Thassos island, Greece
Thassos today is known as the “Emerald Island” due to the lush vegetation and forests that make this island such a beautiful holiday destination. However in ancient Greece it was known as “The Athens of the North”, a title confirming the considerable reputation the island enjoyed. Rich in minerals and natural resources and strategically positioned on the main trade route linking Anatolia and central Greece and beyond, the island has been coveted by all the great powers of antiquity. The Athenians, Spartans, Persians and the Romans all targeted the island for invasion and did so when the opportunity arose.
To delve a little into the fascinating story of the island, a good place to start is the archaeological museum in Thassos Town (known locally as Limenas). Renowned as one of the principle museums in Greece, it is highly recommended for a visit during your stay on the island. The exhibits range from monumental sculptures to the most delicate ancient gold jewelry excavated from sites all over the island. The story of Thassos throughout its history is set out in chronological order as you move from room to room, giving the visitor a fascinating insight into this historically important island.
Limenas is the modern day capital of the island as it was in ancient times, a fact that becomes evident when you explore the town, as around every corner you come face to face with remnants of its ancient past. The main archaeological sites are the agora (ancient marketplace), the sanctuaries to the gods Herakles, Dionysus, Artemis and Poseidon. Venturing up to the acropolis which also offers magnificent views of the town and bay below, you will find the ancient theatre, the remains of the temples to Apollo and Athena and the sanctuary of Pan. Circling Limenas and in easy walking distance from the centre are the remains of the monumental city-wall that rose up to 9 metres high and was predominantly constructed out of gleaming white Thassian marble. Marvel at the gargantuan blocks of stone constructed with such precision that even today a credit card cannot be inserted between them. At intervals around these impenetrable defences were magnificently decorated gates that provided the only entrances to the ‘fairy-tale’ city of white marble within.