Samothraki, A Most Awe-inspiring Island on the Aegean Sea
Without commercial tourism it is even beautiful to those who like to find some of the lost serenity of our times here
I haven’t been yet on the island of Samothraki, but I have watched it from far away many times. When travelling to Thessaloniki Greece back and forth I have stoped at Alexandroupolis city which is the main port to Samothraki ferries, and the island stands gray in colur in the far distance. Also when I go to visit Imbros or Gökçeada island in Turkey, the island shows almost the same silhouette, but this time the view is from the south side. Eleni who is my cousin living in Thessaloniki and works for EPESTH, the Voleyball Federation of Thessaloniki, has been on the island a few times, so I asked her a few questions about the island and she provided also a few photos to us.
Eleni, can you tell us in short about the island?
Vasili, as you know, Samothraki is one of the north-east Aegean islands, south of the mainland city of Alexandroupolis. Alexandroupolis is the port where you can get a ferry to the island. it is an eliptical island very mountainous and the highest peak of the mount is Fengari that reaches 1700 m.
Because the island is off the beaten track it is relatively difficult to reach for tourists, so allmost all of the visitiors are Greeks. But the island has many things to offer for someone who decides to go there for vacations.
As you will shortly see, even though Samothraki has many natural beauties and charms to offer its visitors, it has stayed away from the tourist expansion. This only makes it more beautiful to those who like to find some of the lost serenity of our times here.
What do you think are the main attractions on the island?
First of all the island is very green, plenty of valleys full of oak and plane trees, thick forests of olive trees, very dense shrubbery, and beautiful wild flowers.
Second there is plenty of water on the island, there are many waterfalls that flow into deep cold pools, like Fonias and Gria Vathra, that are very nice to bath on the hot summer days.
Third the island is very rich in animal life. In the many springs you can find many kinds of frogs, toads, and turtles. The meadows are also rich of butterflies. Plenty of goats on the rocky mountainside are clanking their bells in the form of an idyllic melody.
Finally there are the beaches, although stoney and pebbly, they are beautiful and very clean.
So the visitor at his disposal has many activities such as swimming, fishing, diving, hiking and many others.
Are there any archaeological remains worth visiting on the island?
Certainly there are! Samothraki’s ancient site is at Paleopolis. The Sanctuary of the Great Gods can be found there. It is one of the most evocative ancient sites. The rites performed here remain unknown to our date, and this mysticism prevails throughout the whole island.
Samothraki became worldwide known after the beautiful statue Victory of Samothraki which now decorates the Louvre Museum. The Arhaeological museum at Paleopolis contains many findings on the island.
Since it is not a touristic island, are there adequate places to stay?
Well, in July and August it may be somewhat difficult to find a room, so do reserve it in advance. Almost all the big hotels have been built in the 80s with a very sensitive notion to their environment. But they are a bit expensive. Yet, you can find places such as rooms or domatia for every budget category.
Most hotels are at Kamariotissa, Therma and Palaiopoli, while rooms are let at Hora and Karyotes. There is also a camping site at a short distance from Therma.
What about the food?
Some of the famous products of the island are olives, olive oil, cottage cheese, honey and goat meat. Hora is well known for its walnut and apricot traditional preserves. There is fish but mainly what you may find is goat meat like the tasty semi-savage goat on the spit which is something that the visitors have to try.
Eleni, thank you so much for the wonderful information about the island you have shared with us. I hope very soon I can find the time to visit Samothraki and search for the lost serenity of our times as you said.
February 6, 2009