Thomson

Acropolis and ancient amphitheatre

Above the old harbour at Thassos town a path snakes up into the hillside following the line of an ancient wall that once surrounded the old city. The path leads past an ancient theatre to the acropolis.
The first sight on the trail is an amphitheatre built in the 3rd century BC and extended by the Romans in the 1st century. It can seat up to 3,000 spectators on the tiered stone seats.
It appears that the Romans used it for gladiatorial contests. Stone slabs set around the edge suggest protection for spectators from animals. Some of the seats have names carved into them, presumably reserved for wealthy or influential Roman families.
The theatre is still used today, mainly for musical performances and one-off plays. There are panoramic views over the town and harbour below even though it is still some way to the top of the hill.
A steep climb up from the theatre leads to a scattering of ruins, set among the terraced walls. There are the remains of a medieval castle, the work of Byzantine architects and completed in the 15th century by Genoas Gattilusi.
There are two towers and a church within the fortress area. A deserted settlement suggests that people lived here in the 7th century, well hidden and protected from passing pirates.
Above the citadel are the ruins of a temple to Athena, probably 5th century BC and just above that is a natural cave called 'drakotrypa' where a path that leads to a temple to Pan built inside a cave carved out of the rock.
Inside this cave is a stone carved into the goat-like figure of the god Pan. Climbers are now about 137 metres above sea level and they are rewarded with scenic vistas over the town and sea below.

Ancient agora of Thassos

Just above the old port in Limenas (Thassos Town) is an ancient Agora or market place. Much of the modern town of Limenas was built on the ancient city and an awful lot has now disappeared beneath concrete but the Agora has been spared the cement mixer.
The Agora was once the commercial and cultural centre of Limenas. It's a large rectangular area once lined with buildings on three sides and a central courtyard flanked by colonnades and filled with statues and various altars to the gods.
There's not much left today but the outlines of the buildings can be clearly seen and the odd pillar gives an idea of its importance. To the north of the Agora are the ruins of the ancient temple to Dionysus which is thought to date back to the 4th century BC. Also of note is the sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon with a wall surrounding a U-shaped altar.

 

Archaeological Museum of Thassos

The Archaeological Museum of Thassos is found at the entrance to the Agora. It underwent extensive renovation in 2010 and has many impressive exhibits. Among the best are a 3.5 metre 'kouros' statue of a young man carrying a ram dating from 600 BC, a 4th century BC marble head of Dionysos and various statues of a Muse and of Aphrodite.
Other exhibits include collections of pottery and various architectural bits and pieces from the Neolithic to Roman periods. The best among these is Neolithic clay amphora and a Cycladic plate decorated with the hero Bellerophon on the winged Pegasus spearing the three-headed Chimera and thought to date from the 7th century BC.
Several good exhibits can be found in the garden of the museum including the impressive statue carvings of an eagle and a lion.

Monastery at Archangelos

The monastery at Archangelos leans out over a sheer cliff drop, high above a narrow bay with small and attractive shingle beach below. The Archangelos beach is reached down a narrow unsurfaced track off the main road and has no facilities.
Although called a monastery it is actually a convent for 20 or so nuns. There are two chapels, one dedicated to St Ephraim of Syros and the other to St Gerasimos of Kefalonia.
The monastery is more impressive outside than in, but it is conveniently located on the main coast road should you want to take a closer look.
It was built like a fort on top of the cliffs at the edge of a cape with a 250 metre drop to the sea and was founded by a monk, Lucas, in 830 at the site of a spring.
In the 13th century the Archangelos monastery was a dependency of Mount Athos on the mainland at Halkidiki. Today it includes the Catholicon, built in 1834, several cells and rooms for guests.
The monastery has a collection of religious artifacts, notably a nail said to be from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. Each year, on the first Tuesday after Easter, the nail is carried on procession from the village of Theologos to the convent.
Visitors are welcome at Archangelos monastery but are expected to adopt sober dress - no shorts please and women are must cover up too. There is a car park outside the front gate, just off the main road.

Village of Theologos

It is a long but beautiful 10 kilometre valley road to Theologos, the former island capital under the Turks. You may well wonder why you bothered as Theologos is little more than a village of old houses,a tiny square and a couple of cafes under a tree.
Brochures describe Theologos as a serene place unblemished by tourism - and they are right about that. Founded by refugees from Constantinople in the 16th century Theologos is the most remote of Thassos island villages. It was deserted in the 19th century.
There are 30 or so houses at Theologos now, many locked up except in the summer, and there has been a recent upsurge in rebuilding and renovation. The Church of Agios Dimitrios, built in 1803, is worth a look at the intricate altar screen.
There is also a small Folklore Museum in the centre of the village. The ground floor has a large collection of agricultural machinery and tools while the upper floor is a relica of a Thassos house at the turn of the century, with walls hung with textiles and a room with a loom.
Astonishing views are found at every angle in Theologos so take your camera. There are also many good walks to be found in the hills around.

Ruins at Alyki

Alyki is located on the south-east coast of Thassos and consists of two bays on each side of a narrow spit of land. This hamlet was once a hive of activity as evidenced by extensive remains of an ancient settlement here.
There are the remains of a temple and various buildings as well as a 7th century altar. A 'kouros' statue found on this site in 1880 is now in a museum at Istanbul. Christians built two churches in the 5th century.
It is thought that the mining of marble from the 6th century BC to 7th century AD brought great prosperity here. Sections of a wide road or 'marmarostrata' which led to Limenas are still in evidence today.
Also, the sunken quarry at the edge of the peninsula and half-finished quarry works suggest a huge site here, which may have been abandoned after major earthquakes.