A Journey Through History
Discover The Archeological Treasures Of Maronia
The Ruins Of Acropolis and The Ruins Of The Roman Cities
On the 4th km of the road Maroneia – S. Charalampos, on the left next to the road, you can see part of the west wall of the ancient city (4ht century BC). A topographical plan of the same region provides important information about the dimensions of the city. At the top of the mountain Ismaros which is called S. Athanasios (altitude: 678m) there are ruins of the acropolis and its towers. The visitor needs about an hour to cover the distance, but it is forbidden to arrive all the way to the top because of the existence of a military campus.
On the 4,7 km of the same road, there is a sign that, after 30m, leads to the terrific colorful mosaic floor of an ancient house, dated from the 3rd century BC. In the end of this street, on the right, before the port of S. Charalampos, the excavations have brought to light a monumental entrance dating from the Roman Times. This entrance was made of marble stones from the region. It is possible that it was the entrance to the bazaar of the city and that it was built during the years of the emperor Ardianos, who had visited Maronia in 124-125 AC. Ruins have also been found in the same position. In a position called Palaiohora, on the left side, the excavations have brought to light another colorful floor with exceptional decoration from a basilica dating from the 6th century.
The port of the ancient city, parts of which are visible from various points, was built in the 4th century BC and had a great role as far as the protection of its commercial and military fleet is concerned. The modern jetty must have maintained the shape and the position of the old one.
On the 4,4 km from Maroneia the street to the south leads to Marmaritsa – Sinaxi. After 200m a sign leads to a space where the foundations of a whole block of clay, which is currently exposed in the Archeological Museum of Komotini.
On the 4,8th km from Maroneia a sign leads to the ancient amphitheater, in the area of Kabana, from where the view of the olive trees and the sea is really fascinating. This theatre must be a creation of the Hellenistic Period.
During the Roman Times, this region had been used for battles between wild animals, that is why protective bars have been added around the orchestra. It must have had capacity of 2500 people. The pipe which passes in front of the orchestra was of great importance because it was conveyed the torrent’s water far from the stage.
On the 5,5th km from Maroneia we see the ancient quarries. This is the region called Marmaritsa. The visitor can also see cuts, where the quarrymen used to place the wooden key-stones in order to dig up the marble. The landscape with the steep grey and white rocks, remainings from the quarries, that reach the sea, has an imposing beauty for the visitor who prefers to take a trip by boat across the shore.
The Walls of St. Georgio
On the 7,4th km of the same road, on the left, on the 500m, the presence of a guide and climbing capabilities are necessary. At this point the walker meets part of the walls of S. Georgio and an impressive megalithic entrance with monolithic doorposts that are still there. The large stones of granites that are scattered in the perimeter of the mountain were a natural stronghold for the inhabitants. This stronghold was completed by the megalithic walls. On the peak of the mountain of S. Georgio with the steep slopes (altitude 461m) the walker can see part of the walls of the powerful acropolis as well as walls of an imposing building, maybe a palace. The samples of ceramics featuring engravings of the 9th and 8th century BC show the presence of a city which belonged to the Kikkones from Thrace. Maybe this city was Omiros’s Ismara. The walker needs about an hour and a half to visit all these places, but the result is worthy for those who love walking, mounting, natural beauty and archaeology.
On the southern feet of S. Georgio next to the sea, we can see the region Sinaxi. The ruins of a monastery dating from the 9th – 12th century have been found there. This monastery was founded at the place of a Christian basilica dating from the Age of the emperor Ioustinianos. From that point you can follow a road that leads to the beach Petrota.
The Ancient Town Of Mesimvria
After that you can see the ruins of the ancient town Mesimvria-Zone and walk through its ruins, where you can find examples of the way of life in the developed city of the 5th – 4th century BC. There’s a European path called E6 that passes through Maroneia and reaches the island of Samothraki. To return from Maroneia to Xilagani and Komotini you can take the road passing through Proskinites village.
The Cave Of Maronia
After that village, on the left side of the road, the visitor can find a cave with rich natural embellishments. Stalactites and stalagmites… The study has been made by Anna Petrohilou (ground plan, paths, name of parts of the cave). The investigation of the archeologist E. Pentaros, proved that this cave used to be a house or place for worship dating from the Neolithic Period until the years of Byzantium. Apollonios from Rhode mentions this cave as Orpheus’s house. Tradition attributes this cave to the Cyclops Polyphemus, the one-eyed giant blinded by Odysseus. There’s one unique species of bat that lives there. The cave can’t be visited yet, but it’s bound to be soon open to visitors. The cave is about 10.000 m2 in size and the length of its paths are 200m, while the temperature is 16 C.
Folkloric Museum of Xilagani
Xilagani, the third biggest town of Rodopi is the head of Maroneia and it is 17 kms far from Komotini. The area is rural and it has rich fields. The Cultural Association of Xilagani, that was founded in 1981, is very active and organizes greek dances. Moreover, it helps a lot at the organization of the traditional celebrations of the town. One of those famous celebrations is the celebration of “Mpampo” on the 8th of January. Other famous celebrations are the “Isfania”, the festival of Resumption, the celebration of the “kourbani” and the meeting of the residents of Xilagani on the 13th – 15th of August. Thanks to the members of the Cultural Association of Xilagani, there is a remarkable folkloric Museum, which is often riched, and a local newspaper.
Before the Greek colonists, the residents of Ismaros were the famous Kikkones. They had power over important cities such as Xantheia, Maroneia and Ismaros or Ismara. Ismaros is assimilated with the imposing acropolis of S. Georgio. There, was located the holy grove of God Apollo, where the priest Maronas lived. Maronas was the son of Euanthis and the priest of God Apollo. Omiros describes Odysseus’s arrival, the hospitality and gifts that Maronas offered him, as well as the battle with Kikkones. According to the sources, the ancient city was founded by Maronas.
The city was built in the 7the century BC on the southest slopes of Ismaros by Chios colonists. The colonists must have installed in the region peacefully, according to the presence of Maronas, the name of the city, the worship of God Apollo which was the same for Kikkones and Maroneia and the adoption of the horse as the symbol of Maroneia. In the beginning, the economic development of the city was based on agriculture and cattle-raising. Vineyards, olive trees and corn were mainly cultivated. In ismaros there were forests with thick vegetation and grazing grounds where, according to Omiros, the sheep and the oxes of Ismara wer fed.
The silver coins from 520 BC until the years of Fillipos the 2nd, and late3r the golden coins used during the first half of the 4ht century BC show a remarkable financial development. Maroneia was part of the Alliance of Athens and as a result it had the obligation to pay taxes. In the beginning the tax was one talanto and 300 drachmas. Nevertheless after the foundation of Amphipolis in 437 BC, the tax was increased to 3 talanta. In the 4th century BC, Maroneia had galleys, army and financial power.
In 167 AC an alliance between Rome and Maroneia took place. Its text and laws are still maintained on a stone column. In this period four drachmas silver coins were put into circulation. The fact that those coins had the figure of Dionyseus sculptured on them indicates that the peaceful period brought new commercial and financial development in the city. Inscriptions from the Hellenistic Period refer to the existence of a Parliament and Municipality, thus the regime must have been democratic. From the coins we have information about the names of many noblemen who were responsible for the mint.
The most important worships were those of God Apollo and God Dionysus. The head of God Dionysus and the grapevine were represented on the two basic monetary types of Maroneia. The worship of priest Maronas was famous too. Other Gods who were worshipped were Asklipios, Hercules, Poseidon, Hermes, Keveli and during Roman Times the gods of Egypt. The intellectual and artistic life of Maroneia was represented by Sotadis, the “poet of the ionic songs”, the rural writer Igesias whose famous book was entitled “about waters” (“peri ydaton”) and the painter Athenian, student of the painter Glaukion.