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Samothrace

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Samothrace is 24 nautical miles from Alexandroupoli.
Samothrace, a relatively small island in the North Aegean near Turkey, has made one major contribution to world culture – the magnificent sculpture of Nike (Victory) that gave its image to the Rolls Royce radiator cap and its name to the world’s largest sneaker manufacturer. Nearly eleven feet tall, winged, headless, and armless, the statue is a masterpiece of Hellenistic sculpture, summing up all the accomplishments of the Greeks at the very historical moment that their power was beginning to wane.

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If you actually want to see Nike, however, you shouldn’t go to Samothrace; the sculpture has been in the Louvre since shortly after its 1863 discovery by French amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau.

Winged Victory of Samothrace Louvre
Winged Victory of Samothrace
It is a masterpiece of Greek sculpture from the Hellenistic era, dating from the beginning of the 2nd century BCE. It is composed of a statue representing the goddess Niké (Victory), whose head and arms are missing, and its base in the shape of a ship’s bow.
The total height of the monument is 5.57 meters including the socle. The statue alone measures 2.75 meters. The sculpture is one of a small number of major Hellenistic statues surviving in the original, rather than Roman copies. Winged Victory has been exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris, at the top of the main staircase, since 1884.

What should draw you to Samothrace is a chance to see a less commercialized Greek island that remains rich in natural wonders – one of the highest mountain ranges in the Aegean, with clear streams of cascading waterfalls and rock pools for swimming, a landscape that stays green through late summer, and a coastline of secluded sand and pebble beaches. And though the original Nike may be absent, her spirit lingers in the beautifully sited Sanctuary of the Great Gods where she was discovered, looking north over the ocean.

The island is distinguished for its wild, virginal nature, with its forests of plane trees reaching the sea.

Gastronomy

Katsikaki (young goat) is the trademark of Samothrace. As everyone would expect, on an island where the number of goats is about 20 times bigger than the human population, the star dishes will be made of goat meat. Goat meat is cooked in various ways – on the spit, in a pan, in parchment, stuffed with rice, entrails with spices (gemisto), with wine, potatoes, eggplants, xuccini, or even with honey quinces or plums.

Katsikaki is good, but do not forget that you’re on an island, so the seaside tavernas offer fresh fish and seafood. Try different kinds of fish, grilled or fried, with lemon and olive oil sauce. Squids or octopus, grilled or cooked in vinegar are served as meze.

Other main dishes are the ones you can find all over Greece but try the manti a handmade pasta filled with minced meat and onions. As for the desserts, the local fruit is called “praousti” as they usually ripen before August (pro-Augusti).  It’s a prune type, also known as “mirabelle prune” and marmalade or spoon sweet is made out of them. “haslamas”, another local dessert is a syrup cake made out of wheat flour and semolina.

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view from cave of the sea surrounded by mountains

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