| Kastro is located Northeast of Limenaria toward the center of the island. The medieval village sits at an altitude of 450 meters, and like many of the other mountain villages, it cannot be seen from the coast. This helped to protect the village and it’s residents from the plundering of pirates through the ages.|
It’s name derived from the ruins of a castle that once stood there. Jacob Gatelluzzi, a Genoan to whom Byzantine Emperor Emanuel II Palaiologus gave both Thassos and the island of Lesvos to in 1414, built the castle on the mountaintop at which the village is located. The Gattilussi family ruled Thassos for 40 years. Evidence of this can be found on three plaques on a wall of The Church of Agios Athanasios.
This lonely mountain village is isolated from the world and is a spectacular sight to see
| The village was totally deserted for many years as the residents left the village to find work in the coastal villages. Many went to the lowlands where they farmed their land and tended their olive groves. Others went to mine ores for the Speidel Company, which was located in Limenaria. Some even went to work in other countries as they heard that there was a high demand for laborers with good pay. || |
The village is surrounded by mountains
This sleeping village is very peaceful
| In the last few years, some of the old houses have been restored and are used as summer or weekend homes. Other than that, it is mostly a sleeping village throughout the year, especially in the Winter. The silence breaks around the 18th of January for Saint Athanasios Day. Normally lasting for a week, people travel to Kastro for this big celebration and have a festiv time with food, drinks, music and fun.|
| You can get to Kastro from Limenaria by car which will take about 35 minutes. If you are more adventurous, try walking from Theologos or Limenaria, a pleasant nature walk averaging between two to three hours. If you choose to drive, it is best to go in a jeep or any high-riding vehicle that is not too close to the ground as the road is little more than a rocky trail and can damage your vehicle if not careful.|
Much of the village is still uninhabitted
"A Hundred Winters of Loneliness..."
The traditional settlement rouses from its lethargy for a few days only to celebrate the memory of St. Athanasios. The messages of protection and ecotourist development haven't arrived here yet...
| Being built up on a stony flat at Thassos' mountainous heart and surrounded by deep ravines and gorges, the Castle preserves many signs of the past, medieval erections and vestiges of Gattilusie of the Genoa dynasty. Throughout the centuries, the settlement moved through periods of glamour and decline but remained however an everlasting place of secrets and miracles, a cradle of culture and harmonic coexistence of man and nature. In present days, being already abandoned by its inhabitants, the Castle rouses from the lethargy for few only days, being in the middle of winter, to become again the center of St. Athanasios' celebration day. Music and songs reverberate through the medieval narrow streets, the house chimneys smoke and the inhabitants meet around the big common table, "the coulbani". |
The days of fiesta pass ever so quickly and Castle is left again into ravages of time and the barbarity of certain arbitrary settlement since 1978. It seems that many more years of loneliness are still to come, until it will be protected and promoted...
Like an impervious ring...
Being built up on an altitude of 450m (the highest of all Thassos settlements), the Castle was a fortress site of Gattilusi of the Genoa dynasty that had the island in its occupancy during the period 1414-1455. Based on three inscriptions that are now walled in St. Athanasios' church, the first fortification on the settlement was made on 1403 including the castle, the water reservoir and the tower. Gattilusi family reinforced the fortification on 1414-1416.
| After the Turkish occupancy, the number of Castle inhabitants seemed to increase with people from other settlements of the island and refugees from Constantinople. The third inscription, made in 1462, attributes the Castle's reconstruction to two Constantinopolitans, Constantine and Ioannis. The fact is that the settlement became an important commercial center of the island, flourishing until the end of the 19th century. The Castle owns its historical identity partially to its location. It has been erected on a flat area of rock that is detached by deep ravines from the surrounding mountains, and shapes therefore a small impervious ring. |
In the settlement's center, the most flat and even part of it, the church with its bell-tower and arched arcade remains standing along with the ruins of an old cafe and the school built in 1897. A high stonewall with two entrances, one on the east and another on the northwest side encompasses this complex. By the rocky edges of the settlement, the precinct of modern day's communal cemetery - that coincides with the medieval precinct - and the arched-roofed reservoir stands by the tower foundations that were used as a ossuary.
St. Athanasios' Church
The Church of St. Athanasios is dated, according to its proprietary inscription, back to January 1804. Based on tradition, the church was constructed within forty days after the license was obtained by the Sultan. Since time was short and none could be lost, the whole village participated in its construction.
| The stones used for the contruction were coming from the old castle ruins. This explains the three medieval inscriptions on the church's South wall. The one that depicts Gattilusi's rule was placed up town. The eldest still remember the church as its came, the time when four priests officiated. It's not random that the church is the epicenter of the settlement's periodic resuscitation. It is here that they continue to celebrate the memory of St. Athanasios on January 18th. Architectonically the church is a three-aisles wooden roofed basilica with an arched arcade along its south side, where "coulbani" is roofed, the large dinner table that all inhabitants share on St. Athanasios celebration day. |
It is a typical sample of Thassian ecclesiastic architecture that had a wide influence all around the Balkan areas during the Turkish occupation.
A Protection Regime (?)
St. Athanasios Church is characterized as a historic scheduled monument under a ministerial decision of 1980, "because...,it is one of the oldest churches of Thassos that preserves many authentic figures useful for the study of ecclesiastic architecture of 19th century and the island history in general". It is subject for its protection to 12th Superintendence of Byzantine Antiquities (of Kavala) and Culture Ministry.
Source: The newspaper "The Thassiaki" - Special Edition
Edited By: Go-Thassos.Gr