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Thassos History

Thassos has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Neolithic tools and crude pottery, similar to those discovered on Limnos and Samothraki and at Troy, have been found at various sites on the island. The inhabitants in prehistoric times were Thracians. Thassos is first mentioned by Herodotus, the father of history, who had visited the island. He tells us that it took its name from Thassos, son of Agenor the Phoenician king of Tyre. Greek mythology goes on to say that Thassos arrived on the island in search of his sister Europa, who had been abducted by Zeus. Thassos the island was settled by the Phoenicians who for many years exploited its gold mines, its iron ore and its rich timber resources. The Phoenicians also brought the worship of Hercules.


In the 7th Century BC Telesicles, King of Paros, received an oracle from Delphi saying: “Tell the Parians, Telesicles, that I order you to build upon the isle of Aeria a city that will be visible everywhere”. Telesicles took his son (the famous poet Archilochus), and others from Paros, and seized Thassos and settled here. Later they also founded a series of settlements on the opposite coast. And so Thassos developed until it could count more than 60,000 inhabitants and was known as “the Athens of the North”. This growth was founded on the islands rich natural resources (marble, iron and gold), as well as on its products, especially its wine. The inhabitants minted coins which remained in circulation throughout the Mediterranean for hundreds of years, and Thassian wines were much praised by almost all of the poets of antiquity.

477 BC: Member of the Delian League.

465 BC: Thassos revolts and is subdued by the Athenians, who destroy its ships and its walls.

404 BC: The Spartans occupy Thassos.

393 BC: The Athenians return, bringing democracy and giving Thassos its independence.

338 BC: Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, takes controf Thassos and seizes its mines.

281 BC: The Gauls defeat the Macedonians but do not seize the island, which remains independent.

202 BC: The Macedonians regain control.

197 BC: The Thassians welcome the Romans as liberators. The ancient theatre and the old town are restored, and Thassian ships resume trading in freedom.

AD 52: The Apostle Paul, passes the coasts of Thassos on his way to Philippi, and probably stops here. He brings the Christian Faith, building churches on the ruins of the ancient temples and marking the end of an era.

AD 365: A terrible earthquake brings destruction, and parts of the islanddisappear beneath the sea.


565: The island is occupied by the Arabs, but liberated again by Heraclitus.

7th Century: The rise of piracy in the Aegean.

765: Thassos is pillaged by Slav pirates.

900: Occupied by the Saracens.

961: The Saracens are defeated by Nicephorus Phocas, and withdraw.

1161: The French count Raymond de Poitiers seizes, pillages and destroys the island. The inhabitants are sold into slavery.

From the 10th to the 16th Century the islanders live in fear in caves and refuges while successive waves of conquerors come and go. Genoese, Venetians, Slavs, pirates and Ottomans compete in theft, murder and pillage. The coastal settlements are deserted and new ones built in the interior.

1327: The Byzantine emperor Andronicus III brings new settlers to the island, whose population has declined.


1414: Emperor Manuel II seizes Thassos and offers it as a gift to the Gatiluzzi family of Genoa.

1434: The village of Kastro and a number of other castles are built.

1455: Mohammed II occupies Thassos and the period of Turkish rule begins.

1459: The Thassians rebel against him but the island is destroyed and its inhabitants are taken to Constantinople.

From 1566 the islanders are allowed to elect their own leaders and there is no Turkish military force on the island.

1770: Thassos is seized by the Russian admiral Orlov.

1774: Retaken by the Turks.

1813: Thassos is ceded to the Egyptian vizier Mehemet Ali, who was born in Kavala and had grown up in a Greek family in the village of Rachoni. He grants the islanders total freedom and abolishes taxes. This situation lasts on and off for almost a century.

1902: The Turks reassert their authority over the island.

18 October 1912: A company of Greek infantry land on the island and liberate it.

31 July 1913: King Constantine and Prince George come ashore unexpectedly at the harbour in Limenas.

1922: Refugees from Asia Minor arrive and settle at Limenas and Limenaria.

1941-1944: Under Bulgarian occupation.

1945-1949: Scarred by the Civil War.

Since 1960: The rise of tourism and the present day


Historical details and dates from “Istoria tis Thassou” (History of Thassos) by Sotiris Gerakoudis.

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