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In ancient times, according to myth, Limnos, a volcanic island, was the home of the god Hephaistos and his most important place of worship. The islandís history is long; two of its cities, Mirina and Hephaistia, were extremely prosperous during antiquity.

Today, the islandís capital, still called Mirina, or Kastro, sits at the back of the bay in exactly the same location as its ancient namesake. A Venetian castle presides over its characteristic captainsí houses adorned with wooden balconies. Mirina has an important Archaeological Museum with finds from the region as well as from Hephaistia, Cabeiria and Poliochne. Representing every period from the prehistoric to the Hellenistic, they consist primarily of relief works, idols, pottery and sculptures.

The second largest town is Moudros, 25 kilometres east of Mirina, one of the safest anchorages in the Aegean. During World War I it was used as a base of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, which launched its attack on the Dardanelles from here in 1915. Taking Moudros as a starting point, it is possible to visit all the islandís archaeological sites. A dirt road to the northeast leads to a rocky promontory with the ruins of Hephaistia, Limnosís leading city in antiquity.

Excavations have brought to light sanctuaries of the 5th and 4th century B.C. and the necropolis with Greek, Roman and Byzantine tombs. Three kilometres further north at a place called Chloe there are the Archaic and Hellenistic remains of the Sanctuary of the Cabeirians. East of Moudros near Kaminia you will find the ruins of ancient Poliochne, where seven successive settlements have been excavated, one dating back to the Neolithic, the others to the Early Bronze Age.

Finally, north of Moudros is the site of the Byzantine state of Kotsika with its fortress. This is where Maroula, the heroine of Limnos, died fighting the Turks in 1478. On the east side of the island, at Hortorolimni, there is a large stretch of marshland, a major habitat for rare birds. The road continues on from here to the tip of Limnos and the fishing hamlet of Plaka with its monastery dedicated to Aghios Haralambos.

Jumping over to the southern tip of the island and another monastery, Aghios Sostis, where there is a big celebration every September 7th, one enters a desert landscape with sand dunes, so unusual for Greece that it has been dubbed ďthe Sahara of LimnosĒ. The islandís inland road network, asphalted as far as Moudros, leads to picturesque seaside and mountain villages, such as Livadohori, Atsiki with its interesting view of the Gulf of Pournia and tavernas serving fresh fish, and Nea Koutali with its marvelous empty beaches, delightful tavernas and sponge-fishing caiques anchored offshore.

Those not deterred by dirt roads will want to explore still further.

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Mr. Babis Doukakis (we speek greek, english or german)