Thasos - The east and south coasts of the island - The Early Christian basilicas

The Early Christian basilicas
In the early Byzantine period the pagan sanctuary, with its (by now) abandoned twin buildings, was substituted by a centre of Christian cult further up the hill which curiously was to develop similarly into a ‘double sanctuary’—namely, a pair of *contiguous basilicas of the 5th century ad. The area was originally a cemetery in late Antiquity: then, for some reason—perhaps because of an important burial or a martyrion—a focus of cult appears to have formed at the point on the site which is now occupied by the sanctuary and apse of the northern basilica (the first one you encounter). At the same time, between 400–425 ad, a large three aisled basilica with apse and narthex was built (the southern basilica) nearby: its aisles were divided by rows of simple columns in local marble and a monumental ambo stood half way down the nave to the southern side. The base and fragments of the elaborate decoration of this ambo are visible today. This must have been a grand and luminous place of worship.
   At the end of the 5th century, the small chapel to its north, covering the sacred martyrion, was demolished and a new basilica (the present northern basilica), also with three aisles separated by columns, was erected in such a way that it now had the martyrion at the centre of its sanctuary: this was surrounded by a decorated marble screen with columns, the remains of which are still clearly visible in front of the apse. This had probably become by now a focus of pilgrim age, and so a large atrium and narthex area was constructed to its west for receiving pilgrims, including a baptistery and funerary chapel between the atrium and the basilica proper. The fact that this northern basilica was built approximately seventy years later and its positioning was determined by the pre-existing martyrion, perhaps explains why it is built in such a way as to slice into the northeast corner of the earlier basilica.
   In the west end of the south basilica is an ancient in scribed stele, which bears a small image of Hercules, resting from his tribulations. This may be related to the marble quarries which start to extend southwards from the very apse of the basilica. The hard-labouring hero, Hercules, was sometimes seen as a special protector of quarry labourers.

Thasos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.


Thasos Island, Greece.

Access to the island is by car-ferry from two harbours close to Kavala—(Nea) Péramos to the west, and Keramoti to the east—and from the port of Kavala itself.
   The service from Keramoti is now the most practical and reliable, and is the only one that serves Thasos town/Liménas itself with departures approximately every 90ms (crossing time, 40mins);
   The other connections are all to Prinos Skala which lies 16km to the west of the main town of Liménas. In the summer there are generally 6 car-ferry services (90mins), daily from Kavala to Prinos Skala. All these services are reduced in the winter. The service from Nea Péramos to Prinos Skala runs only April–end Sept and takes c. 75mins: its schedule is currently being renegotiated (2010).
All the above are operated by Thassos Ferries: T. 25930 24001/2,, from whom information on costs and schedules can be obtained. Kavala ("Megas Alexandros") Airport is served by three daily flights from Athens (Olympic Air and Aegean Air lines), and is close (c.10km) to Keramoti for the crossing to Thasos .
Taxi transfer from the airport to Keramoti costs in the region of €10.

Thasos Travel Guide


Thasos Island, Greece.

In Limenas, the Taverna Mouses by the modern harbour has well-prepared local dishes and welcoming hospitality. The plateia of Kazavíti is one of the most picturesque places on the island to dine, though it has recently become popular with tour groups: the family-run Taverna Vassilis on the square takes appropriate care with both food and setting.
At Theologos, both Kleoniki and Stelios serve a variety of good dishes prepared with locally-raised meats. Nowhere especially recommends itself in Liménas but the Taverna Platanaki be side the "old harbour" provides a pleasant setting and a good selection of fish dishes.


Thasos Travel Guide

further reading

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


Thasos Island, Greece.

In spite of its size, Thasos still has no truly ‘simpatico’ places to stay and little that seems satisfactorily to combine comfort with tastefulness. In the main town of Liménas, the best and most genuine hospitality is offered by the Acropolis Hotel (T. 25930 22488, fax 58118, At Panaghia is the pleasant Thassos Inn, in a traditional style building (T. 25930 61612, fax 61027); below, at Chrysi Ammoudiá, is the Hotel Dionysos (T. 25930 61822, fax 61823, email: dionyso1@, an unpretentious and comfortable hotel just above the beaches of Potamiá Bay. All of the above are moderately characterful and of good value, in the medium price range.Thasos Travel Guide

practical info

Thasos Island, Greece.

640 04 Thasos: area 383 sq. km; perimeter 116km; population 13,447; max. altitude 1,206m. Port Authority: 25930 22106 Travel and Information: www.gothassos.comThasos Travel Guide

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