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Prefecture: Lesvos Prefecture
Capital: Myrina

39.8/39°42' N lat.
26° E long

476 km²
Population: (2001)
 around 17,000 Total
 - Density¹
 - Rank


 about 36/km²

Aegean Sea
central part
Area/distance code: 11-30-22540
Percent of the prefectural population: about 18 to 20%
Percent of the prefectural area: about 25%
Postal code: 814 xx
Municipalities: 4
Communities: 1
Municipal code: -x
Car designation: MH
Name of inhabitants: Lemnian sing.
-s pl.
Website: www.lemnos.gr

Lemnos (mod. Limnos Greek: Λήμνος), an island in the northern part of the Aegean Sea. The island, part of the prefecture of Lesvos, is of considerable size: the area has been estimated at 476 km² (150 sq.mi). A great part is mountainous, but some very fertile valleys exist. The hillsides afford pasture for sheep. A few mulberry and fruit trees grow, but no olives. The chief towns are Myrina on the western coast, and Moudros on the southern coast. Myrina (aka Kastro) possesses an excellent harbour, and is the seat of all the trade carried on with the island.

Mythic Limnos

In ancient times the island was sacred to Hephaestus, who as the legend tells fell on Limnos when his father Zeus hurled him headlong out of Olympus. There he was cared for by the Sinties, according to Iliad I:590ff or by Thetis (Apollodorus, Library I:3.5), and there with a Thracian nymph Cabiro (a daughter of Proteus) he fathered a tribe called the Cabiroides. Sacred rites dedicated to them were performed in the island.

Hephaestus' forge, which was located on Limnos, 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; and Pausanias relates that a small island called Chryse, off the Limnian coast, was swallowed up by the sea. All volcanic action is now extinct.

The name Limnos is said by Hecataeus to have been a title of Cybele among the Thracians, and the earliest inhabitants are said to have been a Thracian tribe, called by the Greeks Sinties, i.e. "the robbers".n

Apollodorus (Epitome I:9) records that when Dionysus found Ariadne abandoned on Naxos, he brought her to Lemnos and there fathered Thoas, Staphylus, Oenopion, and Peparethus. Pliny the Elder in his Natural History (xxxvi. 13) speaks of a remarkable labyrinth in Lemnos, which has not been identified in modern times.

According to a famous legend the women were all deserted by their husbands for Thracian women, and in revenge they murdered every man on the island. From this barbarous act, the expression Limnian deeds became proverbial. The Argonauts landing soon after found only women in the island, ruled over by Hypsipyle, daughter of the old king Thoas. From the Argonauts and the Lemnian women were descended the race called Minyae, whose king Euneus, son of Jason and Hypsipyle, sent wine and provisions to the Greeks at Troy. The Minyae were expelled by a Pelasgian tribe who came from Attica. The historical element underlying these traditions is probably that the original Thracian people were gradually brought into communication with the Greeks as navigation began to unite the scattered islands of the Aegean; the Thracian inhabitants were primitive in comparison with the Greek mariners.

The worship of Cybele was characteristic of Thrace, whither it spread from Asia Minor at a very early period, and it deserves notice that Hypsipyle and Myrina (the name of one of the chief towns) are Amazon names, which are always connected with Asiatic Cybele-worship.

In another legend localized in Limnos, Philoctetes was left there 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. He is said by Sophocles to have lived beside Mount Hermaeus, which Aeschylus makes one of the beacon points to flash the news of Troy's downfall home to Argos.

Historical Limnos

Homer speaks as if there were one town in the island called Limnos, but in historical times there was no such place. There were two towns, Myrina, now Kastro, and Hephaestia. The latter was the chief town; its coins are found in considerable number, the types being sometimes the Athenian goddess and her owl, sometimes native religious symbols, the caps of the Dioscuri, Apollo, etc. Few coins of Myrina are known. They belong to the period of Attic occupation, and bear Athenian types. A few coins are also known which bear the name, not of either city, but of the whole island.

A trace of the pre-Greek language, Limnian, is found on a 6th century inscription on a funerary stele, the Lemnos stele.

Coming down to a better authenticated period, we find that Limnos was conquered by Otanes, one of the generals of Darius I of Persia but was soon (510 BC) reconquered by Miltiades, the tyrant of the Thracian Chersonese. Miltiades afterwards returned to Athens, and Lemnos continued an Athenian possession till the Macedonian empire absorbed it. The Romans declared it free in 197 BC, but gave it over in 166 to Athens, which retained nominal possession of it till the whole of Greece was made a Roman province. After the division of the empire, Limnos passed under the Byzantine emperors; it shared in the vicissitudes of the eastern provinces, being alternately in the power of Greeks, Italians and Turks, till finally the Turkish sultans became supreme in the Aegean. In 1476 the Venetians and Greek Byzantines successfully defended Kotschinos against a Turkish siege; but in 1657 Kastro was captured by the Turks after a siege of sixty-three days. Kastro was again besieged by Russia in 1770. In 1912, Limnos became part of Greece during the First Balkan War.

Modern Limnos

Today's Limnos is an island that has about 30 villages and settlements. The province includes the island of Agios Efstratios to the southwest. It is an island with some exceptional beaches and the only desert in Europe. The warm, welcoming attitude of the people and the excellent cuisine and slow pace of life combined with the stark beauty of the landscape makes the island the ideal destination for vacations. Furthermore, modern Limnos is a military base of Greece as it stands on a strategically important part of the Aegean Sea.


Its climate is mainly Mediterranean and Winters are generally mild. Strong winds are a feature of the area during the Autumn.


Municipality YPES code Seat Postal code Area code ((0)30-)
Atsiki 3504 Atsiki 814 01 22530
Moudros 3512 Moudros 814 01 22520-7
Myrina 3513 Myrina 814 00 22540-2
Nea Koutali 3515 Kontia 814 00 22540-5


Commune YPES code Seat Postal code Area code ((0)30-)
Agios Efstratios 3502 Agios Efstratios 815 00 22540-9

External links