Ayvalik and Pergamon
Our last stop in Turkey before formally checking-out was Ayvalik. Along with Dave and Melinda of “Sassoon” we rented a car for a tour of the ancient Greek city of Pergamon. The city reached its height of greatness under the Romans, and had a library second only to Alexandria. We also visited the Sanctuary of Asclepius founded by Galen the physician.
We formally entered Greece at Mytilene the main city of the island of Lesbos. Lesbos is the third largest Greek island and Mytilene is by far the largest city on Lesbos. Half of all Lesbians live in Mytilene. We rented a car for a day and toured the coast up to the beautiful town of Molyvos and then down the center of the island back to Mytilene. Olive trees everywhere you look.
We sailed to the island of Psara after a stopover at Ormos Tarti on the southeast coast of Lesbos. This is a beautiful but barren island with only 350 permanent residents. It had been a prosperous island centered around shipping early in the 19th century, having the third largest Greek fleet. Its citizens joined the Greek War of Independence in 1821 and its ships were effective in harrying Turkish vessels. In retaliation, the Ottoman Turkish navy stormed the island in June 1824 and began to massacre its citizens. On July 4, 1824, the few hundred citizens of Psara that remained alive in a fortress threw down a flag reading “Liberty or Death” and when the Ottoman Turks entered the fortress, the Greek defenders purposely set off a huge explosion killing themselves and many Turks. Greek survivors were either killed or sent off into slavery. The “”Liberty or Death” flag flies on every boat in Psara harbor and those who died are listed on the four sides of a monument.