Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thasos – the greenest island of Aegean Sea

According to mythology, the first person to inhabit the island was Thasos, a young man, who happened upon the island during his quest to find Europe, the daughter of Aginoros. Zeus was so deeply in love with her that he kidnapped her to enjoy her company for ever. Thasos, according to Herodotus, was unable to find her, but was seduced by the beauty of the island, settled there together with his company, and thus the island was ever since named after him.
Recent excavations, tools and fragments of ceramic, prove that Thasos was originally inhabited in the first instance, during the Paleolithic period, 2 to 3 million years ago. Later, it was the Phoenicians that settled on the island in 15th century BC. They were traders. They were attracted by rich gold mines, which many people have searched for since, but also by the abundant lumber, which still exists today, and enables the local boat builders to continue their trade.
Nowadays, Thasos is a unique tourist resort, with modern hotels, numerous private rooms, studios, apartments and private villas to let, camping sites beautifully located within pine trees with their own private access to the sea shore, a complete and well maintained road network and regular access to the mainland, just across the strait, both via a regular and all year round Ferry boat and Flying Dolphin service.
The friendly and hospitable people of Thasos have many ancient Greek traditions and deep religious beliefs and they preserve the folkways and mores and traditional forms of culture through their respect and love of arts and music. Not least amongst the traditions that they have preserved is that of the love of foreigners and strangers. Their hospitality will both amaze and overwhelm all visitors.
The annual summer festival, one of the most highly regarded festivals in Greece, presents high quality performances all around the island. Amongst the main attractions are the plays – by both ancient and modern writers – that are held in the Ancient Theatre. This, due to its location, high up of the town, has an unparalleled view over the beautiful harbor, the blue sea and the surrounding town, and the foothills of the mountains. In addition, there are also gigs and concerts by well known Greek or foreign artist in breathtaking locations such as the archaeological sites of the ancient Agora and the sanctuary of Dioskouri in Limenas, the site Metallia in Limenaria and many, many others – all equally beautiful and equally renowned – all around the island.
There are also, regular, art, photographic and other cultural exhibitions held in Kalogeriko (the beautiful and traditionally renovated cultural centre of Limenas, located by the ancient harbor). Tarsanas (in Potamia), Palataki (in Limenaria) and ancient sites and buildings also host their own festivals and festivities.
Throughout the year many traditional, cultural and folklore events, such as the Thasian Wedding in August, events with the unique reenactment of Dionysian customs, which are held in many of the villages around the island during the Greek Carnival in February, and which are still such an integral part of the ordinary lives of Thasian people, are organized by the folklore unions on the island which are so successful in preserving traditions that otherwise might be lost.
The island offers every type of beach that one could wish for shallow waters with sandy beaches abutted by pine trees, not easily accessible by road, tiny gulfs and rocky promontories, spotlessly clean pebble beaches, wide expanses of sand and well maintained public beaches, with numerous beds and umbrellas to satisfy every need. The choice is there for peaceful family vacations, exciting water sports, beach games or just simply relaxing in the peace and quiet of the beautiful surroundings.
The hills and mountains and the network of the hiking trails, within pine forests, offer the perfect opportunity for hiking and climbing amongst some of the most beautiful and most natural scenery in northern Greece. There is the possibility to undertake mountain bike riding, cycling along the coast road, motto cross or quad bike driving, while the sea is always close for swimming, sailing, diving, cruises, or fishing in traditional fishing boats. There are a total of 11 harbors and fishing shelters around the island. This combined with the countless beautiful gulfs and emerald waters (the twin natural harbors in Aliki, the deep sandy bays of Golden Beach, and Tripiti and the bay of Kefalas) are ideal destinations for those who wished to visit this island by boat.
Another unexpected attraction of the island is the large number of old churches and monasteries that are always of interest for those who want to research the past and the present of religion. The monastery of Archangels, located on the south-east of the island, built precariously on the steep rocky side of the mountain, gives a feeling that it is hanging right into the sea, the Church of the Virgin Mary in the mountain village of Panagia, the monastery of St Panteleimon close to the beautiful village of Kazaviti, Panagouda, close to the village of the same name, Maries, Agios Athanasius in Kastro built back in medieval times and Agios Dimitrios in Theologos are just few of the examples of the religious monuments on Thasos that are bound to inspire awe and humility in many visitors.
In short, an island of superb natural beauty, friendly and hospitable people with their lives very firmly based in the traditions of Greek village life, modern facilities, plentiful accommodation to suit every pocket and every need, sophisticated shops, bars and restaurants, easy and frequent access and all this relatively unknown to mass tourism.
Thasos is known to those who have already discovered its beauty, as the jewel of the Aegean, the emerald island. It is the most northerly island in the Aegean Sea, located just 12 nautical miles from the ports of Kavalla and Nea Peramos and 6 nautical miles from Keramoti and the Nestos River delta.
It is mountainous and densely wooded. The lower slopes of the mountain, covered by pine forests and olive groves seem to tumble into the sea, around the perimeter of the 100 km of the beautiful coastline of the island, with its numerous beaches, inlets and estuaries. It has wide sweeping big sandy expanses of beach, smaller sandy bays, tiny coves with rocks and pebbles, beaches which just constitute the fine white powdery marble sand which is like talcum powder, and even rocky outcrops, were one can be as secluded or with friends as one wishes. The climate is a mild Mediterranean climate, with cool summers and shorter mild winters.
In the administrative and commercial capital, both known as Thasos and Limenas, which is located in the most northerly point of the island, as well as in Limenaria, the second town of this island, located in the south, tourist and locals can find all the public services and facilities that they might require, (health centers, police and coast guard stations, post office and telecommunications, petrol stations, tourist information offices …). In fact, everything that you might not immediately think of but which are essential to ensure that the infrastructure is in place, to enable you to have an enjoyable and stress free visit.

1 comment:

C.D.A. Photo said...

Nice post. Thassos is great whether you love relaxing on the beach or you're more of an adventurous person (driving or trekking in the mountains). Furthermore, it's a paradise for the ones fond of archaeology and history.