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Referred by mythology as island of Aeolus, Samothrace (you’ll see it spelt “Samothraki” too) is wreathed by mount Saos, the highest mountain on the Aegean islands; legend has it that Poseidon sat on its top to watch the Troy war. The attractiveness of the island is now made up of the steep peaks of the holy mountain of the ancients (the highest of which – 1.611 metres- is called “Fengari” = “moon”) the pebbly beaches, the streams and rivers, the pristine natural beauty, the famous healing sources, and the archaeological finds.
An island pregnant with history

There is evidence of human activity on the rich with archaeological treasures island since the Neolithic times. But it’s the Kaviria Mysteries – religious event of great importance, equal to that of the Eleusinian Mysteries – that brought the island’s fame to the top. The grandeur of the archaeological prominence of Samothrace stretches over the 50-square-kilometres site of Palaiópolis, at 6,5km from the port of Kamariótissa.

sunset in Samothraki

sunset in Samothraki

Worth visiting:
-The Sanctuary of the Great Gods, site of a pre-Hellenic chthonic cult of Anatolian deities (Cabeiroi). The religious activity in the area spans 1100 years (7th c. BC – 4th c. AD). The major monuments of the Temple Complex are: the Propylon (285-281 BC), a monumental gateway dedicated to the Great Gods by the king of Egypt Ptolemy II Philadelphus, the Sacred Circle (end of 5th c. BC-beginning of 4th c. BC), the votive monument of Philip Arrhidaeus and Alexander IV (323-316 BC), the Anaktoron (1st c. BC), where initiation to the first degree (“myesis”) took place, the Arsinoeion, a large tholos (288-281 BC), the hall of choral dancers (Temenos), a large marble building with a key role in the worship of the Great Gods (c. 340 BC), the Hieron (325-150 BC) used for “epopteia”, the second degree of initiation, a stoa (1st half of the 3rd c. BC) that accommodated the temple visitors, the Nike monument (early 2nd c. BC) where the famous statue stood on a ship’s prow commemorating the victory of Rhodians over the fleet of Antioch III the Great.

-The Archaeological Museum (tel: 25510-41.474), where the archaeological site’s major finds are on display.
-The three-aisled Early Christian basilica (5th-6th c. AD) in commemoration of the visit of the apostle Paul. Only a few traces of its foundations can still be discerned.
-The medieval castle of the Gateluzi family (1431-1433): The castle’s towers stand high on a hill overlooking the sea.

Samothraki in spring

Samothraki in spring

Nature Samothrace
Stunning natural surroundings featuring rich vegetation among lakes and rivers will be etched on your mind forever. What is really special to the northern part of the island is its microclimate which favours a flora pandemonium. High altimeters are prevailed by plane, oak, cedar, and chestnut trees, while the lower parts look like a jungle of shrubs: over 20 species of them grow on Samothrace. Where the land is suitable for grazing, the wind bears the aromas of nature: thyme, oregano, and other herbs.

The island was once covered almost exclusively by oaks. The Martini Forest, lying between Therma and Karyotes, is a perfect example of what is left from that period.
Hundreds of crystal watered streams flow from mount Saos to rush through the forests all the way to the sea. On their way, they form waterfalls and stone basins, the so called “váthres”. As a matter of fact, the streams and the waterfalls are the landmarks of the island. A pair of the best of those are the stream of Foniás (=”killer”) and its tallest waterfall (Kleidwsi – 35m high). A nature wonder in the form of a waterfall is situated in the Northeast; it’s Kremastó. The water there goes through some iron rocks to obtain a sweet, reddish colour before fiercely ending into the sea. Behind the water mass there is a cave to be explored. Other well-known waterfalls are Kakiá Pláka, Karyá, and Griá Váthra.
Along the north and the eastern coastline there are wetlands formed seasonally. Migratory birds call at the mouth of Foniás, at the wetland of Vdelolimni, whereas the lagoon of Agios Andreas near Kamariótissa is popular with birdwatchers.

But don’t forget you are on an island with rugged, mostly pebbly beaches, some of which are accessible only by boat. The beach of the Gardens with the black and gray shiny pebbles stands out. In the south, there is the only sandy –thus most cosmopolitan- beach of the island, Pachia Ammos (= “thick sand”) where you can marvel at the –perched-on-a-steep-rock chapel of Panagia Krimniotissa. Rent a boat here for a tour around the otherwise inaccessible areas of Katárti, Spiliés, Váto, Kremastó, Grias ta Paniá, and Gyalí. The fascinating bottom of the sea and the underwater life abundance appear transparent through the crystal clear waters.

Waterfall fonias

Waterfall fonias

An alternative tourism paradise
The imposing mountainous heart of the island paired with its pristine nature are just what explorers and adventure lovers could ever wish for: crossing gorges, trekking, mountaineering, mountain bike, paragliding, rafting, kayak, diving will be amongst your choices if you want to go active.
But Mother Nature has been generous to Samothrace in geothermal richness too: sulphurous therapeutic thermal springs welcome you to the village of Therma and to the spa facilities, where Greeks and foreigners seek and find health and wellness.

In the arms of hospitality
Chóra, a traditional village hanging on steep slopes, is the enchanting capital of Samothrace. Its cobbled streets lead high on the hill to the medieval castle of the Gateluzi family. The Folklore Museum and the Church of the Assumption (1875) are worth a visit here.
The busy port of Samothrace is Kamariótissa. Apart from being the point of sea connection with Alexandroupolis (in Thrace) it is also the starting point for the roads leading to all the villages on the island; Lakkoma, Profítis Ilías and Therma are some of them

Greek history – Samothrace
Chora (Samothrace) is located 5 km east of the port, built among hills so as to be protected from the winds and thief raids, which were very common during the last centuries. At one end of Chora you will see the Byzantine castle towering on a natural rocky hill. It was built during the 10th century and expanded in 1430 by Genoese conquerors from Gattilusi island. In 1456 Samothrace became part of the Ottoman empire. Its houses, are two-storied with tiled roofs (some of them preserve the old earthen roofs) are built in such a way that one provides shade to the other. In Chora you will also find a Folklore Museum housed in a renovated residence next to the church. The settlement was declared “traditional” in 1978 and is of great architectural interest.

The history of this island is lost in the depth of centuries. The first inhabitants of Samothrace were Pelasgians, but during the historic years Ionians and Aeolians lived together on the island. During the 7th century B.C., they built a series of towns on the facing shore, the “Samothriika teichea” (the walls of Samothrace) as named by Herodotus: Messimvria, Dri, Zoni, Sali, etc.

The island was a major religious center for the whole ancient world of the Mediterranean, thanks to the reputation of the Sanctuary of Great Gods and the mystical character of their worship. The Great Gods were also known as Kabeiroi and one can still see their sanctuary in the ancient town at “Paliapoli” at the northern part of the island and not far from Kamariotissa.

Samothrace Dance Festival
Cool fluvial pools in dense forests with century old plane trees, imposing mountain tops, gorges and immense pure blue-green beaches. Samothrace offers natural sceneries for alternative vacations that do not remind you of an island at all. If it seems to you very far away, we will tell you one more good reason to visit the island: Samothrace Dance Festival, the ultimate beach event for the fans of electronic music which takes place under the moonlight from the 22nd until the 26th of August.

Monasteries – Samothrace
The relics of the five venerable neomartyrs of Samothrace are kept at the church of Koimisi tis Theotokou of the island. In Paleopolis, visitors can see the remains of a Paleochristian basilica, which was built to commemorate the visit of Apostle Paul to Samothrace.

Archeological Museum
The Archeological museum of Samothraki includes findings from excavations that took place during the 20th century in the ancient town (Paleapoli). Together with the findings the museum exhibits the model of Nike of Samothrake.
The museum has the following halls:
Hall 1: Restored archeological parts of Sanctum buildings.
Hall 2: Restored architectural parts, sculptures and coins taken from the Sanctum.
Hall 3: Sculptures, miniatures and ceramics taken from the Sanctum and the ancient city.
Hall 4: Findings from necropolis.
Atrium: Inscriptions.
Working hours Daily: 08:30-15:00
Bank holidays: 15th of August, 28th of October: 08:30-15:00
City/Post code: 680 02 Paleopoli of Samothrake.
Tel.: 25510 – 41474

Folklore Museum – Samothrace
The Folklore Museum of Samothrace opened in 1985. In May 1999 changed its structure and was enriched with new findings. Nowadays the ground and first floors present to the visitors view various exhibits.

beach in Samothraki

beach in Samothraki

On foot – Samothrace
Samothrace is a lush green place with very rich vegetation. The most common trees are olive, oak, chestnut, plane and bush trees. The mount Saos or Saoki with its imposing peak, Feggari (1670 m) is a real challenge for climbers. Near Loutra, in a region with dense vegetation you will find natural pools, known as Vathres. The ravishing scenery of exceptional natural beauty is composed by age-long plane trees, crystal water springs and imposing waterfalls. Furthermore, the route along Fonias stream passing through plane trees, elms and ferns is of unique beauty.

Getting There and Away
Only one to two daily ferries (two hours) connect Samothraki with mainland Alexandroupoli

Getting  Around
In summer the tour boat Samothraki circles the island, departing Loutsa (Therma) at 11 am and returning by 6.30 pm. The boat passes the Byzantine Castle of Fonias, the Panias rock formations and Kremasto Waterfall, before stopping at 1pm for four hours of swimming and sunbathing at Vatos Beach. A snack bar operates on board.
In summer, five to six buses daily go from Kamariotissa bus station and three to four to Loutra via Paleopolis. Three daily buses serve Profitis Ilias via Alonia and Lakoma.
Car and Motorcycle
For vehicle hire, X. Rentals on Kamariotissa’s water front opposite thw buses, has cars and small jeeps,as does Kyrkos Rent a car. Rent A Motor Bike opposite the quay, offers motorcycles and scooters
Taxis from Kamarioissa access most destinations, including Hora, Profitis Ilias, Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Loutra, Fonias River and Kipos Beach.

Categories: Featured, Holidays

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