The history of Lemnos: All you need to know

Lemnos island town

The history of Lemnos is an extraordinary one; stretching far back into the ancient times, the island’s geographical position played a strategic role to the evolution of its cultural and historical course. Located in the northern part of the Aegean Sea, placed between Mount Athos and the shores of Asia Minor, Lemnos was inhabited since the prehistoric times; archeological findings indicate that the settlement of Poliochni was founded in the 4 century BC and evolved into the first fortified state of the European continent. The island of Lemnos is also mentioned numerous times in the epics of Homer, due to its famous wine and trade of copper.

Widely famous for its vivid volcanic activity, Lemnos was also considered the island of the Olympic god Hephaestus, husband of Aphrodite. According to Greek mythology, the unfortunate child of Zeus and Hera was thrown to the land of Lemnos during a confrontation between the furious couple, however, he went on to thrive and develop the craft of smithing, bringing valuable knowledge to the mortal kind. His children, the Kaveiroi, were celebrated in mystic worshiping rituals both in Lemnos and in Samothrace.

Lemnos’ first king was the mythical Thoantas who married Myrina, in the honor of which the famous village of the island is named; she gave birth to princess Hipsepilis. During his reign the women of the island neglected the worship of Aphrodite, a fact which brought about the rage of the goddess. It was also one of the many stopping places of Jason and the Argonauts; during a celebration in their honor, the Olympic game of pentathlon was created.

Over the centuries, Lemnos was occupied by various conquerors due to its appealing position; Cretes, Athenians, Spartans and Romans were among the few. During the Vyzantine reign, the ancient traditions begin to fade and the state of Kotzinos is estamblished. In the end of the 15th century the island’s sovereignty passes to the Ottoman Empire where it remains until the mid 19th century; at the time, the Lemnians had already thrived in the domain of trade and had strong links with the developing global market through the Greeks of the Diaspora who flourished economically abroad; the financial prosperity however was severely set back by the historical conjuctures of both the two World Wars and the wave of refugees that arrived upon the island due to the crisis in Asia Minor in the 20s.

However, during the post-war years, the island manages to stand back on it’s feet and quickly gains popularity among the most special tourist attractions of Greece; the natural beauty of the island, the rich historical background as echoed in the unique archeological sites, the world-famous local products and of course, the amazing shores of the Aegean Sea contribute to its allure. Nowadays Lemnos moves forward, enjoying the admiration of those who appreciate its unique nature and history.

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