Some words about the island

The charming island of Ai Stratis or Agios Efstratios (Saint Efstratius) is situated between Lemnos and Lesvos islands in the northeast Aegean Sea. It owes its name to Saint Efstratios who lived and died there in exile. The sole village of the island located on the west side is ideal for relaxing holidays.The rare geological formations, the pristine beaches, the sea caves and the small forest compose the natural environment of the island. The island is volcanic and its ground hilly. The largest plain is in the position where the modern village is built, below the hill of Agios Minas. Narrow valleys and gullies are formed between the hills and stretch smoothly to the western coast, forming gorgeous beaches and offering great sunsets. The whole island, with the surrounding sea area and rocky islets has been included in the Natura 2000 network as a Site of Community Importance. In the area Avlakia there is an extensive oak forest, one the few remaining in the Aegean Sea area. The forest stretches below the long cliff on the NE coast of the island leading to an equally long beach, forming a significant ecosystem with sand dunes entering far into the land. The island’s marine ecosystem is particularly diverse, as indicated by the extensive prairies of Neptunegrass (Posidonia) and the presence of the Mediterranean Monachus monachus monk seal which dwells in the sea caves existing in many spots on the rocky island. Unfortunately Agios Efstratios used to be known as a place of exile during the dictatorship in Greece. The old village was built right on the harbour, to the left of the rock. It had about five hundred houses, all two or three stories high. These are typical examples of the architectural style of the north-eastern Aegean: built of stone with covered walkways, supported by wooden poles, but also a lot of neoclassical buildings. A good example of a neoclassical building is the Marasleios-Logotheteios school, which was in use as a primary school from 1912- 1968. After the earthquake of 1968, the old village was declared uninhabitable and was entirely moved to the more fertile region of Agios Stratis. Thankfully, some of the stone homes were saved from complete destruction; these were restored with reverence by the locals of Agios Efstratios. Οne of them presently houses the Museum of Democracy, which exhibits objects and artefacts from the life of the political prisoners of the island. The museum is the first public museum of the country dealt with the recent historical period of crucial importance of Greece. There are about three hundred people living in Agios Stratis. They live mainly from fishing, livestock and from agriculture. On the island the re are also a few tavernas and cafés-bars.