Thasos is the most northernly of the islands in the Aegean Sea, separated from the Thracian continent by a strait about eight kilometres in width. It is situated less than an hour's ferry ride from the large city of Kavala (the ancient of city of Neapolis, a former territorial possession of Thasos). The strategic situation of the island  on the maritime channel linking Macedonia to Asia Minor and at the terminus of trade routes connecting the Aegean coast to Thrace's inland  made Thasos an important port of call in Antiquity.

With a total land area of 380km2, the island is divided into two unequal halves, separted in the centre by a mountain range: "steep, dug with deep ravins, exposed to prevailing winds, the northeastern slope descends rapidly towards the creeks of the rocky and jagged coast, forming together with the mountain and the sea a landscape of rare beauty. The southwestern slope, less rugged and less steep, gradually descends from the 1208m of Mount Hypsarion, the island's highest point, to the sea, where the horizon closes on the hills of Chalkidiki, topped by the pyramid of Mount Athos" (Guide to Thasos © EFA). 

The whole island was once the ancient city-state of Thasos, whose eponymymous urban centre was situated in the north, at the site of the present-day city of Limenas. From the earliest days of colonization, the Thasians were able to take advantage of the variety of resources offered by their khôra. The island's subsoil provided gold and other metals, in particular a white, coarse-grained marble whose continuous exploitation for a period of more than a thousand years transformed the Aliki quarries, in the south, into the site of a unique landscape. The abundant forests of the island provided the wood crucial to the construction of timber structures and vessels, while the plains and valleys were gradually subject to increasing agricultural exploitation: several small settlements and numerous isolated farms have been identified by exploratory campaigns. Viticulture above all secured the prosperity of Thasos, whose wine — highly praised by Aristophanes was very popular in Antiquity: Thasian amphorae have been recovered in their thousands, from the banks of the Black Sea as far as Egypt. 

© EFA / Julien Fournier

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