Leros is a Greek island in the Dodecanese in the Aegean Sea. The municipality of Leros includes a populated offshore island called Farmakonisi and several uninhabited islets including Kinaros and Levitha. The island is well-known for its large medieval castle of the Knights of Saint John. This castle may have been built on a Byzantine fortress.
During the Peloponnesian War, the island of Leros supported the democratic Athenians. After the war, Leros would come under the sovereignty of the Spartans. The island then followed the fate of the other Dodecanese Islands during the years of Alexander the Great, the Roman years, and the Byzantine period. When the Roman Empire divided, the island of Leros was part of the Byzantine Empire. Julius Caesar was held hostage for forty days by local pirates on the island of Farmaco, which is east of Leros.
From 1916 – 1918, the British used the island of Leros as a naval base. In the Venizelos-Tittoni Agreement of 1919, Leros was returned to Greece, but after the Greek defeat in the Greco-Turkish War, Italy cancelled this agreement and Italy would be in possession of Leros and the other Dodecanese Islands. The Italians would remain on the island for 31 years during which time they would fortify the island. Because of it’s position and large natural harbours, Leros made the perfect naval base. Mussolini would call Leros “the Corregidor of the Mediterranean,” as he saw the island as a crucial base for Italian domination of the eastern Aegean Sea.
After World War II, the buildings of Leros were transformed for different uses. In 1959, the mental hospital of Leros would be founded. The island would also become a place where dissenters would be exiled. Old Italian barracks on the island of Leros would be used as an internment camp.
Administrative Region for Leros Island, Greece
Area of Leros Island, Greece
74.17 km2 (28.64 sq mi)
Population of Leros Island, Greece
Top Attractions of Leros Island, Greece
Traditional Windmills – Located in Pandeli. These old windmills will give you a vision into that past when they were used to convert wind into more useful energy. Many of these old windmills have been restored.
Medieval Castle – Located in Pandeli, this castle overlooks the capital of Leros. The castle was built by the Byzantines and offers a view of the mountains and sea. It is also known as Castle of Our Lady.
War Museum of Leros – This museum is in Lakkiand house in an old tunnel built by the Italians during WWII. Museum is open to visitors in the morning. Has a collection of guns, bombs, helmets, uniforms, and more.
Agia Marina Beach – 2 km north of Platanos. Agia Marina is a popular resort on the island, so there are plenty of tourist facilities in the area. The beach is family friendly with soft sand and crystal waters as well as beautiful natural scenery.
Gourna Beach – 7 km west of Platanos. This beach is calm and protected from strong winds.Gourna is one of the longest beaches on the island. The sand is dark and the water is crystal clear and shallow.
Historical and Folklore Museum – Located near Alinda. The museum is housed in Bellenis Tower. Collections include old maps, manuscripts, traditional instruments, and photographs from World War II.
Paleokastro – Located in Xirokambos, an old seaside village. Paleokastro is the oldest in the history of the island of Leros. The castle was built on the ruins of an ancient acropolis, which dates back to 2500 BC.
Church of Agios Isidoros – This church sits on the islet of Alinda. It is connected to land by a narrow passage. The church is built on the site of an ancient temple, which can still be seen behind the altar.
Blefoutis Beach – Located 9 km northwest of Platanos on the northern side of the island. This is one of the more tranquil beaches on the island. The water is deep blue and the beach is sheltered from the winds.
Dioliskaria Beach – 7 km from Platanos, this beach can be reached via a path from the main road. The beach is secluded, so if you’re looking for privacy, this is a good choice. The shore is long and clean, the water is blue, and there are taverns and restaurants nearby.