One of the most historical islands, Samothraki is situated in the northeastern Aegean 29 nautical miles south of Alexandroupolis. The island is 180 square kilometers and has about 3000 inhabitants.
The island's very high mountain, Saos, is the most impressive sight, and the first thing that appears as your ship sails towards the island.
HOW TO GO THERE
BY FERRYBOAT from Kavalla all the year round about 5 hours.
BY FERRYBOAT from Alexandroupolis all the year round total time about 3 hours. Kavalla and Alexandroupolis can be reached either by air or by car. In the summertime Samothraki is connected by ferry with all the other islands of the eastern Aegean.
The first settlers date from the end of the Neolithic age, about 3000 BC. Legend has it that they were Pelasgoi, descendants of Zeus.The first settler was called Saon. Dardanos, Iasion and Armonia, children of Zeus from Electra, daughter of Atlas were born there. Dardanos was the patriarch of the Trojan people.
In the Bronze Age the Thacians inhabited the island and about 700 BC. Aeoleis settled and built Palaeopolis. The island flourished during the Archaic period -- the 7th and 6th centuries BC. Palaeopolis became a religious centre of the north Aegean and the Great Gods had their shrine there. It was also the centre of the Kavirian Mysteries which were for Northern Greece as famous as the Eleusinian Mysteries. Herodotus, King Philip, Cicero and other known personalities were introduced to these Mysteries. According to myth it is here that during the mystic ceremonies Olympia the wife of Philip conceived Alexander the Great, so that in later years Alexander claimed that he was the son of God Zeus.
The Great Goddess , who some identify as Demeter or Ecate or Kyvelli was worshipped here. During Hellenistic times the sanctuary of the Great Gods was at its height until 84 BC when it was destroyed. It flourished again during the Roman period until its destruction by an earthquake.
During the years that followed the inhabitants, in order to avoid the pirates, moved inland into the very high mountain, Saos, where the Chora is now. Consequently the island passed to the Genoese in 1430, to the Turks in 1457, was destroyed in 1821 and finally it was freed in the First World War and was united to the motherland.
Omiros (Homer), the greatest poet , in his epic poem "The Iliad" , mentions that Poseidon was sitting on top of the mountain Saos watching the Trojan War on the opposite shore of the land of Priamos (Priam).
WHAT TO SEE
1. The ancient Palaeopolis together with the ruins of the shrine of the Great Gods. This is where the famous sculpture, the Victory of Samothrace now in the Louvre, was found. A visit to this place and to the Archaeological museum next to it is a must.
2.The Chora, built in the mountain , with narrow stone streets, only for pedestrians, and the ruins of the venetian castle.
3.Therma with thermal springs .
4.Quite a few waterfalls are very impressive.
WHERE TO STAY
There is a sufficient number of hotels in Kamariotissa which is the island's port, as well as in Kariotes, Therma, and Palaeopolis. There are also a number of rented rooms and apartments in Chora and in the other villages.
WHAT TO EAT
The food is good traditional Greek food but as goats are plentiful on the island many dishes are basically cooked with tender young goats.
There are taxis and a bus service connects all villages in the island.
Samothraki is neither modern nor cosmopolitan. The people are simple, friendly, hospitable, human.The island is clean, quiet and peaceful. The visitor feels the Great Gods are walking with him in Palaeopolis or in the narrow stone-bedded streets of Chora climbimg up towards the castle. For the romantic, who appreciate a really beautiful sunset, for those possessing the necessary imagination that makes mythology real and alive, for those who love history and feel nostalgic towards the past, this island is one of the best choices they can make.
Copyright: Hellenic Electronic Center
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