1. Location, morphology and settings

Farmakonisi, or Farmako, is situated along the Asia Minor coastline, southeast of Agathonisi and 12 miles northeast of Leros. Nowadays, it is actually an arid uninhabited islet with an altitude of 106m. This area has been characterized as an ecosystem of particular biological significance. The islet is arid and waterless. Its shrub vegetation and the sparse cedars, as well as the absence of man and homebred animals, make it a valuable natural sanctuary for migratory water birds, like the rare Aegean seagull and the Eleonora’s Falcon (mavropetritis). Its marine ecosystem is also rich. A few years ago, local economy depended exclusively on fishing. When inshore fishing diminished, the islet was deserted. Nowadays, there is only a manned military guard-house.

2. Historical retrospection

In antiquity, the islet was called Farmakousa. Traces of cyclopean walls, as well as marine findings, attest its strategically significant location. According to Plutarch, pirates from Tragea (Agathonisi) captured Julius Caesar holding him hostage on Farmakonisi. They liberated him after the ransom was paid. After Caesar was liberated, he hunted the pirates and killed them.

Next to the small port are the renowned vaulted structures dating from the 1st century A.D.. Because of the air ducts at their roofs, we assume that they were large store rooms for preserving food.

In 1088, with Alexios Komnenos’s chrysobull the islet was granted to the monastery of Patmos and was used as its pastoral land. Ai-Giorgis (St. George), the islet’s sole church, was built in May 1921. During World Wars I and II, the islet was used as a refuge for the Greek fleet.