History

Limnos has a history which goes a long way back to the ancient times. Many and different versions exist for the origin of the name of Limnos which is witnessed indirectly in texts from Mycenae with the word “Lamniae”, which means “Lemnioi” (Limnians).

One scenario claims that the word “Limnos” has a Phoenician origin and it means “White” because of the low mountains and the treeless scenery which makes the island look white to those who come in from the sea. Another scenario claims that it comes from the Homeric word “Leon” which determines the seed field and it’s based on the fact that Limnos has big valleys and cultivable fields. Limnos used to be the grain feeder of Athens in the classical times and the official supplier of wheat for the imperial courtyard of Byzantine.

According the myth when Jupiter got mad and through away from Olympus Efestus, the god of Fire, he fall into Limnos. The ancient habitants of the island, the Sindies, took care of him and in return he taught them his art.

The first King of the island was Thoas, the son of Dionysos and Ariadne, who married Myrina from Iolkos. They had a daughter named Ipsipyli. When the Argonauts arrived to the island on their way to Kolchida they stopped in Limnos and Jason married Ipsipyli; the rest of the Argonauts married other women from Limnos. From that junction a new generation was born in the island.

Limnos has developed to a very important centre of the Trojan civilisation due to its geographical position, its safe ports and its prosperous fields.

Limnos was, also, famous for its “Lemnia soil”, the clay with the heeling properties. It was famous since Herodotos era and it was used even in the times of the Ottoman Empire. 

The most ancient samples of human presence in the island are found in the end of the fourth pre-Christian millennium. Poliochni and Myrina were developed to early Attic centres during the 3rd and the 2nd pre-Christian millennium.

Poliochni in the east coast of the island was discovered the decade of 1930 and it was the most ancient organized city in Europe. With fortified enclosure, organized community areas, stone-built plazas, streets, wells, central warehouses, Poliochni with an area of 30,000 square meters and about 1600 habitants was a real city model. It even had a parliament, perhaps the first one in the world.

Myrina came to light from the trench works of the K’ EFORIA (Yield) of Pre-historic and Classical Antiquities. Bigger than Poliochni, covering an area of approximately 80.000 square meters and with a population that reached the 3000 – 4000 habitants the time of its highest peak, it was developed among the beach of “Richa Nera”. It had a sewerage disposal with stone-built tubes, streets with soil and small stone-built paths. 

Its impressive castle is still dominant for centuries in a fort position. One of the best reserved in the Aegean Sea, it was used through centuries by all the conquerors that passed from the island, the Byzantines, the Venetians and the Turks.   

Other important archaeological sights of the island are Ifaisteia, the major city of Limnos in the classical times and the holy temple of Kaveiria, a place of worship. 

Ancient Ifaisteia with the sacred temple of the big goddess of necropolis and the Hellenistic probably theatre is timed from copper, the Stone Age. The sacred temple of Kaveiria, of the descendants of Efestus, was a worship place with very intense mystic character. Every year the Kaveiria Mysteries were celebrated for the revival of nature and fertility. At its coast there is the cave of mythical Philoktitis who was deserted by his colleagues during their expedition to Troy. 

Limnos played an important role in the recent history, too. In October 1912 it became the first island of the archipelago which was liberated from the Turks and it contributed to the liberation of the rest of the Aegean islands. Moudros with its natural port was the anchor point of the Greek Fleet during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. This was the starting point for P. Kountouriotis for the big naval battles of Elle and Limnos. From Limnos also started the observation of the positions of the Turkish Fleet, with the hydroplanes “Nautilus” and “Mich. Moutousis” in their first aviation mission. In A’ World War the island was used as nautical, aero space and hospital base of the Alliance. 

Samples of ancient civilizations can be found in Agios Efstratios and the areas of Alonitsi, the hill of Agios Minas and the Evraiki where the remains of prehistoric settlement, ancient city and ancient necropolis can be found equivalently.