back to map

Current Name
Thasos (LimenasThasou)
Ancient Name
Medieval Name
Limenas Thasou
History of the name

The island, and thus the city of Thasos, according to Herodotus, took its name from Thasos of Foiniki who while searching for his lost sister, Europe, passed from the island and was impressed by its wood supplies and snow-white marble and gold.

Place :

Geopolitical Unit
Administrative subdivision
Municipality of Thasos
Thasos is located in the North Aegean and is about 6.5 miles away from the nearest shore of Macedonia. The capital, Limenas, is located on the North-East part of the island at a very privileged position because of its natural fortification and the access it has to a safe port which ensures communication with the shores on the opposite side.
Foudation Date
The settlement was founded by colonists from Paros in the 7th century BC.
Current condition
Limenas is currently a resort for tourists and has been turned into a commercial and administrative center.

The island is inhabited since the prehistoric times. In the 7th century BC, colonists from Paros arrive to the island. The new residents choose to live on the Northern part of the island where now the village Limenaria is. From the time of their settlement up to the times of Filipp B, with some short breaks, is a period of flourishing for the island.

With Macedonia being taken over by the Romans, Thasos is on the winning side and enjoys privileges which are the starting point of its economic growth. At the same time, there is intense structural activity whith new buildings being built and old ones being renewed.

In the early Christian era, Thasos belonged to the suburbs of Macedonia Prima. In the middle of the 5th century it is referred to as see of bishopric. The existence of many early Christian basilicas is proof that the island continued flourishing during the early Christian centuries.

In the times of Justin B’ (567-578) it seems like there was a great destruction on the island, while there are traces of an earthquake in 610-620 which stroke many Macedonian cities.

From the 7thcentury and on, Thasos gradually decays. In the mid-Byzantine era the island was a place of exile, without though being completely abandoned by its residents. With the crash of the Saracens in Crete in 961 and the new peaceful conditions in the Aegean, the settlement in the place of modern Limenas is being resided again.

During Francocracy (1204-1261) it isn’t clear in which latin leadeshipThasos was added to. After 1261, with the reconstitution of the Byzantine Empire, it was used as a naval base for the byzantine fleet against pirates and Latins.

In 1307, the Genuat Tedisio Zaccaria took over Thasos temporarily. With the re-take from the Byzantines, the emperor Andronikos B’ made sure that 2000 Koumanoi settled in the island.

In 1357 the island was given by law (pronomio), along with Anaktoroupolis and Chrysoupolis, to Alexios and Ioannis, two brothers from Vithynia. The two rulers were interested in the re-organization of Thasos and started fortifying the island.

In 1384, Ioannis, after Alexios’ death, gave the island to the monastery of Pantokratoras in the Holy Mountain (Agion Oros).

In 1403 a byzantine castle was founded in the interior of the island, where the village Castro is located. A little later (1420) the emperor Manuel B’ Palaiologos gives Thasos to the Genovese family Gattilusi, which kept it under its command, with a few breaks of Turkish and Venetian occupation, until it was finally given to the Turks in 1459.

During the Turkish occupation, Thasos was a timar for the admiral of the Turkish fleet and had a certain self-government.

In 1813, with a sultan’s firman, Mahmut B’ gave the island to Mehmet Ali, a pasha from Egypt, but kept the governing rights for himself. This strange Turkish-Egyptian co-governance gave the island tax and political privileges which continued until 1902, when the Turks took back all of their administrative powers. In 1913 Thasos is being included in the Greek State.


Although there are quite a lot of findings from the ancient times, the information we have on the Byzantine period is very few.

The available archaeological data indicate that Limenas in Thasos was the only city on the island during the Byzantine times that had developed urban organization. In the place of many ancient temples there are new places of worship built instead, while the city grid remains the same.

From the early Christian era many basilicas and small chapels have been traced, inside and outside the city walls. This fact shows that the city during the early Christian period experienced great flourishing. In the center of the city there is a three aisled basilica dated to the 4th century to which later on, two more rooms were added on the east side and on the west side a martyrion was attached. A second basilica dated to the 5th century was found near the Northern coast of Thasos, while in the beginning of the next century a big cross-shaped basilica was built in the North-West corner of the city near the sea. Another three-aisled basilica was found a few meters to the West of ancient Heracleion. At a short distance from the basilica there is the apse of an early Christian chapel while the mosaic floor of another chapel was traced near today’s Church of Agios Nikolaos.

Archaeological excavations have brought to light remains of many private dwellings as well. In the areas outside the walls, traces of individual or mass tombs have been found.

After the destruction of the city in the 7th century, we meet handy constructions mainly outside the walls, in which ancient material is being used for the second time (spolia).

Houses that belong to the medieval settlement of Thasos where traced at the neck which connects the acropolis to the top where the temple of Athena used to be. Specifically, six rooms attached to each other were found attached to the ancient walls.

A few movable findings from the 14th-15th centuries are attributed to the late byzantine period and also some walls of buildings which were found on the premises of the Archaeological Museum.


The city of Thasos (Limenas) used to have two harbors. Its military harbor was one of the most distinct samples of closed harbors in antiquity. It had two breakwaters which ended up to circular towers. On their position today there are two lighthouses. This harbor was basically an extension of the city’s fortification and had dockyards (neoria), closed spaces where the military ships of the fleet would be kept inside for safety reasons and would go under repair.

A bit to the North there was an open commercial harbor which, on the North-East, had a very strong breakwater so as to protect commercial boats from the northern winds. Alongside this breakwater there was also a circular tower, traces of which as well as of the breakwater’s, are clearly visible even today when the weather is calm.

The original state of the navy harbor is dated back to the 6th – beginnings of 5th century BC. In the middle of the 5th century the dockyards are being built.

During the early Christian period there is great interest for the harbor, but it is used for the commercial needs of the city which are starting to rise. It is at that time when a tower is built between the North-East side of the market and the harbor. There is also reconstruction of the North-East part of the pier. This resulted in the change of the harbors shape as well as a transition of its entrance to the current position.

After the city was destroyed in the 7th century, the harbor is abandoned and it is used again in the 10th century. In the sources it is mentioned as marble-port (marmarolimin).

In the 14th century it served as the headquarters of a squadron of the navy which Michael H’ had created. It is therefore turned into a strategic point of the Northern Aegean.

Later, the island suffers pirate invasions and the harbor is abandoned.

Nowadays, in the spot where the navy harbor used to be, lies a harbor facility known to the locals as “little or old harbor”.


The fortification’s enclosure of the settlement is 3515 meters long. Its thickness is 2.5 – 6.5 m. and its construction is dated back to the 5th – beginnings of the 6th century BC. Until now, 11 towers have been traced very close to the gates and they protect the North-West side and the West side of the wall, which were the most vulnerable ones.

The gates, which were mainly located on the north and west side of the walls in order to help with the communication of the harbor to the rest of the island, are dated back to the classical times and they have a distinguishable shape as far as their architecture and their decoration are concerned.

After the destruction of the city in the beginning of the 7th century AD, the residents fortified a long piece which measures were 85 X 35 meters in a privileged position that looked as if it was a natural bastion. From this kind of acropolis which also had a bulwark on its west side, the position of a small gate of 11.5 meters width is also known. The castle went under a lot of reconstruction in the 14th century by the Genovese and the Gattilusi in the first half of the 15th century. On the southern part of the acropolis there were two ramparts which protected the entrance that led to the castle. On the western part of the fortification there are two towers from the time of the Gattilusi preserved until today.

During the last - Byzantine era, fortification works appear on the harbor too. According to sources, in the last quarter of the 14th century, the great primicerius Ioannis, built a fortress around the “marble port”. In this fortress overlooked a rectangular tower made of re-used material and it was meant exclusively for the protection of the harbor. Its enclosure was 70 meters long and was surrounded by a ditch. In 1384 the great primicerius gave it as a gift to the Monastery of Pantokrator.

Medieval Sites


  • Acropolis
  • Ancient Market
  • Ancient Theater



  • Archaeological Museum of Thasos



Agios Nikolaos Church

Textual Sources

·  Ηρόδοτος, Ιστορίαι VI.46

·  Θουκυδίδης, Iστορία Ι.101.1, Ι.200.2, 3.4.104-105, 8.64.2-4

·  Ξενοφών, Ελληνικά 12

·  Πλίνιος, Naturalis Historia, VII.209

·  Πλούταρχος, Βίοι Παράλληλοι (Κίμων) 14.2

·  Ψευδοσκύλλαξ, Περίπλους 67  

  • Archives de l’ Athos XVII, Actes du Pantocrator, ed. V. Kravari, Paris, 1991, no 11, l.41. p.36 – 39.

ThomasG.,DiplomatariumVenetolevantinumsiveActaetDiplomata res VenctasGraecasatqueLevantisillustrantia a. 1300-1453,Venezia 1899, σ. 166-167.

  • ΑΔ.
  • Αξιώτης Π.Ι, Ιστορία της Θάσου, Θεσσαλονίκη 1953.
  • Βακαλόπουλος Α. Ε., Ιστορία της Θάσου 1453 – 1912, Θεσσαλονίκη 1984.
  • ΔαδάκηΣτ.,Πληροφορίες για την παλαιοχριστιανική και βυζαντινή Θάσο, ΑΕΜΘ 8 (1994), σ.335 – 342.
  • ΔαδάκηΣτ., GirosCh., Αρχαιολογικός χάρτης Θάσου. ΒυζαντινοίΧρόνοι, ΑΕΜΘ 5 (1991), σ. 383 – 397.

·Εmpereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1989, "Thasos: Le port", 

B.C.H.113, 2, 734-740.

·EmpereurJ-Y., SimossiA., 1990, "Thasos: Leport",

B.C.H. 114, 2, 881-887.

·EmpereurJ-Y., SimossiA., 1991, "Thasos: Le port",

B.C.H. 115, 2, 712-720.

·Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1992, "Thasos: Le port",

B.C.H. 116, 2, 721-726.

  • Empereur J-Y., Simossi A., 1993, "Thasos: Le port", B.C.H. 117, 2, 647-652.
  • EtienneR., ΕργασίεςτηςΓαλλικήςΑρχαιολογικήςΣχολήςστηΘάσοτο 1992, ΑΕΜΘ 6 (1992), σ. 617 – 621.
  • Καραγιάννη Φ., Οι βυζαντινοί οικισμοί στη Μακεδονία μέσα από τα αρχαιολογικά δεδομένα (4ος-15ος αιώνας),Θεσσαλονίκη 2010, σ.118-125.
  • LazaridisD, ThasosandItsPeraia, ΑρχαίεςΕλληνικέςΠόλεις 5, Αθήνα 1971.
  • ΜπακιρτζήςΧ., ΤισυνέβηστηΘάσοστιςαρχέςτου 7ουμ.Χ. αι.;,Φίλια Έπη εις Γεώργιον Μυλωνάν, τ. Γ’, Αθήνα 1989, σ. 339 – 341.
  • ΜπόνιαςΖ., ΔαδάκηΣτ.,Θάσος. Αρχαιότητες του Νομού Καβάλας, Καβάλα 2002.
  • ΟδηγόςτηςΘάσου, εκδ. Γαλλικής Αρχαιολογικής Σχολής, Αθήνα 1974.
  • PicardO., Ανασκαφές τηςΓαλλικήςΑρχαιολογικήςΣχολήςστηΘάσοτο 1988, ΑΕΜΘ2 (1988), σ. 387 – 394.
  • PicardO., Ανασκαφές τηςΓαλλικήςΑρχαιολογικήςΣχολήςστηΘάσοτο 1989, ΑΕΜΘ3 (1989), σ. 499 – 506.

Sodini J.P., La ville de Thassos à l’ époque protobyzantine. Leslacunesdelatopographie, ΔιεθνέςΣυμπόσιο: ΒυζαντινήΜακεδονία 324 – 1430 μ.Χ. (Θεσσαλονίκη, 29-31 Οκτωβρίου 1992), Θεσσαλονίκη 1995, σ. 279 – 294.

Visual Material

(plans, maps, photosetcfromthecityandtheharbor)

Writer / Date
Marina Livadioti
This website has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of European Centre for Byzantine and Post-Byzantine monuments and can in no way reflect the views of the European Union