Thassos (Θάσος) Island - Center

With an area of almost 400000 km² and a permanent population around 14000 people, situated in the Norhern Aegean Sea (Αιγαίο Πέλαγος), close to the coast of Thrace (Θράκη) - in The Thracian Sea (Θρακικό Πέλαγος) - Thassos (Thasos/Θάσος) is one of the best places to see during a summer holiday.

Thassos is a very rich in history place. The island has been inhabited since the Paleolithic, with more important archaeological findings beginning with the Bronze Age (around 1000 BC). Being colonized at an early date by Phoenicians because its natural resources (especially gold, as Herodotus/Ἡρόδοτος mentioned), Thasos took an active part in the war conflicts from the antiquity (such as the wars against the Persians or the conflict with the Athenians) and later became part of the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire. From 1462 Thassos was part of the Ottoman Empire and from 1820 was given to Muhammad Ali of Egypt. For a short period of time (1941-1944) Thasos, along with the rest of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, was under Bulgarian control. The island was the place of internal skirmishes during the Greek Civil War until 1950.

One can enjoy in Thassos of both mountain and sea, all no more that a couple of kilometers from each other. The coastline is full of resorts for all tastes, although rather peaceful ones (and I like that), while the center of the island is wilder, with old olive groves, pine and fir forests and small shrubs. It's worth mentioning that Thassos is also called the Emerald Island because of the sea which is greener (than the Ionian Sea for example, but still clear and salty), and also because of the green inland part.

In this post I'll try to cover the central part of the island, while in the next one the coastal attractions. One piece of advice, before venturing in the mountains without a guide please check out this map. It's the best map of the island, and much much better than the "touristic maps" you'll be able to find there. Most of the roads from inside the island have no markings, are bumpy, some narrow and steep, and always winding, so getting lost is possible (luckily the island isn't that big). Make sure you have an appropriate vehicle (4x4 or ATV) and enough gas.

1) Maries Lake (λίμνη Μαριών)

The best road from inside the island is the one going through the village of Maries towards Ipsario Mountain. It's paved only part of the way but overall, it's the best you will get. (Tip: From Skala Marion (Σκάλα Μαριών) the road to Maries goes under the main road that circles the island.) While Maries is one of the oldest and most beautiful villages in Thassos, dating back to the Middle Ages, the natural reservation near Lake Maries, just a couple km away is a wonderful place with fish and waterfalls and it's the only lake on the island.

2) Mountain Ipsarion/Ypsario or Ipsarion (Υψάριο)

This is the highest point of the island (1026m). As I mentioned before, an off-road vehicle is recommended but from Maries you can reach Mount Ipsario even with a normal car (the higher the ground clearance the better) if you drive slowly and stick to the road. There's also a road from Theologos, but that one really needs an off-road vehicle. The shortest trekking routes are from Potamia. Nevertheless, the view from the top is definitely worth the trip.

Nearby you can also see the shelter of the mountaineering club of Thassos on a small plateau at 922m.

3) Kastro (Κάστρο)

Kastro is the main attraction for the so called "Safari trips" mainly due to the bad roads and its remote location. Situated inside of the island the village once had a protected position during the times of piracy. The village was abandoned mainly due to the opening of the mines by the German company Spiedel, founding the town of Limenaria. Nowadays it is in the process of being rebuilt in thassian traditional style. It became a touristic attraction, with one tavern and the small church of St. Athanasius (Άγιος Ἀθανάσιος), surrounded by fortified walls. There's also the cemetery of Profitis Ilias with lots of old bones.

4) Prehistoric Cemetery of Larnaki and Kastri site (around here).

At the entrance in Theologos there is a sign leading you on a dirt road on the left. Passing by a small church and after about 1 hour of (slowly) driving on a dirty/rocky road you can reach one of the oldest archaeological sites on the island. There isn't much to see nowadays besides some (really old) tombs, but this is really the wildest and pristine part of the island I have seen.

5) Theologos (Θεολόγος) Village

Placed towards the center of the island and easily reached by a main asphalt road, the village of Theologos (Θεολόγος) is the starting point for reaching some of the above locations and the place to go for trekking in Thassos. It is also one of the oldest settlements on the island. Things to see: the church of Agios Dimitrios (1803), the church of Panagia (1833), a centuries old bridge, a watermill and a folkloric museum in the mansion of the mayor Chatzigeorgiou.

1 comment:

Özer Utku said...

Was a natural swimming pool on the island of Thassos fascinates me. I wrote on my blog now.