(Greek: Λήμνος, Limnos) is an island of Greece in the northern part of the Aegean Sea. The principal town of the island and seat of the municipality is Myrina. At 477 km², it is the 8th-largest island of Greece. Today the island of Lemnos (Limnos) has about 30 villages and settlements. The province includes the island of Agios Efstratios to the southwest which has some exceptional beaches and the only desert in Europe. The climate in Lemnos is mainly Mediterranean. Winters are generally mild, but there will be a snowfall occasionally. Strong winds are a feature of the island, hence its nickname “the wind-ridden one” (in Greek, Ανεμόεσσα). The temperature is typically 2 to 5 degrees Celsius less than in Athens, especially in summertime.
Lemnos is mostly flat (hence its more than 30 sand beaches), but the west, and especially the northwest part, is rough and mountainous (highest elevation: Mount Vigla, 470 m). The chief towns are Myrina, on the western coast, and Moudros on the eastern shore of a large bay in the middle of the island. Myrina (also called Kastro, meaning “castle”) possesses a good harbour, It is the seat of all trade carried on with the mainland. The hillsides afford pasture for sheep, and Lemnos has a strong husbandry tradition, being famous for its Kalathaki Limnou (P.D.O.),( a cheese made from sheep and goat milk) , melipasto cheese, and for its yogurt.
Fruit and vegetables that grow on the island include almonds, figs, melons, watermelons, tomatoes, pumpkins and olives. The main crops are wheat, barley, sesame; in fact Lemnos was Constantinople’s granary during Byzantine times. Lemnos also produces honey (from thyme-fed bees), but, as is the case with most products of a local nature in Greece, the produced quantities are little more than simply sufficient for the local market. Muscat grapes are grown widely, and are used to produce an unusual table wine that is dry yet has a strong Muscat flavor. Since 1985 the variety and quality of Lemnos wines have increased greatly. The island has an excellent airport, possessing a very long runway, a modern fully equipped hospital.
For ancient Greeks, the island was sacred to Hephaestus, god of metallurgy, who— as he tells himself in Iliad I.590ff— fell on Lemnos when Zeus hurled him headlong out of Olympus. Hephaestus’ forge, which was located on Lemnos, as well as the name Aethaleia, sometimes applied to it, points to its volcanic character. It is said that fire occasionally blazed forth from Mosychlos, one of its mountains.
The ancient geographer Pausanias relates that a small island called Chryse, off the Lemnian coast, was swallowed up by the sea. All volcanic action is now extinct.
In another legend, Philoctetes was left on Lemnos by the Greeks on their way to Troy; and there he suffered ten years’ agony from his wounded foot until Odysseus and Neoptolemus induced him to accompany them to Troy.
A passage through History
The ruins of the oldest human settlement in the Aegean Islands found so far have been unearthed in archaeological excavations on Lemnos at the Ouriakos site on the Louri coast of Fyssini in Moudros municipality. The excavation brought to light high quality stone tools, from the Epipaleolithic Period, indicating a settlement of hunters and gatherers and fishermen of the 12th millennium BC.
Homer speaks as if there were one town in the island called Lemnos. In Classical times there were two towns, Myrina (also called Kastro) and Hephaistia,which was the chief town.
As a province of the Byzantine Empire, Lemnos belonged to the theme of the Aegean Sea, and was a target of Saracen raids.
During the last centuries of Byzantium, Lemnos played a prominent role: following the loss of Asia Minor, it was a major source of food, and it played an important role in the recurring civil wars of the 14th century.
During World War I, the Allies in early 1915 used the island to try to capture the Dardanelles Straits, some 50 km away
In late October 1918, the armistice between the Ottoman Empire and the Allies was signed at Moudros.