The Desert of Greece - Sand Dunes (Ammothines): A unique and unexpected desert sight in Greece

The Lemnos desert is an anti-oasis on an otherwise lush Greek island. It is just 17 acres in size, but just like its larger counterparts, the Sahara or the Namib, it is constantly changing shape and dimension with the wind. This can make for incredible dunes, mountains of sand known locally as “pacchies ammoudies,” or “thick sands.” 

The soft yellow sand is carried by the wind from the beaches nearby and deposited here, in the crook between the two extinct volcanos that make up the island of Lemnos. If the wind is strong enough, one can see waves in the dunes, like a great sandy ocean.

It might seem like a barren landscape, but in actuality the dunes play host to a large variety of local fauna, especially wild rabbits who hop out around sundown. Additionally, white lilies sprout right from the sand, while olive trees flank the edge of the desert. 

Walking straight from lush forest vegetation into the arid desert lends visitors a feeling of otherworldly fantasy. Indeed, Lemnos appears in Ancient Greek mythology as Hephaestus’ home when Zeus expelled him from Olympus. Perhaps because of this ethereal feeling, or because of the island’s variety of landscapes, many film directors have shot their desert scenes on Lemnos.

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