The history of LEROS is dense. unlike the other islands of DODEKANISOS its history is more contemporary than antiquity, including the naval battle of leros during World War II and then the deportation of political prisoners to the regime of the Colonels. More recently, LEROS was a transit point for Syrian migrants, according to mythology, the island remained at the bottom of the sea until the Artemis (goddess of The Hunt) and selene (goddess of the moon) persuaded APOLLO (god of light to help them get out of the water


The first inhabitants of LEROS,the Cariens, were driven out by the Cretans and then by the Ionians. It became a pirate to the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the Byzantines fought for supremacy in 1309. The conflict turned to the advantage of the order, which took two centuries to occupy the island.


In 1505 and 1508, the Ottomans tried several unsuccessful sieges of Leros Castle. Legend has that the island was saved by the last surviving knight, 18 years old. He would have dressed women and children of armour who simulated a large garrison, were allegedly deceived and abducted the Ottomans. On 24 December 1522, after the siege of RODOS, a treaty was signed between Sultan Suleiman and the grand master of the knights, Philippe de Villiers of Isle-Adam: LEROS, like all the possessions of the Aegean Sea of the order, passed into the hands of the Ottomans who administered it for four hundred years.


During the Greek Revolution (1821-1830), many Leriotes participated in the struggle, the island being an important base for the revival of the Greek Navy. Incorporated briefly into the republic of GREECE, it became under OTTOMAN rule again during the Treaty of Constantinople of 1832.


In 1912, after the Italian-Turkish war, leros passed like the rest of DODEKANISOS from Ottoman occupation to Italian occupation. During this period, the Italians made numerous large-scale designs, such as the naval base of Leros and the city of Porto Lago (now Lakki). This island was chosen for its strategic importance and geomorphology with many well protected natural peers.

During the Second World War, it was the battlefield of a major offensive in 1943 when the Germans tried to retake the island of the ITALIANS (who had just changed sides), the English and the Greeks. He was severely bombarded for over a month and a half from September 26 to November 16 when he finally fell into the hands of the enemy. It was this battle that inspired the battle of LEROS in the film “The Guns of Navarone. The Bay of Lakki housed a large submarine base and the deepest natural port of the Mediterranean Sea, hence its strategic importance for the German forces in the Mediterranean.

During this occupation, the Greeks took refuge in Platanos (because of the tree in the middle of the square) and so there are therefore historically two important cities on the island: PLATANOS and LAKKI In the other islands there chorio (the village in Greek) which is the main city. At LEROS, Lakki was the stronghold of the Italian occupation under the name port-Lago. The advantages of the bay with in particular the most important depth of the Mediterranean make the closed side have made it a stronghold of the occupying armies (but still today with a large submarine base of the Greek army). The city of Lakki is typically of architectural influence and Italian organization. You can also see Mussolini’s summer residence on the foothills of the mountain on the other side of the bay.

After the war, Leros, like the rest of the Dodekanisos, was finally attached to Greece on 7 March 1948, seven centuries after the end of Byzantine domination after the war, the Greek governments reassigned many military buildings. Leros Psychiatric Hospital was founded in 1959. During the military junta (1967-1974), the former barracks were transformed into a concentration camp to accommodate political dissidents in the Pikpa hospital in Leros: Leros became an island of seclusion and exile.

In 1989, the living conditions of the mentally ill and the numerous cases of ill-treatment sparked a global scandal, notably with the British newspaper’s report on the Guardian. Félix Guattari was part of an international delegation that visited the leros asylum. He denounced this situation to de leros in borders and to the Journal De Leros. During the years 1989 to 1994, the European Union and the Greek Ministry of Health set up a programme of general reform of psychiatric assistance in Greece. But twenty years after its creation, a BBC report revealed the flaws of this reform.

At BLEFOUTIS and LAKKI you can dive to see the many wrecks on both sides, so the fighting is fierce. The film “the canons of navarro is the inspiration of the battle of leros with the squares of the cannons (very difficult to access, they are not where everyone says!))

To this day, it is forbidden to take pictures on the east coast of the island because of the military defenses of the border with TURKEY and intense underwater traffic.

Today, remember – you that this bunker with these goats that graze is the gateway to the European Union and the Schengen zone.

You can see many commemorative stelae, a British military cemetery and LEROS WAR MUSEUM in MERIKIA. Every year in September, a naval commemoration takes place in the port of LAKKI. Even if   inevitably the number of veterans decreases over time the stelae and military cemetery welcomes many   people who come to gather.


The history of Leros is again marked by the migration crisis in the same way as 5 islands that are KOS, CHIOS, LESVOS and SAMOS with the impact of
migration hot-spot
that have been able to raise up to 4000 refugees in LEROS