History of Samothrace
The island of Samothrace is found in the north-eastern Aegean, has an oval shape, an area of 178 km2, and has a distance of 32 (naval) miles from Alexandroupolis. Administratively it belongs to Evros Prefecture, in the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. The population of island numbers roughly 2500 residents, while it increases considerably during the summer. The morphological relief of the island is relatively multifarious, with flat, hilly and mountainous departments.
The mountain Saos forms the basic mountainous area of the island, with highest altitude of 1.611m (mountain top Feggari), constituting the third highest top of Aegean. According to Homer, Samothrace was the island from which Neptune (Poseidon) watched the fall of Troy. Researchers believe that the island was inhabited early, the precocious season of copper, from colonists from Thrace. It is believed that roughly in 700 b.C. Aeolians, speaking Greek, reached the island from Lesvos, settled and built the town Samothrace, an important town-state of antiquity.
The Greek settlers adopted the local religious creed of Great Gods, and built the impressive sanctuary of Great Gods, in the north-western foot of mountain Feggari. Later, this sanctuary became the main religious centre of the residents of Aeolia, Thrace and Macedonia.The religion of Ancient Gods was a mix of mysticism, idolatry of feminine deities of fertility and deities of Thrace’s hinterland.During the Byzantine period, during crusades, Samothrace was under Genoa’s control, that built many castles in the island.
The modern history of the island fits in with the history of Eastern Aegean, with the Ottoman domination lasting up to the beginning of the 20th century. The crowning antiquity discovered in the island is Niki of Samothrace, a statue dating back to 200 b.C. and represents victory.The statue was discovered in 1863 and today adorns the museum of Louvre, in Paris, in a prestigious place.The statue is made of marble and is thought that has been created as a monument for an important Greek naval martial victory.It is a female winged body that descended from the sky in the prow of a boat, while its feathers still flap and it looks as if it turns round its axis giving emphasis to the movement of the body.
Its feathers look like tearing its dress, which “is caressed” softly by the wind, showing off its strong body and its legs, while the drapery of its dress give emphasis in swirling movements. Niki of Samothrace is an unimpeachable sample of the sculptures of Hellenistic period. The name of its creator is unknown, but an engraving of the sculpture contains the word Rodios (from Rhodes), something that may imply the origin of the statue.