Thasos Island, Greece.
Yves Grandjean & François Salviat, Guide de Thasos (Paris/Athens 2000)—an exemplary account of the ancient city which will long remain unsuperseded.
Thasos Travel Guide
Something of the greenness and spaciousness of Macedonia is distilled in Thasos . Its effect is more intense for being concentrated within the circumference of an island. The beauty of its coast, the peacefulness of its villages and landscapes, and the immense importance of its archaeology, can challenge anything found on the mainland opposite. Beneath the green, is the gold. It was this, in historic times, that brought the first settlers to the island—the presence of metal ore, silver and, above all, gold. In the 5th century bc Herodotus saw the gold mines in the east of the island; the tunnels and shafts, though mostly blocked, are still there today. The island has never lacked enriching resources, whether these were the precious ores, or wine, or marble—all of which were widely exported and traded by Thasos . They brought continuous prosperity; and since this large island had only one city in Antiquity, that prosperity was all concentrated there.
Today its ancient remains are a treasure greater than the island’s gold; because there are few other places in the Aegean where it is possible to get such a clear feel for the entirety of an ancient city. Archaeological work has already revealed as many as eight separate sanctuaries to divinities, from Poseidon to Pan, from Demeter to Hercules, small, large, high and low. a commercial port; a chain of lighthouses to guide ships to the harbours; two theatres; functional buildings, recreational buildings, official buildings, residential buildings; country farmsteads producing wine, and workshops manufacturing the jars that stored and transported it; even the engraved laws that governed all this activity can be seen in the museum. But perhaps more extraordinary than all of this, is the exceptional circuit of early walls, masterfully built and perforated by almost a dozen gates, no two of which are the same, and most of which are given over to the protection of yet another pantheon of divinities—Hermes, Silenus, Hera, Zeus etc. A series of unique relief images of these deities, carved in the early 5th century, adorn them: a larger than life-size, priapic Silenus marches naked in at one gate; at another, a winsome, pony-tailed Artemis hastens away by chariot. All this is a remarkable legacy still to be seen in situ; but, most valuable of all, is the vivid picture it gives of how the Ancients sensed that a network of divine presences with different areas of influence participated in, and watched over, the daily life of their community. Dionysos caroused with the artists, performers and drinkers in the thick of the town; Apollo watched from the lofty height of his temple way above the city; and Pan sometimes kept company with the lonely guardsmen on the highest look-out posts of the acropolis, when the autumn mist descended. This is the unusual gift of Thasos —that it presents not just a multitude of ruins, but the living texture of an ancient city and its whole imaginative world. Even before arrival, the impressively mountainous profile of the island seen from the mainland intimates to the visitor that, beyond the unusual importance of its antiquities, Thasos offers a majestic and varied landscape, in places thickly forested and dotted with villages whose houses are built in a beautiful and characteristically Balkan architecture of stone, wood and plaster. It would be possible to come to Thasos simply to enjoy its mountain walks, beautiful villages, beaches and country tavernas— just to be close to nature, and nothing more. But it would be a pity to stop at that, because there are few other is lands in the Aegean where you can come closer to the lived history of Antiquity than here on Thasos .
Thasos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.