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|The secret island called Leros|
Leros island is a part of the island group called the Dodecanese. It is situated in the Agean Sea between Patmos and Kalymnos and belongs to Greece. The island has a little over 8000 inhabitants, is 15 kilometers in lenght and it is about 53 km2 in size. Leros is an island with green hills and fertile valleys and beaches. Agia Marina is the capitol and is set on a hill. On the other side of the hill are the villages of Pandeli and Platanos, that are interconnected with the capitol. Three kilometers south of the capitol is the main harbour of Leros island. This harbour is well known as one of the largest and best natural harbours of the Mediteranean Sea. Leros is not known for its beautiful long beaches. One of the longest beaches can be found at the village of Alinda and it is about 300 meters long. On the other side the lack of large beaches on the island has insured that Leros has not become a destination for mass tourism. Most of the beaches are small and unspoiled. Only in the west of the island in the Bay of Gourna there are some larger beaches. Leros is more an island for peace and quiet and for romance, than for beachbeds and parosols, or discotheques and commercialism. There is hardly any tourism like on the other islands. Leros with its cozy bays is rather undiscovered and the island has an intimate feeling. The inhabitants are not really occupied with tourism, and some want to keep it a secret. Leros is an island with postcard villages and in my point of view maybe the friendliest people of all the island I have been on.
Most of the tourists leave the island as it is and do not visit it. The islands Kalymnos in the south and Patmos in the north attract many more tourists, allthough Leros is really quite charming. Only during the high season it can get busy in the more populair coastal resorts.
The Italians have build many art deco structures on Leros and so the island feels more Italian that Greek on some places. Other parts are again typically Greek, so you will get a bit of both.
The infra-structure on the island is very good, also because during the occupation by the Italians in the twenties and thirties good roads were build. These roads were used by the military and they have trees alongside of them. In te area of Lakki the roads are also quite broad, but inside the villages it is the same as it is in most villages on the Greek islands and they can get quite narrow.
In 1943 the island was attacked and conquered by the Germans, who thought the island important because of the good and safe harbours (especially Lakki that is situated in a deep bay). At the siege 5000 people were killed. Thus there are many Brittish graveyards on the island.
Between 1967 and 1974 at the time of the colonels regime political prisoners were put into jails on the island, and after that institutes for mentally handicapped were opened on Leros. All of this has contributed to the bad reputation of the island, and it is also one of the reasons why it sees so little visitors. All in all Leros is an island with an unlucky history. The reputation Leros is a bit unfair, because personally I did not notice any of this.
There is a busconnection between Lakki and the chora in Platanos but it is very bad. The three kilometer long ride is better made by (cheap) taxi. The rest of Leros is fertile, quiet and is hardly visited thanks to the bad public transport. It seems like a wise idea to rent a car on Leros, but also a motorcycle or even a bicycle is a good plan if you want to explore the island.
|Hotels on the island of Leros in Greece|
On Leros there are less hotels than on the surrounding islands, defenitely compared to closeby islands like Samos and Kos, where the choice of hotels is much wider. For our spring 2007 trip our attention was drawn to the Archontiko Angelou hotel in the village of Alinda. This hotel is a based in a luxuerously styled Italian villa, and some people that live on Leros described it as the most romantic spot on Leros where you can have breakfast in the flowergarden. The hotel looked beautiful, so on Leros it would be a couple of days of luxuery for us. I emailed with Marianna, the owner, a couple of times and always received an answer quickly. She was talking about "her guesthouse", but I thought it looked more like a small Italian palazzo.
At first we had to look around a bit because we had missed the small square red sign on the telephone pole on the Alinda boulevard, that directs you to the hotel, but when we found it it was actually quite easy to get there. The reception from Marianna's aunt (Maria) and a lady from Switzerland (Chris, she speakt fluently French) was very warm. Our beautiful room was on the ground floor of the building. Archontiko Angelou turmed out to be a relaxed and quiet place, that was very tastefully decorated, and with nice seats and tables on each terrace and in the flower garden. Maybe this was in fact the prettiest spot on the island of Leros that we have seen and the house was magnificent. We were completely pampered by all the people that worked here, especially in the mornings after you had just woken up and you sat down on the terrace. Within no time there would be a special breakfast served with all kinds of things that they had made themselves: home made confiture, pancakes with bananas, fresh fruitsalads, fresh orange juice, good coffee, home made cookies and cakes, fresh bread...well: really top and so much fun, and what a way to start the day. All the time we were there everybody was always looking after us and nothing was too much to ask.
Archontiko Angelou is a bit more expensive than what we usually spend on a hotel, but if you want to spoil yourself like we wanted to do for a couple of days than this is the place you want to go to. It is defenitely worth it. The service and the ambiance make this hotel the best on the island.
Send an e-mail to the hotel Archontiko Angelou.
|Hotel Elefteria on the island of Leros in Greece|
Hotel Elefteria is situated in Platanos, the main town of Leros Island. It offers a large outdoor pool and a roof garden with exquisite view of the Castle of Pandeli. Located between Agia Marina and Pandeli, Elefteria is within walking distance of the island's most beautiful beaches. Shops and restaurants are easily reached. Hotel Elefteria offers basic rooms, all with air conditioning, refrigerator, private bathroom and balcony. A full-service restaurant is available all day serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the hotel's roof garden guests can enjoy the unique view, while relaxing with a drink. Greek nights with dancing and barbeques are hosted regularly.
Check availabilities and prices & book the Elefteria Hotel on Leros - click here.
Hotels and apartments on Leros - click here.
|Hotel Panteli on the island of Leros in Greece|
This newly built hotel in Panteli Beach offers studios and apartments with wooden rooftops and white-washed walls. It is just a 5 minutes walk from Platanos, the island's capital. The spacious and fully equipped apartments and studios of Panteli Beach have a kitchen and a living room. Each is air-conditioned and further equipped with a safe and TV. The Panteli Beach Hotel is approximately 4 km from the airport and 4 km from the main port of Laki. Cars, scooters and bicycles are available to hire at the hotel. The hotel also features a snack bar, which serves breakfast.
Check availabilities and prices & book the Panteli Hotel on Leros - click here.
Hotels and apartments on Leros - click here.
|The beaches of the island of Leros|
The village of Alinda is situated three kilometers northwest of the capitol Agia Marina and it is the largest tourist-resort on the island of Leros. The facilities are at its best here, with opportunities to watersports and a wide variety from restaurants, apartments, studios and hotels. The largest beach here is Alinda Beach, which is also one of the largest beaches on the island. It has got soft sand and clear waters. In Alinda there are also mini-markets, bars and car rentals. Another of the attractions is the Belenis tower in which a nice museum is situated.
A couple of hundred meters from Alinda Beach is the cozy beach of Panagies, and a bit further down the beach of Lisgaria with its eucalyptus trees. On this beach there are a couple of restaurants and bars where you can have lunch or have a drink. On the way to Alinda is the small Bay of Krithoni where you can yet find another beach. It is a beautiful bay with eucalyptus trees and tamarinds. There are small traditional white houses and some lusuery villas in the bay.
|Other beaches on the island of Leros|
At about two kilometers distance from the capitol is the beach of Pandeli in the bay with the same name. It is a beach with soft sand and some pebbles, where you can find shade under the tamarisk trees. At the beach fish taverna's serve fresh fish and drinks. Pandeli is a traditional fishing village and populair with the locals and the tourists.
The beach of Koulouki is the beach that is the nearest to the most important harbour of Leros (Lakki). It is a sandbeach, but it is very close to the ferries and all the other traffic that sails in and out of the harbour. to avoid this you can go to the smal sandy beach of Merikia which is a few kilometers further away. Lakki, with its buildings in the Itaian Architecture (Art-Deco from the twenties and thirties), is a rather new village and also the commercial center of the island, with lots of shops, supermarkets, internet cafes, restaurants, hotels and apartments.
The beach of Agia Marina is situated in front of the village with the same name. It is the beach of the capitol of Leros, and it is near the harbour. The beach is sandy. Agia Marina is the second harbour of Leros. This village is not build in an Italian style, but is more a traditional kind of Greek island village, that can easily compete with other pretty main villages on other islands, with its charm and architecture. There are traditional white houses and there are narrow alleys and stairs. From Agia Marina there are also ferries leaving or several islands like Patmos, Lipsi, Samos, Kos, Kalymnos, Symi, Rhodes and Nysiros. In the village there are plenty of shops, travel agencies, bars, interbet cafes, mini markets, hotels and apartments.
The beach of Vromolithos is situated in the Bay of Pandeli, on a short distance from the beach of Pandeli. On the sandy beach there are small colored pebbled and there are oaktrees to lay down in the shade. They say that this is the best place on the island to see the sunrise. In Vromolithos you can also find hotels, apartments, restaurants, mini markets and bars.
The Bay of Partheni is west of the bay of Blefoutis, on the northside of the island of Leros. The main beach of the bay is a little bit less attractive as the next door beach of Blefoutis, but the waters are clean and clear. There are some smaller beaches in the area, sometimes with soft sand and sometimes with pebbles. Partheni is an authentic Greek fishermens villages, It is situated in one of the best protected bays of Leros because of the small islands opposite of it. Currently they are building a big harbour there for hundreds of yachts, mainly with the intention to berth them there during the winter season.
The beach of Blefoutis can be found in the bay with the same name, in the north of Leros. It is a good and nice sandbeach with tamarisk trees. The water here has a beautiful blue color and there are not such high waves. At the beach there is a good fishrestaurant.
The beautiful beach of Xirokambos is also situated in a bay with the same name, 7 kilometers south of Agia Marina, in the soutwest of the island of Leros. It is a popular destination for people that make a daytrip from the nearby island of Kalymnos. The beach has soft golden sand and there are trees on the beach for shadow. Close to the beach is the beautiful small church of Panagis Kavuradena. Another attraction is the Palaiokastro where you can see the remains of an old castle. In Xirokambos there is the camping and there are some hotels and apartments.
In the Bay of Gourna on the westcoast of the island you can find the largest sandbeaches of Leros. It is less developped than the resorts at the eastcoast, so ideal for people that are looking for peace and quiet. The main beach in the bay is the beach of Gourna. It has got dark colored and black sand and the sea is shallow, so it's easy to get into the water. In this part of the island you can make the best pictures of the sunset. The area looks a bit like the Cycladic islands of Paros and Naxos. In the bay of Gourna is also the church od Agios Isidoros on a small rock about 50 meters in the sea. This church is a favorite subject for photographers. There is a possibillity to walk to the church.
|The sights on the island of Leros|
Lakki with its art deco buildings. At the harbourfront there is a monument in memory of the sinking of a Greek marine-ship after a bombardment by the Germans in the Second Word War on the 26th of September 1942. In Lakki there is also the Church of St. John the Evangelist (Aghios Ioannis Theologos), one of the most interesting of its kind in the whole of the Dodecanese, with some beautiful mosaics from the 11th century. In Lakki is also the warmuseum.
Platanos - Aghia Marina - Panteli. The Brouzi fortres, build on the remains of an antique city that was once situated in the mouth of the bay where Agia Marina is.
Partheni, close to the airport, where they believe there was once a temple of Diana (Artemis). Lots still have to be escavated here.
The Paleokastro: this is the oldest castle in the history of Leros and it is situated on the top of a hill near Xirokambos. The Church of Panagia (The Holy Virgin Maria), is inside the fortres, and derives from the 4th century AD. On a later date the church has been renovated. The stones at the north side of the fortres are square and weigh about kilo each.
The Church of Agios Isidoros in the Bay of Gourna, that is standing in the sea.
|The history of the island of Leros|
The first inhabitants of the island of Leros were the Parthians in the neolitical period between 8000 and 3000 BC. The Phoenicians and Minoans (from Crete) lived on the island untill they were chased away by the Dorians. After the Persian wars Leros became a member of the Athenian Alliance.
In Byzantine times lots of beautiful churches were build on the island and the castle op Lepides (Paliokastro) was build. In 1314 Leros was occupied by the Knights of Saint John of Rhodes untill in 1523 the Turks invaded the island.
Between 1912 and 1943 the island was occupied by the Italians who erected lots of buildings and put a big mark on the architecture. They turned the island into an Italian marine basis. The new town of Lakki was born. Only in 1948 Leros became a part of modern Greece again. All the large buildings that were created during the reign of Mussolini were deserted, and the Greek government send people with psychich problems to the island to house them there (in Lakki). Many inhabitants of Leros found a job in the clinics. This last fact stops a lot of people from travelling to the island. I had read about this before I visited Leros but I did not notice anything about it when I was there, so this shouldn't keep you from visiting this nice, quiet island.
|How to get to Leros?|
Leros island has got an airport with daily connections to Athens (Olympic). From Leros there are also daily ferries to Piraeus and most of the Greek islands in the Dodecanese, like Patmos, kalymnos, Samos, Rhodes and Kos. The closest international airports are at Kos and Samos, so it would make sense to fly from Holland, Belgium or another country to one of those two islands, instead of making the long ferry journey from Pireaus. You could easily combine a visit to Leros with another island if you like to hop islands.