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Day Visits on Leros Greek Island

Leros Day Visits

If the fine beaches and excellent traditional tavernas on Leros aren't enough to keep you occupied during your stay here you'll find plenty of historic sites, ancient castles and pretty churches and chapels to explore.

Stroll round the wide, tree-lined boulevards of the main port of Lakki to marvel at what remains of Mussolini's vision of turning the former island capital into a fascist dream town. The Italians occupied the island between 1912 until the Second World War, setting up a naval base in Lakki Bay (one of the biggest natural harbours in the Mediterranean ). Mussolini ordered his architects and planners to create a showcase town of grandiose Art Deco buildings designed to reflect the "glory" of his fascist regime. These days the neglected buildings look like something out of an abandoned Italian film set. The former Italian naval base at Lepida, to the south of Lakki, is now a state hospital and its grounds contain a mansion once used as the dictator's summer retreat.

In defiance of their Italian masters, the islanders abandoned Lakki and made the village of Platanos their capital. The picturesque, whitewashed village is the main shopping centre of the island and is dominated by the impressive Byzantine Castle of Our Lady. You can reach it via a stepped path leading up from the village's central square - the spectacular view from the battlements makes the climb well worth the effort. The castle houses the medieval church of Panagia tou Kastrou which contains a supposedly miraculous icon and a small museum with various religious artifacts.

Platanos spills down the hill to the working fishing port of Pandeli where you can enjoy a superb fresh fish lunch. The road north leads to the bustling port of Agia Marina which is the arrival and departure point for hydrofoils and catamarans. This is one of the best places to eat on the island and is a popular stopping off point for visiting yachties.

West along the bay from Agia Marina you come to the seaside resort of Krithoni where the well-kept Allied War Graves Cemetery is a poignant place of pilgrimage for families whose loved ones died in the Battle of Leros in 1943. The cemetery contains the graves of 179 British, two Canadian and two South African servicemen who died fighting the Germans after the Italians surrendered.

Relics from the battle can be seen at the Historic and Folk Museum at the nearby beach resort of Alinda. The collection is housed in the twin-towered Belenis Castle which was the former mansion home of the museum's expatriate benefactor Paris Belenis

Seven kilometres north west of Alinda near the airport you'll find the ancient ruins of the Temple of Artemis - the goddess of hunting who reputedly made Leros her home. There's not a great deal to see in terms of an insight into the day-to-day life of a goddess (just some crumbling walls) but the views are dramatic.

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