The island of Samothrace was very famous in the ancient times for one of the few sanctuaries of the Greek world where initiation ceremonies took place. The mystery cult helped the initiates to become better person and to get protection from the Gods. Unfortunately little is known today about these rituals, as they had to be kept secret by the participants.
The Sanctuary dates from the pre-hellenic period (bronze age) and it survived the many earthquakes and pirate attacks, being rebuilt for several times. As the Christianity became an official religion, the Sanctuary was gradually abandoned.
The legend goes that the king Philip II of Macedon and the princess Olympias, Alexander the Great's parents, met in Samothrace, during their initiation in the mysteries.
Today you can visit the ruins of the old city (Paleopoli) and the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, which are situated in a beautiful green valley of Saos Mountain. It is the ideal setting for introducing you in the sacred ambience of the place.
The ruins date from several epochs, the most of them from the Hellenic and Roman times, but there are also the remains of a Byzantine citadel.
A visit to the small Archaeological Museum is recommended before exploring the old building remains. You'll find it right at the site entrance. Thus you'll first have an idea of how the buildings of the Sanctuary used to look.
The Sanctuary of the Great Gods is open daily, from 8.30 a.m. to 15.30 p.m. (from spring through autumn) and the entrance ticket costs 3 Euro per person.