Thassos manages to combine all of the main ingredients of a typical Greek island (great beaches, charming villages, rich history, delicious food) despite its small size. Yet even with its obvious attractions it has retained a charm that has visitors returning year after year to its sunny shores. Here we take a brief look at why Thassos is such a popular destination.
A brief history of Thassos
Thassos has a very colourful history, with frequent invasions thanks to its very handy strategic location. From the early days of Xerxes, when the battles between Greece and Persia really did decide who controlled the known world, the island has changed hands regularly until the Balkan War in 1912 when the Greeks were able to shake off the yolk of Ottoman occupation and finally claim Thassos as their own.
A short period of Bulgarian occupation followed during the Second World War, with peace only restored to the island in 1950, a year after the Greeks had finished fighting among themselves elsewhere in the Civil War.
Where is Thassos?
Thassos is a fairly round island in the northern Aegan Sea, around 80 miles east of Thessaloniki. A 100km road runs around its coastline and skirts several excellent sandy beaches. The centre is remarkably green by Greek standards while the highest peak Ypsario is a respectable 1,205m above sea level. It is a history of extensive mining, with lead and silver having been dug from the ground for many centuries. Even gold has been found in the rocks of Thassos, although never in large enough quantities to get too many people excited. Zinc and lead are still mined on Thassos.
What you shouldn’t miss on Thassos
To capture the essence of Thassos you don’t need to tick any museums or natural wonders from a list; it’s not that kind of place. Instead just head to the hill villages and you’ll soon drift along with the slow pace of local life while admiring the white stone houses and narrow winding lanes that are so characteristic of Thassos. Kazaviti is one of the finest hill villages, where life in the midday sun revolves around sipping coffee and finding shade under the old plane trees in the main square.
What you might buy on Thassos
The wine of Thassos has long been in demand. In fact it is often said that Cleopatra sent ships to stock up on Thassian wine and bring it back to Egypt, such was its reputation. The local honey is also considered one of the finest in the whole of the Mediterranean and is a popular gift to take home from Thassos. Look around the island and you’ll see the signs of quarrying for marble. It is no surprise therefore that there are many marble gifts on offer. Some are small enough to drop into your luggage while shipping is available for the larger items.
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