Leros the Navarone Island
There are many reasons for a holiday in Leros. One of these is that the
island has a great history during the second world war and the remnants of this
war and its battles are to be seen in many parts of the island. Leros was used
from the Italians as their main naval base in the east Mediterranean sea because
the island's main port Lakki is the largest natural port in the east
In the 30's Leros had a population of ca 30000 people, including the Italian army, officers with their families, and the inhabitants of the island (all of the Dodecanese where occupied from the Italians since 1912). The port of Lakki is a unique sample of Mussolini's Art Deco architecture and every of its buildings is a monument of that era. Many Greek and foreign intellectuals wonder why there haven't been any efforts until now from the local authorities to make Lakki a protected historical inheritance.
Leros in fact is the island of Navarone. The Great battle of Leros during the second world war probably inspired Alistair MacLean to write the guns of Navarone. The battle of Leros lasted for almost 50 days and nights from the 23 of September 1943 to the 16th of November 1943, when the German forces Launch the operation Leopard to capture the island from the Italian and the British forces after Italy's capitulation in 1943. See pictures of the battle here
Talking about the Navarone island for those who have seen the film though the setting was in Rhodes and the name is just fictional, as you enter the port of Lakki the two capes especially the north one where the Italians had their defence guns and fortifications, has an absolute similarity with the film settings. There is a unique German video from this operation bellow.
During the battle of Leros numerous aircrafts of the Luftwaffe and RAF where hit
and sunk in the sea around Leros as well as many war ships., therefore has a
unique underwater museum ready to be explored by divers who will find a unique
experience exploring all those sunken war remnants. There is also a war museum
build in a war tunnel at the area of Lakki, Merkies, with many items from the
battle like guns, helmets, uniforms and other memorabilia. The war museum
reminds a mini Dover museum to those that have been there..
Leros belongs to those islands of hidden Greece with a special character. Undiscovered from the major package tour operators it has kept its originality and traditions simultaneously with the development of its tourist industry.
Although the island lived many years neglected and unknown to the foreign and Greek tourism, Leros has become a favourite for many tourists who found here a real paradise because the island is very different from the usual touristy Greek islands in the Dodecanese and the Cyclades.
Leros is green, has excellent road network and is one of the unique Greek
islands that is alive during winter and summer, something that you wont find
elsewhere except in some large islands such as Samos and Crete.
This is mainly due to the fact that the island has many public services which employ a large proportion of its population. Do not look strange if you find that Leros is the richest island of Greece in per capita income after the island Crete . For these reasons the island did not rely solely on tourism like many other Greek islands.
In recent years the Greeks and foreigners have discovered this small paradise, and many bought holiday houses and villas and some of them live permanent on the island.
Leros has a very good tourist infrastructure, many hotels, apartments, rooms and
a camping. Beautiful beaches and perfect roads where you can drive and visit all
the resorts of the island in less than an hour. Most of the roads are covered on
both sides with eucalyptus and pine trees and make a nice driving experience.
The island has many sights to see and many taverns to enjoy fresh fish and Greek food. Many of the inhabitants of the coastal villages engaged in fishing. The island is one of the best fishing grounds in the Aegean, so that you will not miss from Leros is the fish, the lobster, and the seafood read more about Leros in our main Leros article.
useful links, www.lerosisland.com and the battle of Leros at http://www.leros.org/lerostouristhttp/the-battle-of-leros.html