THASOS



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Thasos - The west and centre of the island - the traditional villages of the northwest

The traditional villages of the northwest
Beyond Cape Pachys, the island’s wooded northern extremity, the road runs southwest into a principally agricultural area which stretches for more than 20km, with cultivations of olives at first and then of vines further south. On this side of the island the older settlements dating from the 18th century were all built substantially inland and uphill, for security and protection from pi racy. The shoreline villages, by contrast, are mostly re cent developments, profiting from the safe seas of the last century and the new economy of tourism: they maintain a simplicity and tranquillity, nonetheless. This side of the island—especially the southwest—was the principal source of the mineral ores other than gold: silver, iron, lead and minium (lead oxide) were extracted here in Antiquity, and calamine (a zinc oxide) in the 19th century. The extensive forest fires of 1985 and 1989 changed the landscape in this area and in the south of the island. The villages were spared but their setting was radically altered. The land is now healing rapidly. At the time of writing, 20 years of growth has begun once again to return some of that ‘mane of forest’ on the ‘rocky backbone of the island’ to which Archilochus referred 2,600 years ago.
   At 12km from Limenas, a road into the interior leads from Rachoni Skala to Rachoni; at 17km, from Skala Prinou (the ferry port for Kavala and Peramos) to Kazavii; and at 20km, from Skala Soti­ros to the village of Soti­ras. All these three traditional settlements of Rachoni, Prinos (alternatively called Kazavii) and Soti­ras, each grouped around springs of excellent water, are well preserved and of considerable beauty—each with a different character. The widest variety of the traditional architecture is to be found at Ano Prinos, normally called *Kazavii. It is a continuous variation on the theme of low pyramidal roofs of silver schist tiles, ornate wooden balconies and window frames, and whitewashed plaster walls, immersed in dense vegetation. This is part of a tradition of vernacular architecture of Ottoman and Balkan formation which stretches from Roumeli and Mount Pelion in the west, across Macedonia and Thrace, to Bursa, Safranbolu and Anatolia in the east. It is a versatile and undemonstrative kind of architecture, completely in harmony with its landscape. It is fast vanishing because of the perishable nature of its materials, and the care required to maintain it in good condition.
   The church of the Twelve Apostles in Kazavii has delightful 19th century murals around its decorative door and a fine painted iconostasis in the interior; the village square is magical, if a little self-conscious. Soti­ras is quieter and less visited than Kazaviti, and has an enviable position looking towards the sunset. Approached by a road through dense groves of olive, the tiny village—part abandoned—is grouped around a spring of excellent, soft water, which has nourished some venerable plane trees. On a panoramic spur of the mountain considerably above and due east of the village is the solitary church of the Analipsis (Ascension). This is a broad, stone-built, three-aisled basilica dating probably from the 14th century; in its interior are the remains of wall-paintings mostly from the 16th century. (The church is 1km east of Sotiras as the crow flies, but almost 2.5km by rough track which leaves at first to the north of the village and then doubles back to the south and east.)
  
At Skala Soti­ros (20km), on the coast, the remarkable remains of a fortified settlement from the Early Bronze Age have come to light. The site is awkwardly squashed underneath the modern church beside the road on the shore side. Even though viewing is somewhat limited by the situation, the walls, the bastions and the gates of an enceinte can be seen. These were constructed in the latter half of the 3rd millennium bc. The area enclosed is small and represents probably the fortified residence of a chief around which would have been grouped other, humbler habitations. Most remarkable, however, are a number of life-size, *anthropomorphic stelai, carved in shallow relief, representing warriors or hunters (note the belts holding weapons). These astonishing pieces were found in the walls. Several stylised heads in marble were also found, and are exhibited here. The heads are simplified and designed in a way that is strangely reminiscent of the two eyes and nose carved in the marble block near the Gate of Parmenon in the walls of Ancient Thasos (see pp. 57–58). The pottery, jewellery, tools and ceremonial axes which were found here, as well as the originals of the carved stelai, are on display in the museum in Limenas (see p. 36).


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


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access

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, www.thassos-ferries.gr, 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

eating

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

lodging

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, www.acropolis-hotel.com). 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@ otenet.gr), 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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