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

One of the three towers of the fortification of the Gattilusi in Palaiopolis. Their construction required the use of ancient building materials as well.
(Photo: Article on 'Kathimerini')

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02/12/2007
Samothrace – Fortification of Palaiopolis

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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The ancient city of Samothrace, built on the northern foot of mount Aghios Georgios, was naturally fortified and only some sections of the city walls were artificially fortified.
The fortification is almost 2.4 km long and encloses an area of about 200,000 square metres, which is quite larger than the built area. The walls are made of slightly carved blocks of stones of different dimensions, though there are more recent sections of isodomic or pseudo-isodomic masonry with rectangular stone plinths as well as other sections of polygonal masonry. The wall consists of two fases whose inner gap is filled with riprap, earth and rocks. The width ranges from 2.30 m to 4 m, except from its northern side where the width is 1.5 m. The wall is 5-6 m high and dates from the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC.
The fortification includes 4 known gates; yet, another gate (E) is cited between gates B and C. The most interesting is Gate A that lies lower on the western section of the enceinte and apparently connected the City with the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. Two parallel cantilevers placed vertically to the walls, form a corridor, which is open inside, while its exterior part ends up to a rectangular structure that was added in a later period and probably served as a gate or a rampart (in that case, Gate A is placed 12 m to the northeast).
During medieval times, the Gattilusi raised a fortress complex over an imposing rocky hill near the harbour. Ancient building material from the area was used for its construction. The medieval fortification of Palaiopolis, over the Early Christian basilica, was constructed in 1431/1433 and formed part of the Samothracian defence programme of Gatillusi against the Turks and, mainly, the Venetians. The fortified complex contains a moat, an enceinte and three towers; the southeastern tower is preserved almost intact.
The masonry of carved stones and lime mortar contained several marble architectural members, mainly from the buildings of the Ancient City. The three-storey wooden-floor tower with a blind ground floor is rectangular and reaches a height of almost 17.75 m. A simple niche pierced in the northeastern wall of the first floor formed the entrance of the tower that was accessed by an exterior movable staircase. There is a round deposit in the ground floor connected through a pipe with the last floor for the collection of rainwater. The interior staircase was made of wood up to the level of the third floor; at that point the staircase was carved into the walls that ended up to a rooftop room made of stones and empty earthenware jars for weight reduction. The roof is vaulted in the shape of a semi cylinder and reinforced by an arch-rib in the middle. The interior faces of the walls bear various arched niches of various shapes, each one of them having embrasures. On the southeastern wall and almost at the level of the second floor, there is a roofed gallery, now reconstructed, with two rectangular murder holes opened on its floor between the corbels that used to support it. These stone corbels stood on the circuit of the tower and almost 2 m under the level of the rooftop room, probably supporting a parapet. The gate of the fortress complex stood on the southwestern part of the northwestern side of the tower.