzantine temples, refugee neighbourhoods and ancient monuments.
Mytilini connects by sea to the port of Piraeus and by air to the Athens airport.