The emerald island of Thassos - mythical land of the Sirens - rises out of the sapphire waves like a jewel in the Northern Aegean, just off the coast of Eastern Macedonia. Brimming with history and tradition, the island delights the visitor with its natural beauty, the constant interchange between green and blue that one meets at every corner and cove. Its lush vegetation ? woods thick with plane trees, oaks, cedars, chestnuts and pines ? never ceases to astonish, and the terrain, rich in marble, takes on shapes and contours encountered nowhere else.
Thassos Town (also known as Limenas), the island's capital, can be reached via ferry from Kavala and Thessaloniki. Pleasant boat rides are also offered from Keramoti, close to Kavalaès airport, which is also the shortest crossing point to the island (just 10km).
History and culture
The natural richness of the island, the white marbles and the precious minerals allured settlers to Thassos from the 8th century BC. During the Peloponnesian war Thassos was a subject of dispute between the Athenians and the Spartans. In 340 BC the island was occupied by Philip II and became part of the Macedonian state. Later Romans became its masters and contributed to the acme of its prosperity by exporting marble and delicious Thasiotic wine throughout their Empire. During the Byzantine years Thassos was a frequent the target of pirates and other eager conquerors. In 1459 the island fell to the Turks up until 1912, when the Greek fleet liberated it.
Sightseeing and monuments
At the capital a very pleasant mixing of modern town and ancient ruins reflects the islandès history as a fairly prosperous state in antiquity. Ancient remains are scattered all around, most obvious of which are these in the Agora, which backs onto the ancient harbor and houses the remains of temples and monumental altars. Nearby is the islandès rich Archaeological Museum. To the south lies a small Odeon fronted by the remnants of a paved Hellenistic street. This led to the triumphal arch of Caracalla, now reduced to some impressive large foundations. Other survivals consist of a well-preserved theatre and the ancient acropolis. From the topmost point of the acropolis there are magnificent views of Thassos island and the Aegean Sea as far as the island of Samothrace.
People and lifestyle
One of the first things that strike the visitor on setting foot on Thassos is the islanders' intense devotion to tradition. This is immediately apparent in their buildings but also in their way of life, and particularly noticeable in the mountain villages of Theologos, Prinos, Panayia and Paries. Here looking at their houses or observing a few of their daily customs or part of a religious festivals is like peering into the past.
The houses with their high thick walls and flower gardens are turned inward, shutting out the rest of the world, a hold over from the days of pirates and other marauders. On the other hand, the enclosed wooden balconies and slate roofs are authentic examples of local folk architecture with several elements borrowed from Epirus and Macedonia.
Beautifully in tune with their surroundings, the islanders keep up their age ? old legends, manners and customs. The festival held in the village of Limenaria, on the third day after Easter, is just one example of how the traditional ways are carried down from generation to generation. The villagers celebrate by dancing a local dance in costume, the men wearing breeches and black twin - peaked caps, while the women are decked out in long silk skirts, silk shawls and fur-trimmed pelisses.
Sports and Leisure
Several hotels on the island offer a wide variety of facilities, especially for water sports. Nevertheless, the island itself provides all that is needed to keep you fit. So go for a dip into its crystal clear waters and venture high into its wooded mountain scenery.
Gastronomy and Shopping
In Thassos Town, like in any sea side resort, restaurants and shopping activity centres on the waterfront, which in this case is surprisingly diverse with three distinct zones: the ferry quay, where most of the shops are, the ancient harbour, ideal for leafy night-time promenades, and the popular town beach, backed by restaurants and tavernas.
While on Thassos, one should not overlook its famous agricultural products, like the Thyme - scented honey, the olives and above all the Thassiotic wine, which has been produced for eons from the islands extensive vineyards.
There are a number of cultural, musical and folklore festivals on Thassos each summer. The Festival of Ancient Drama in the ancient theatre of Thassos Town is the most important. Musical events are held in the townès Stadium. Among the folk celebrations, the re-enactment of a Thassiotic traditional wedding at Theologos and the events connected with the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin at Panayia on August 15, are the most interesting.
Nightlife and entertainment
Small taverna's with guitarists, nightclubs with floor-shows, discotheques, piano bars and beach clubs provide for a lively nightlife. Special care has been taken so that the presence of all the necessary entertainment facilities, accompanying holidaymakers, always fails to diminish the appealing relaxed atmosphere of Thassos.
This heavenly Greek island is a popular tourist destination and home of excellent hotel infrastructure, which is by no means over - conspicuous. Hence, it is ideal for, comfortable and stress-free meetings.