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Thassos island news and views

Thassos is the most northerly Greek holiday island and lies off the Macedonian coast of mainland Greece. A good road rings the island to give easy access to the sandy beaches that dot the coastline.The pine trees that carpet most of Thassos lead to its being dubbed the 'Emerald Isle'. Slightly off the main tourist trail, Thassos is still very easy to reach from the mainland airport at Kavala.

Thassos marina

Thassos resort gets new €70 million marina. The holiday resort of Limenaria, on the Greek island of Thassos, should get a welcome boost with the building of a new boat marina. This popular holiday spot located on the south coast of Thassos is the second biggest resort on the island after the capital at Limenas in the north and has a long waterfront promenade, a very pleasant beach and any number of tavernas and cafes to visit. There is a small harbour at the eastern end of Limenaria but the new marina is to be built at the western end of the resort at a cost of more than €7 million. Such a large injection of cash into the local economy is very welcome at a time when Greece is feeling the pinch of austerity. The new marina will have moorings for about 70 vessels and is expected to be complete in three years. It will serve shipping routes for the whole north Aegean and help to contribute to tourism in the whole Macedonia region. As well as serving the sea route that runs along the coastline of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace with connections to the islands of Limnos and Samothrace and then to the islands of Lesvos and Chios, the port will also be used by tourist day trip boats on tours around the island and by private yachts and flotilla companies. Thassos has not suffered the influx of tourists found on other Greek islands and this has very much helped the island retain its Greek character and charm. Tourists who do find their way to Thassos will find an island dotted with fine beaches all around the almost circular coastline. Although it doesn't have its own island airport, the major airport of Alexandros Kavala is nearby on the mainland and it is just a short road and ferry trip to Thassos island.

Pefkari Beach on Thassos
Best Thassos holiday

Best holiday ever on the Greek Island of Thassos. Greece has lived through troubled times recently and Greek Island holidays have suffered a drop in visitors as a result. Street riots and country-wide strikes left me worried, along with many others, about booking a Greek Island holiday this year. Having just returned from a holiday on Thassos I should not have been concerned. I can honestly say it has been one of the best holidays ever. Thassos beaches are just a lovely, the weather was perfect, the prices much lower than I expected and the welcome was all you would expect from the ever-hospitable Greeks. The only other notable differences, apart from the low prices, were fewer German holidaymakers and many more East European families on the more popular Thassos island beaches. We spent a week in the Thassos capital of Limenas at the excellent Danae Hotel. It scored very high on Booking.com and rightly so – basic no-frills Greek but spotlessly clean, sheets changed daily and terrific husband and wife hosts. The hotel is close to Limenas town centre and a short walk took us to the main shopping strip, a bright and busy pedestrian-only street packed with craft and souvenir shops, street cafes and music bars, bakeries and tavernas. As usual, the best, and cheapest meals, were away from the tourist hotspots and our favourite was was Meorgios in the new harbour where delicious meals for two cost under €25, with wine. Locals say visitor numbers are slightly down this year, but this comes on top of two years of increased numbers, so the popular Thassos beaches such as Golden Beach, Potos and Limenaria are as busy as ever. We hired a car but spent most of your time in and around Limenas. Not only does the capital town have its own excellent sandy beach but there are a string of sandy coves to the west – all within walking distance. The beaches are marked Agios Vasilios on the map but the coves are variously named after resident beach bars or nearby hotels such as Papias, Gourgoulis, Tasarna and Nysteri. Further around the cape are splendid family beaches at Pachis and Skala Rachonis and a pleasantly spruced up port area at Skala Prinos where there are regular ferries to the mainland at Kavala. The south of Thassos has more than a dozen beaches between Limenaria and Astris with Pefkari boasting yet another Blue Flag award this year. Thassos has such a surfeit of beaches it is hard to understand why it is not more favoured by package tour companies. Thomson and First Choice have been here for years and Olympic Holidays have recently added Thassos to its brochures, but other companies have shied away. With a flight time of just three hours to Kavala and a short ferry hop from the nearby port of Keramoti, the island of Thassos is ideal as a last-minute Greek island break. Cheap flights to Kavala are on offer from fliers such as Thomson Fly and Thassos is just a short taxi ride and ferry ride away with ferries leaving hourly or less.

Great views over Thassos
Thassos theatre delights

Ancient theatre delights on a Thassos holiday. Thassos is not only one of the less 'discovered' destinations for Greek island holidays, it also has some of the best 'undiscovered' holiday sights. Those visitors on a holiday to Thassos who stick to the beaches will miss out on one of the best features of Thassos, found on the hillside above the main port. It is a steep walk up the hillside above Limenas but the effort is worth it for the views over the main Thassos holiday resort from the ancient theatre of Thassos. Work is expected to begin on a major restoration of the Thassos theatre site which is on the north side of the town and located in a natural concave depression in the hillside. According to Hippocrates, there was some sort of building here as early as the 5th century BC. But it was in the 3rd century BC that the stage was built and a marble proscenium erected. A pillar and various other sections of the proscenium have survived but most of what Thassos holiday visitors see today was built by the Romans. In ancient times the Thassos theatre was used for theatrical and musical performances but the Romans preferred gladiatorial contests. In the 1st century AD the theatre was used for gladiatorial combats between pairs of riders. The orchestra pit was turned into an arena and, in the 2nd century AD, marble slabs were erected to protect the audience from wild beasts. On one of those slabs is carved the name Espani, a benefactress presumably booking her seat for the performances. Nowadays, the Thassos theatre has returned to its roots and ancient tragedies are produced here every summer in the holiday season, while musical groups hold concerts throughout the year. Over the years, the Thassos theatre has suffered from neglect and much damage has been caused by invading vegetation. More than 70 trees have grown and the roots have broken many of the seats. The first excavation of the Thassos theatre site was carried out by the French in 1921. Some major restoration works started in 1957 but the site was closed a few years later. More excavations were competed between 1990 and 1995. One of the most impressive qualities of the Thassos theatre site is its position overlooking the Thassos holiday resort of Limenas with extensive views across to mainland Macedonia

Marble quarry at Alyki on Thassos
White marble of Thassos

Thassos famed for its pure white marble. Anyone who has been on holiday to Thassos will not have failed to notice the island's marble heritage. Thassos marble is famed throughout the world for its translucent quality and lorries loaded with huge marble slabs can often be seen at Thassos Town port. Holiday visitors who tour the island will certainly have passed any one of the many marble quarries that can be seen on Thassos. Thassos or Thasos is one the most northern of the Greek holiday islands, located in the Aegean Sea, close to the coast of Thrace and the river plain of Nestos and, geographically part of Macedonia. Thassos is also the name of the main holiday resort on the island and is also called Limenas Thasou or 'Port of Thasos'. It is found on the north side of the island, opposite the mainland and about 10 kilometres from the mainland port of Keramoti. Thassos marble obviously takes it name from the island and has been quarried here since ancient times. It is known that Thassos marble was exported to Samothrace, the coast of Asia Minor, and to South Greece from the 6th century BC. It appears that the island was originally settled by Phoenicians who worked the island's gold mines, but in the 7th century BC Greeks from Paros colonised the island and founded a school of sculpture. Thassos marble was used extensively to construct temples and other religious and official buildings of importance. From the 1st century BC until the 3rd century AD a great amount of Thassos marble was imported by the Romans who had a particular fondness for its soft snow white colour. Besides its marble and its gold mines, Thassos was also known in antiquity for its wine. Thassos wine had a characteristic apple aroma and was once so famous that all Thassos coins once depicted the wine god Dionysos on one side and grapes on the other. It is thought that ancient marble quarries were only open 'temporarily' for a specific project, such as a building or statue. When the work was finished the quarry was often abandoned. It's possible that a marble quarry at Mourgena was opened to make two 'kourous' statues, one of which is in Thassos museum and another at a museum in Istanbul. A former quarry at Naxo is thought to be where three 'kouroi' were made. Traces of ancient marble quarries can also be see at Akeratou and Fanari. Today, Thassos produces three types of white marble – Extra White, Snow White and Pure White. All are considered among the best marbles and the whitest available. Thassos marble is very pure in colour with no veins or shadows and the best is very rare. It is called the 'diamond' of the white marble and used in extremely luxurious constructions. Modern Thassos marble quarries use state-of-the art technology to meet high demand from across the world. Most Thassos marble is exported and Thassos has several marble factories which process the stone ready for export. Holiday visitors to Thassos can take tours of the marble quarries. Every Friday at 10am there is a free tour of the Thassos Marble factory just outside of Thassos Town, heading towards the village of Panagia .