The capital of Samothrace is not a port, as maybe some might expect. It is situated inland, in the North-West, in a small valley nestled among the cliffs of Mount Saos. The town's elusive location was established in the Middle Ages with the purpose of hiding it from the pirates lurking around the island. Thus, even when only a few kilometers away from the shore, Chora remains almost invisible to the eye.
In Greek "chora" means "bigger town, capital of an island". Today Chora isn't the largest settlement anymore, as only 700 inhabitants remain, less than Kamariotissa's 1000, but it still is the administrative center. The Town Hall, the Fire Brigade, the Medical Center (still being repaired after the disastrous floods of September 2017) and the Cultural Center are all situated here.
The word "capital" might be a little too fancy when describing this picturesque little town. Chora (on some maps you'll find it as Samothrace) is nothing but a traditional village, built like an amphitheater on the slopes of Mount Saos. The stone houses seem to huddle together, but they were erected this way so that the sunlight may reach all the buildings. Most of them have two stories, a wooden balcony and a red tile roof, on which rocks are often placed, so that the strong winter winds wouldn't carry them away.
Chora's charm lies in the steep narrow streets, dotted with jewelry and souvenir shops, caffes and restaurants, overlooked by the old ruins of a Genoese citadel standing on top of a cliff. Speaking of souvenirs, visiting To Gid' - Goat Shop is a must.
What to do in Chora
There are not many typical tourist attractions here – you can visit what is left from the citadel, a small folk museum or the Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, where the relics of the five new martyrs are kept. The thing is that the village in its entirety is an attraction and the Greek state named it a protected traditional settlement since 1978.
Let yourself be lost in the cobbled streets and take your time absorbing the silence, gazing at the houses, noticing their distinct architecture and taking a photo (or one thousand) of the omnipresent cats. When you get tired, treat yourself to a break in one of the coffee shops. Try the pancakes and the omelets at Trapeza or To Stenaki, the sweets at Lefkos Pirgos or at Samothraki confectionery, boost your energy with a Greek frappe and taste the homemade pies and wooden oven baked bread from the old bakery. It was founded in 1853 and it's only open in the months of July and August.
A good time to be in Chora is in late afternoon, as the warm fading light of the sunset bathes the houses. Enjoy this moment and a view to die for at one of the bars with a cold beer or a glass of wine.
Chora could be a good place to stay if you are into traditional Greek villages. It's not by the sea, but it is quite close and you can easily reach the other parts of the island from there. Not to mention you are withing walking distance of the some of the most beautiful bars and coffee shops from Samothrace.