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
After Potos (42km) the landscape becomes rougher and more unforgiving. The road which leads 9km inland from here to Theologos, is still bordered by venerable olive groves; but before the fires of 1985, the upper slopes of the hills were also much more densely wooded. In this area, at a site called ‘Kastri’ (reached by a 4.5km path from a signposted turning to the west just before entering The ologos) excavations have brought to light an important Bronze Age and Geometric Age settlement, which was continually inhabited from c. 1300 bc, up until its abandonment at the end of the 8th century bc. In addition, the site has a significant, much earlier, neolithic phase, dating from the 5th millennium BC.’
The delightful village of Theologos—formerly the capital of the island up until 1838 when the village of Panaghia succeeded it—takes its name from a religious dependency of the Athonite monastery of Philotheou dedicated to St John the Theologian. It is said that the original 15th century settlement which occupied a site on the opposite slope of the valley was founded by refugees from Constantinople. A tower and some ruined dwellings are still to be seen there. The move of the settlement across to the north side of the river in the 18th century, may have been determined by the changing availability of water: the springs in the village today supply a particularly flavourful water.
The village rambles over such a considerable distance that it is difficult to find a single, discernible centre, but by taking the main street that winds through the settlement you pass a number of fine buildings and Ottoman mansions. One of these, the 18th century Hadjigeorgiou Mansion—towards the end of the village—belonged to a prominent citizen who was a partesan of the Independence uprising of 1821 and mayor of Theologos. This has recently become an informal museum of the town (open 11–7)—of greater interest for the possibility it affords of seeing the interior of a local mansion, with its wooden floor, partitions and spacious balconies, than for the variety of objects it displays. Mohammed Ali, future sovereign of Egypt, lived in this house as a young man, hiding from the attentions of the Turks. The two large churches of the village—both of them aristocratic pieces of 16th century architecture, restored in the early 19th century— lie below the line of the street to the southeast. Aghia Paraskevi has a fine wooden ceiling and imposing curved balcony for women: its wall-paintings date from the 18th century. Just opposite is the school-building: a curious Hellenistic funerary relief of a rider with cape flying in the breeze is incorporated into its façade at the eastern end. The grander church of Aghios Demetrios is similar in design to Aghia Paraskevi with a wooden roof, balcony and finely carved iconostasis. Its spacious and dignified porch is unusual and particularly attractive.
The southern tip of the island beyond Potos, now somewhat forgotten, appears to have been an important area of wine production in antiquity. Both at Vamvouri Ammoudia to the west, and at Koukos to the east, of Cape Salonikios, workshops making wine amphorae have been excavated; at Kamnarokai―ko, 2km south of Potos, on a rise to the north of the road, are the remains of a fortified Hellenistic farmstead. These are the elements of what was an integrated local economy based on wine in Antiquity. That wine was famous in the Greek world and was widely exported. It was over a cup of Thasian wine that Aristophanes makes the companions of Lysistrata swear to renounce their men for as long as the war lasts. Callias served it at banquets in honour of Socrates and Autolycus. Xenophon praises it. Archestratos, the gourmand, compares it to the best of wines. And, for the Epicureans, Thasian wine was one of the principal pleasures of living.
Thasos Island is part of the Northern Aegean Island Group, Greece.