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The island of Lesvos

Church of Mermaid Madonna - Skala Sykaminias

Church of Mermaid Madonna – Skala Sykaminias

Lesbos was the ancient home of the poetess Sappho (7th century B.C.), and today her love for the island still lives on in the hearts of its inhabitants. Lesbos was an important part of the Mediterranean trading routes, and was known for its wine, figs, and its contributions to Greek and Roman culture.

Mytilene (pop. 30,000), the capital of Lesbos, is an ancient city with a bustling and exciting metropolitan flavor. Enormous 19th century mansions are nestled into the hillsides of this ancient Greek and Roman center of trade. Museums offer the chance to explore ancient history or modern art, and restaurants facing the harbor offer a relaxing and refreshing place from which to watch people, pets, and boats make their way along the shore.

Lesbos is not only famous for its role as a center for cultural activities and trade, but it is well known for its Olive Oil. The island is covered by a carpet of 11 million olive trees. The olive groves of Lesbos produce an excellent olive oil whose light and nutty flavor enhances any salad or dish.

Another famous produce of Lesbos is an aperitif called Ouzo which contains aniseed and alcohol. Ouzo’s licorice-like taste evokes summer afternoons and good company for many Greeks.

Lesbos is world-renowned as a capital for bird watchers. Home to home to more than 200 species of birds, the island hosts a unique combination of indigenous and migratory birds. Within the past five years, Lesbos has become home to a flock of migratory Flamingos, in addition to the many thousands of other birds who pass through here every year!

Of course, birding is not the sole attraction of Lesbos. Swimming, hiking, and biking are other activities that lend themselves well to this island with azure waters.

The island’s location on a volcanic ridge endows it with many natural hot springs. Noted by Greek and Roman historians for their healing qualities, these springs are still regarded by some as having curative powers. For the non-believer, they still offer immense relaxation.

At Eftalou, near Molyvos, there is a hot spring whose temperature reaches 46° C (114.8° F).

The volcanic ridge also provided Lesbos with the oldest indigenous petrified forest on Earth. Overlooking the marvelous bay of Sigri, the natural history museum offers guided tours of the forest as well as information on the geological history of the island. The newly-built museum offers information in both English and Greek, and is located at about 90 km (56 miles) from Molyvos.

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