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About Samothraki

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Samothrace (also Samothraki) is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. It is a municipality within the Evros regional unit of Thrace. The island is 17 km (11 mi) long and is 178 km2 (69 sq mi) in size and has a population of 2,859 (2011 census). Its main industries are fishing and tourism. Resources on the island includes granite and basalt. Samothrace is one of the most rugged Greek islands, with Mt. Saos and its tip Fengari rising to 1,611m.

Landscape

Samothrace (also Samothraki) has a beautiful landscape with Mt Fengari as the center piece of the island. The Island also has lovely yellow fields and incredible waterfalls

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Antiquity

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Samothrace was not a state of any political significance in ancient Greece, since it has no natural harbour and most of the island is too mountainous for cultivation: Mount Fengari (literally ‘Moon Mt’) rises to 1,611 m (5,285 ft). It was, however, the home of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, site of important Hellenic and pre-Hellenic religious ceremonies. Among those who visited this shrine to be initiated into the island cult were Lysander of Sparta, Philip II of Macedon and Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, father-in-law of Julius Caesar.

The ancient city, the ruins of which are called Palaeopoli («old city»), was situated on the north coast. Considerable remains still exist of the ancient walls, which were built in massive Cyclopean style, as well as of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, where mysterious rites took place which were open to both slaves and free people (similar to the Eleusinian Mysteries).

The traditional account from antiquity is that Samothrace was first inhabited by Pelasgians and Carians, and later Thracians. At the end of the 8th century BC the island was colonised by Greeks from Samos, from which the name Samos of Thrace, that later became Samothrace; however, Strabo denies this. The archaeological evidence suggests that Greek settlement was in the sixth century BC.

The Persians occupied Samothrace in 508 BC, it later passed under Athenian control, and was a member of the Delian League in the 5th century BC. It was subjected by Philip II, and from then till 168 BC it was under Macedonian suzerainty. With the battle of Pydna Samothrace became independent, a condition that ended when Vespasian absorbed the island in the Roman Empire in AD 70.

Today

The modern port town of Kamariotissa is on the north-west coast and provides ferry access to and from points in northern Greece such as Alexandroupoli and Kavala. There is no commercial airport on the island. Other sites of interest on the island include the ruins of Genoese forts, the picturesque Chora (literally village)and ‘Paliapoli’ (literally Old Town), and several waterfalls.

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The Winged Victory of Samothrace, one of the best-known ancient Greek statues (Louvre)

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Mesembria archaeological site

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View of Samothraki.