In the days when people got sick and no suitable medicine could be found anywhere, there was an island in the eastern North Aegean
that promised hope and healing. Just a small handful of the miraculous volcanic soil of Limnos would – it was said – do the trick and banish the malady.
Today, this very island remains healing in another sense. Though well off the beaten track, its friendly inhabitants, serene, open landscapes and golden sand dunes offer balm to body and soul. And as if these were not enough, there are unusual archaeological sites, romantic castles and scrumptious local products. Among them: abundant, affordable fish and seafood, wonderful wines, honey, cheese and pasta from the land that used to be one of the breadbaskets and vineyards of ancient Greece.
What to do in Limnos
Myrina: A castle town with two seafronts
The castle in Limnos’ principal town occupies a steep, rocky promontory flanked by two seaside neighbourhoods – the Romeiko (Greek) and Turkiko (Turkish) Yialo (shore). One of the island’s major attractions, its only access is from the east. It was erected by the Byzantine emperor Andronikos I Komninos (1118-1185) on the site of older walls, most probably ancient. In the 1970s, the municipality of Rhodes donated to Limnos three deer of the Dama dama species, two does and a buck. They went forth and multiplied and there are now some 50 to 70 deer living freely within the castle walls, adding to the pleasure of your visit.
Poliochni, a prehistoric settlement in the Aegean
Founded in the late 4th-early 3rd millennium BC, on a hillock overlooking Cape Vroskopou, this was one of the most important Neolithic-Bronze Age settlements in the Aegean. It went through so many different building phases in its 2,000-plus years of existence that archaeologists have assigned them colours for clarity – black, blue, green, red, yellow, brown and violet.
The villages of Limnos
Holidays in traditional villages made of genuine stone masterpieces. No matter which one you happen to stop in – from Myrina to Kontopouli, Romanos, Kontia, Katalako – you’ll recognise the art of the stonemason: astonishing finishings, decorative reliefs and walls. The ‘mantra’ of Limnos is not the usual isolated sheepfold or stable you’d find elsewhere. Instead, these are roofed, beautifully efficient farm complexes where humans and animals coexist.
Famous local flavours
Limnos has a long tradition in certain foodstuffs. It’s famous throughout Greece for its dairy products, honey and durum wheat. Look for cheeses (such as melichloro, kaskavali and kalathaki), rusks, whole-wheat flour and handmade noodles, as well as a large variety of wines, red and white, that have a distinctive taste thanks to the volcanic soils. The best known red grape varietal is called Kalambaki or Limnio (Appellation of Controlled Origin). The most popular white is the Muscat of Alexandria. They were famous even in Homer’s day.
Images of Limnos
Hidden gems of Limnos
Hephaistia and the Cabeirian mysteries
Your trip to the North Aegean will include several significant attractions. Discover them all! Hephaistia is what remains of an ancient city that flourished during the 5th and 4th century BC. The god Hephaistos was its protector and it became an important centre of his worship. North of Cape Chloe, you’ll find the celebrated sanctuary of the Cabeirians, also dedicated to the worship of Hephaistos. According to myth, the Cabeiroi were the children of Hephaistos and the sanctuary was the scene of the Cabeirian Mysteries which were related to the rebirth of nature and fertility.
Golden sand dunes
These natural curiosities are found in the northern part of Limnos, covering an area of 70,000 sq m. An extremely rare phenomenon, in Greece at least, this surreal landscape is attracting more and more visitors.
The island with the salt lakes
Near Kontopouli is a wetlands consisting of three lakes – Alyki, Hortarolimni and Asprolimni (or Salt, Grassy and White). Alyki is the largest. It communicates with the sea through a small canal and in summer the seawater dries to produce high-quality salt. All three lakes are under the protection of the EU’s Natura 2000 network, since many migratory birds stop there.