Samothrace: Wikis


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The port of Samothrace
The port of Samothrace
Coordinates: 40°29′N 25°31′E / 40.483°N 25.517°E / 40.483; 25.517
Island Chain: North Aegean
Area: 177.977 km² (69 sq.mi.)
Highest Mountain: Mt. Fengari (1,611 m (5,285 ft))
Greece Greece
Periphery: East Macedonia and Thrace
Prefecture: Evros
Capital: Samothrace (town)
Population: 2,723 (as of 2001)
Density: 15 /km² (40 /sq.mi.)
Postal Code: 680 02
Area Code: 25510
License Code: EB
Waterfall and pond in Samothrace.

Samothrace (Greek: Σαμοθράκη, IPA: [samo̞ˈθɾakʲi]) is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. It is a self-governing deme within the Evros Prefecture of Thrace. The island is 17 km (11 mi) long and is 178 km2 (69 sq mi) in size and has a population of 2,723 (2001 census). Its main industries are fishing and tourism. Resources on the island includes granite and basalt. Samothraki is one of the most rugged Greek islands, with Mt. Fengari rising to 1,611 m.





Samothrace was not a state of any political significance in ancient Greece, since it has no natural harbour and most of the island is too mountainous for cultivation: Oros Fengari (Mount Moon) rises to 1,611 m (5,285 ft). It was, however, the home of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, site of important Hellenic and pre-Hellenic religious ceremonies. Among those who visited this shrine to be initiated into the island cult were King Lysander of Sparta, Philip II of Macedon and Cornelius Piso, father-in-law of Julius Caesar.

The ancient city, the ruins of which are called Palaeopoli ("old city"), was situated on the north coast. Considerable remains still exist of the ancient walls, which were built in massive Cyclopean style, as well as of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, where mysterious rites took place which were open to both slaves and free people (in contrast to the Eleusinian Mysteries).

The traditional account from antiquity is that Samothrace was first inhabited by Pelasgians and Carians, and later Thracians. At the end of the 8th century BC the island was colonised by Greeks from Samos, from which the name Samos of Thrace, that later became Samothrace; although Strabo denies this. The archaeological evidence suggests that Greek settlement was in the sixth century BC.

The Persians occupied Samothrace in 508 BC, it later passed under Athenian control, and was a member of the Delian League in the 5th century BC. It was subjected by Philip II, and from then till 168 BC it was under Macedonian suzerainity. With the battle of Pydna Samothrace became independent, a condition that ended when Vespasian absorbed the island in the Roman Empire in 70 AD.

Post-Roman Era

Samothrace, with Mt. Fengari in the background.

St. Theophanes died here in 818. The Byzantines ruled till 1204, when Venetians took their place, only to be dislodged by a Genoan family in 1355, the Gattilusi. The Ottoman Empire conquered it in 1457 and was called Turkish: Semadirek; an insurrection against them by the local population during the Greek War of Independence (1821-1831) led to the massacre of most of the population. The island returned to Greek rule in 1913 following the Balkan War. It was briefly occupied by Bulgaria during the Second World War.


The modern port town of Kamariotissa is on the north-west coast and provides ferry access to and from points in northern Greece such as Alexandroupoli and Kavala. There is no commercial airport on the island. Other sites of interest on the island include the ruins of Genoese forts, the picturesque Chora (old town), and several waterfalls.


A picturesque view of the Hieron
One of the numerous ponds characteristic of the island.

The island's most famous site is the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, Greek Hieron ton Megalon Theon ; the most famous artifact of which is the 2.5-metre marble statue of Nike, now known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, dating from about 190 BC. It was discovered in pieces on the island in 1863 by the French archaeologist Charles Champoiseau, and is now - headless - in the Louvre in Paris.


  • Alonia (pop. 251)
  • Ano Karyotes (15)
  • Ano Meria (58)
  • Dafnes (11)
  • Kamariotissa (969)
  • Kato Karyotes (37)
  • Katsampas (12)
  • Lakkoma (329)
  • Makrylies (9)
  • Mpaxedes (0)
  • Pahia Ammos
  • Palaiopoli (25)
  • Potamia (3)
  • Profitis Ilias (214)
  • Remboutsadika
  • Samothrace/Samothraki (677)
  • Therma (74)
  • Xiropotamos (39)

Historical population

Year Island population Change Density
1981 2,871 - 16.13/km²
1991 3,083 +112/+3.90% 17.32/km²
2001 2,723 -360/-11.67% 15.30/km²

See also


  • Michel Mourre, Dictionnaire Encyclopédique d'Histoire, article Samothrace, Bordas, 1996
  • Marcel Dunan, Histoire Universelle, Larousse, 1960

External links

Coordinates: 40°28′40″N 25°31′19″E / 40.47778°N 25.52194°E / 40.47778; 25.52194

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Samothraki is a small island that is basically the conical tip of a mountain rising out of the sea. There are two main towns; Kamariotissa and Chora; between them they provide most of the facilities one small town would normally have. There are two campsites. The island is surprisingly lush and green for an Agean Island, due to the rainfall caused by the central mount 'fengari'. The goat population (estimated at approx 100,000) outnumbers the inhabitants by 33 goats to every person. Due to the fact that the land rises steeply out of the sea, there are not many large beaches with the possible exception of the beach known as 'Fat Sand' which is located at the far end of the island from the main centers. Samothraki is an ideal place for a rural retreat, it is very unsophisticated and lacks almost all tourist infrastructure (there is no nightlife, except during the annual music festival). The inhabitants are extremely warm, friendly people who will go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It is the location of the annual (Greek) music festival[1].

Get in

By ferry from Alexandropolis or Kavala. The service is run by Saos Ferries [2]

Get around

There are buses connecting the different locations.


The major archeological site of 'the Sanctuary of the Great Gods' centre of a mystery cult that rivaled Delphi. there is a small, excellent museum that has a plaster cast of the famous'winged victory of samothrace' as a consolation that the original was looted from the site by the Louvre in Paris.

  • Swim in the waterfalls and pools of the river affectionately called 'the murderer' "Phonias" (Greek: Φονιάς) (avoid it when it might rain for obvious reasons). There are more pools upstream if someone is willing to do some climbing.
  • Visit the hot spring/baths at Loutra.
  • Swim at the sea. There are 2 excellent beaches, in the west and east end of the island. The road running across the island is ending on both of them.
  • Visit the Sanctuary of the Great Gods and the Ancient City


Some goat bells.


Almost anywhere, the food is delicious with a hint of the hot peppers used in northeastern greece.


Retsina - seriously it is one of those drinks that tastes fantastic in its native environment but doesn't travel at all.


As there are no hotels, you have three options.

  • 1 Camp. There are 2 campings, both run by the municipality. Rough camping near the river was common (illegal).
  • 2 Rent an apartment or house (best done beforehand but possible by asking in a bar or cafe.
  • 3 Stay in a domatia, best done by asking someone when you get there. For those unfamiliar with Greek accommodation, domatia are rented rooms, sometimes adjoining locals' houses, sometimes in separate buildings. A word of warning, the accommodation in the delightful old town or chora is fairly limited and one woman called Chrisoula seems to have appointed herself unofficial co-ordinator of accommodation. She has two rooms that are small but cosy and are worth the cost, if you want more than two, beware offers of a third or fourth they will be on her sofas in her small living room. You will know her if she comes to greet you as you enter the town.


It can be difficult getting the bank to part with any cash on the island, make sure you have enough for a while as few places take cards or travellers cheques.

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SAMOTHRACE (Turk. Semadrek), an island in the N. of the Aegean Sea, nearly opposite the mouth of the Hebrus, and lying N. of Imbros and N.E. of Lemnos. The island is a kaza of the Lemnos sanjak, and has a population of 3500, nearly all Greek. It is still called Samothraki, and though of small extent is, next to Mount Athos, by far the most important natural feature ir; this part of the Aegean, from its great elevation - the group of mountains which occupies almost the whole island rising to the height of 5240 ft. Its conspicuous character is attested by a well-known passage in the Iliad (xiii. 12), where the poet represents Poseidon as taking post on this lofty summit to survey the plain of Troy and the contest between the Greeks and the Trojans. This mountainous character and the absence of any tolerable harbour - Pliny, in enumerating the islands of the Aegean, calls it "importuosissima omnium" - prevented it from ever attaining to any political importance, but it enjoyed great celebrity from its connexion with the worship of the Cabeiri, a mysterious triad of divinities, concerning whom very little is known, but who appear, like all the similar deities venerated in different parts of Greece, to have been a remnant of a previously existing Pelasgic mythology. Herodotus expressly tells us that the "orgies" which were celebrated at Samothrace were derived from the Pelasgians (ii. 51). The only occasion on which the island is mentioned in history is during the expedition of Xerxes (B.C. 480), when the Samothracians sent a contingent to the Persian fleet, one ship of which bore a conspicuous part in the battle of Salamis (Herod. viii. 90). But the island appears to have always enjoyed the advantage of autonomy, probably on account of its sacred character, and even in the time of Pliny it ranked as a free state. Such was still the reputation of its mysteries that Germanicus endeavoured to visit the island, but was driven off by adverse winds (Tac. Ann. ii. 54).

After visits by travellers, including Cyriac of Ancona (1444), Richter (1822), and Kiepert (1842), Samothrace was explored in 1857 by Conze, who published an account of it, as well as the larger neighbouring islands, in 1860. The "Victory of Samothrace," set up by Demetrius Poliorcetes c. 305 B.C., was discovered in the z 8 Samovar Sampierdarena island in 1863, and is now in the Louvre. The ancient city, of which the ruins are called Palaeopoli, was situated on the N. side of the island close to the sea; its site is clearly marked, and considerable remains still exist of the ancient walls, which were built in massive Cyclopean style, as well as of the sanctuary of the Cabeiri, and other temples and edifices of Ptolemaic and later date. The modern village is on the hill above. A considerable sponge fishery is carried on round the coasts by traders from Smyrna. On the N. coast are much-frequented hot sulphur springs. In 1873 and 1875 excavations were carried out under the Austrian government.

Conze, Reise auf den Inseln des Thrakischen Meeres (Hanover, 1860); Conze, Hauser and Niemann, Archdologische Untersuchungen auf Samothrake (Vienna, 1875 and 1880); H. F. Tozer, Islands of the Aegean (London, 1890).

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Alternative forms



Samos +‎ Thrace



Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:





  1. An island in the North Aegean administered by the Evros prefecture in Greece.
  2. A village on this island.



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