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Culture Archaeology Monuments Fortresses Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Evros Municipality of Samothraki

Chora is built on a hillside of an area not visible from the sea and consists an administrative and economic center of activity for the island. It is situated about 5km away from the port of Kamariotissa.
(Photo: Pantsoglou Christos)
Picturesque narrow streets lead the visitor around the town.
(Photo: Pantsoglou Christos)

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Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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Municipality of Thasos
Municipality of Kavala
Municipality of Komotini
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Municipality of Samothraki
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02/12/2007
Samothrace – Fortification of Chora

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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In the 11th century BC, in response to certain reasons, possibly due to pirate attacks, the population abandoned the coastal area of the island seeking shelter inland.
Three megalithic monuments of the Early Iron Age were traced already since 1923 at the location of Vrychos on the northern slopes of the hill. The ruins of an extensive fortified enceinte standing on the oblong and relatively flat top of the hill bear “Cyclopean” features. The wall is built with irregular stone blocks of different sizes, joined with riprap and loosely attached small stones that form the strong exterior facades. The width of the wall ranges from 2.20 m to 3.30 m.
The fortification consists of two main sections divided by a stretch of wall. On the southern section of the fortification, which is smaller than the northern and has the advantage of being naturally protected, no other permanent constructions were found apart from a part of a stone circular (?) foundation. The houses of the settlement were scattered on the slopes of the hill, where this was possible by the morphology of the ground. On the southeastern section of the enceinte, a lower fragmentized part encloses a slope formed in two successive, relatively flat terraces. A smaller enceinte of the same period as of the aforementioned section lies on the top of the hill of Agianemi, almost 2 km southeast of Vrychos, and is associated with the worship customs of the inhabitants in the late historic times with obvious Christian origins.
On account of similar reasons to those that forced the population of the island to abandon the coastal area and move inland during the antiquity, the inhabitants of Samothrace sought shelter inland and moved to Chora. The exact reasons and date of the relocation of the community remain unknown.
The tower and the fortifications in Chora constructed in this period are remarkable examples of castle architecture on Greek soil. The first medieval fortification in Chora dates probably to the late 10th century AD. On the SE corner of the enceinte lies an important strong circular tower bearing elaborate rubble masonry and courses of plinth. On the NW corner of the enceinte stands an oblong rectangular tower with a vaulted-roof first floor that probably served as a water deposit during the sieges.
According to the inscriptions found inserted in the walls, the Gattilusi carried out additional works for the reinforcement and the extension on this fortification. The first inscription records the Genoese ruler Palamede, while the second inscription lying next to the one-headed eagle, which is the emblem of the Gattilusi, and under the emblem of the Paleologi, the two-headed eagle and the monogram of Paleologi, records that “Palamede Gattilusio, overlord of Ainos and Samothrace, a distinguished man, a defender of the city, … erected this tower”.