Greece // The Dodecanese //


As the island of LÉROS is indented with deep, sheltered bays, lined with little settlements, it doesn’t have an obvious “capital”. Ferries arrive at both Lakkí on the west coast and Ayía Marína on the east, but neither is recommended as a place to stay. Instead visitors congregate in the resorts of Pandélli and Álinda, and in more refined Plátanos up on the hillside. While Léros can be very attractive, however, it doesn’t hold spectacular beaches, so tourism remains relatively low-key.

The island still bears traces of the Battle of Léros of November 1943, when German paratroops displaced a Commonwealth division that had occupied Léros following the Italian capitulation. Bomb nose-cones and shell casings turn up as gaily painted garden ornaments, or do duty as gateposts. After the war, the local economy relied on prisons and sanatoria in former Italian military buildings. During the civil war and the later junta, leftists were confined to a notorious detention centre at Parthéni, while hospitals warehoused intractable psychiatric cases and mentally handicapped children. In 1989, a major scandal exposed conditions in the asylums; most wards were eventually closed.

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