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Places to visit in Leros

All the information about sights and places to visit on Leros

Apart from the physical beauty that Leros offers the visitor, there are also plenty of things to do and see. There are museums that one can visit , such as the archaeological museum, the folklore museum and the Virgin of the Castle museum.

There are also many archaeological sights which are of interest, such as the castle above Agia Marina, the old castle with its cyclopean walls, Lakki with its unique architecture and the Italian fortifications. At Gourna the picturesque little church of Agios Isidoros can be found.

At Platanos and Agia Marina there are many neoclassical two storied houses, at Alinta there is the Patriarheio and the Belenis Tower which now houses the museum of  Manolis Isihos,  Churches also worthy of note are Agia Paraskevi and Evagelistria.

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What to see in Leros

the-castle-and-windmillsA good way to discover Leros, with its rolling hills and large quiet bays, is to climb about 200 meters up the hill above the town of Platanos and admire the view from the Castle.
The coves of the island offer quiet beaches protected by tamarisks and the string of villages guarantees delicious stops in the local taverns.
For those who are not afraid of the heat, there is also a network of paths that cover the entire island.
Sitting at sunset in a bar in Agia Marina, while the light plays on the sea, it becomes easy to believe that this is all true.

The most important monuments of the Historical Times are the fortification works (probably of the Milesians) in Xirokampos and Partheni (4th century BC). During the Early Christian years (5th-7th century) settlements were organized in mainly coastal places of Leros, and intense building activity was developed (numerous ecclesiastical and secular buildings).

The Castle of Leros

leros-castleFrom Platanos we go up the steps towards the castle which dominates high on the hill. Crowds of people follow the same route every 15th August to go up and pay their respects to the Panagia tou Kastrou (The Virgin Mary of The Castle).

During the Knighthood, in the 15th century, parts of the Byzantine fortifications were strengthened and the outer precinct of the castle was built (the two inner precincts date back to the Middle Byzantine Period). From the churches of the castle, in the Middle Byzantine Age, the Holy Trinity may have been founded (it bears frescoes of the 15th century), while the rest were built during the Knighthood. The Virgin of the Castle was built around the end of the 17th century.

The Paliokastro

The oldest castle in the history of Leros is the castle of the Lepida (Paliokastro) which is located on the top of the hill above Xirokampos. The church of Panagia, which is found in its interior, was built in the 4th Century A.D. and was later renovated. In its forecourt there is a half destroyed mosaic which has lasted till today. The walls to the north east are cyclopean, according to archaeologists, because the stones are square and each one weighs about 500 kilos.

Agia Kioura

The church of Agia Kioura is located behind the bay of Partheni in a wonderful totally blue, small bay. The idea of painting the icons in it came from Manolis Glezos, Kyriakos Tsakiris and Andonis Karagiannis who were political prisoners at the Army base of Partheni in Leros during the seven year dictatorship of Greece.The Ministry of Culture declared Agia Kioura a monument for preservation and a work of art.

The Painting of Icons in Agia Kioura
The idea to paint icons in St Kioura came from Manoli Glezo, Kyriakos Tsakiris and Andonis Karagiannis who were political prisoners in the Army base at Partheni on Leros during the period of 1967 – 1972. The idea was made known to the commander of the base, Mr. Panagiotis Spirakis, who along with his approval of the idea, gained the permission of the Bishop Isidoros. In turn father Meletios suggested the renovation and painting of icons in the country chapel of Agia Kioura or Matrona which were near the army base.

agia-kioura-icons

The artistic value of the works

It is a fact that the icon painting in St Kiouras has been characterized as a monument of the resistance of certain intellectuals to the autocratic regime of the Greek dictatorship, through the means of Art. Although no one can deny this characterisation, neither can anyone deny the artistic value of the work. As models for the icons simple men and women were used from Leros, priests and even policemen were used. In this way twenty small and large works of art were created.

These icons break away from the traditional Byzantine artistic style. From the start of the work, the Lerians warmly embraced the work of the inmates, trying to support them with material and moral support. The Lerians stance on this was of great significance if we take into account the hard years of dictatorship. In the end the responsibility for the icon painting was given to the artists Kyriakos Tsakiris, Andonis Karagiannis and Takis Tzaneteas.

The works lasted eight months ( they were completed in 1970 ), consisting of exhausting work, up to twelve hours a day, constantly under the eye of the three prison guards who supervised the inmates, all under terrible working conditions. The conclusion of the work revealed a true masterpiece of contemporary art. The works distinguish themselves through both their distinct style and unique energy where contemporary man is reflected through the faces of the saints, his pain and his steadfastness, his greatness and his grandeur, as K. Tsakiris himself says. This work of Art has been commended from time to time by intellectual circles in Greece and abroad.

Belenis Tower

belenis-towerIn Alinda is the Belleni tower, which houses the Historical – Folklore Museum “Manolis Isychos”.

A preserved monument with elements of medieval architecture, the tower was built by the wealthy expatriate and benefactor of Leros Parisi Belleni (1871-1957) during the years 1925-1927.

Here is housed as well  the Historical & Folklore Museum of the island, with works by the political prisoner, artist Kyriakos Tsakiris, the same one who painted together with the other inmates, Agia Kioura. You will also see some items by the pianist George Themelis, the cover from the Treaty of Sevres, the watch from the legendary destroyer “Queen Olga”

Panagia Kavouradena

panagia-kavbouradenaPanagia Kavouradaina located in the settlement of Xirokampos, 3.5 km from Lakki, there will be a very small church, inside the rocks. Access is by many steps. You will see an image of the Virgin Mary in which a crab is depicted holding the Virgin Mary in its calipers.

According to tradition, a fisherman when he was bitten by a crab saw an image of the Virgin Mary opposite him, on the rocks and took it with him.
He took her to the village church, but the icon, the next day, returned to the rocks. A small church was then built on this site.

A second version of how the church was built is the following: many years ago two fishermen from Kalymnos set out one day to go fishing. The bad weather however did not allow them to fish for long. When the wind started blowing and the weather got worse they decided to moor at Diapori. So that they would not waste a night’s fishing they decided to fish near the beach with a harpoon to catch an octopus or anything they found in by the light of their fishing lamp.

As they looked down to the seabed they discerned a big group of crabs. When they filled their fishing baskets with crabs, and they had prepared to leave, a miracle happened: A piece of wood rose to the surface at the exact spot where they were fishing, although the currents were pushing it behind their boat.

They stopped, full of curiosity, and took it out of the water. When they cleaned it, they saw that it was the icon of “Panagia”. They kissed the icon and crossed themselves. In the morning, when they arrived in Kalymnos, they both went home. One taking the basket with the crabs and the other the icon of “Panagia”. He hung it in a corner of his house and left a small olive oil lamp alight next to it. On the third night while the fisherman was sleeping, he saw the “Panagia” in his sleep and she said to him: “Take me to Leros and build me a little church, where you found me. Don’t forget to do it!” When he woke up, the fisherman told his friend and they set off for Leros.

They arrived at the rocks of Diapori. They tied up their boat and they went to find Lerian builders to build a church. When it was built they placed the icon of “Panagia” on the wooden iconostasis. A few days later, they returned to Kalymnos satisfied that they had realized the “Panagia’s ” wish. However, three days later the fisherman saw “Panagia” in his sleep, whose eyes were full of pain and with an angry look on her face, saying to him: “My child, you set me up well in my corner. Go back again and build me the church where you found me. I’m waiting for you”.

The Kalymnian was at a loss when he arrived in Leros and saw the church demolished. He tried to find the icon of the “Panagia”, unsuccessfully. Disappointed he took the road to Xirokampos. To his great surprise he saw the icon against the rocks a little further away from the demolished church. The fisherman thought that as the “Panagia” wanted that spot to be where her church was, there it must be built. This is how it happened and is still located there, up until today. We celebrate her greatness every year on the 8th of September.

Agios Isidoros

agios isidorosThe most picturesque small church of Leros. On the top of a rock connected to the coast by a small bridge over the water, is one of the most photographed places of the island. Whitewashed with a red dome and a small yard outside the church.

Located at the area of Kokkali in the west part of the island. You can get there by taxi, car or a bike. Head to the road from the Alinda crossing to the Airport, after Kamara you will see a sign to Agios Isidoros. Folllow the road that passes through a nice landscape and turn to the left.

The church is dedicated to Saint Isidoros and the locals use it for marriages and babtism celebrations. It is remarcable that many Lerian have the name Isidoros or Sideris and Isidora.

The war museums

There are two war museums on the island today, which attract the interest of visitors. The first, which belongs to the municipality of Leros, is housed in the Tunnel of Merkia and the private Museum of War Finds of the collector Ioannis Paraponiaris.

Both exhibits in their showcases starter material and other objects that were found scattered on the island or retrieved from its seas and are related to the Battle of Leros and beyond.

leros-the-war-museum