Panagia

 

A mountain village surrounded by a pine forest, with a view of the sea far below and a rugged peak far above, Panagia has a history spanning 300 years.

In XVIII century, in the face of pirate raids, inhabitants of the old town Thassos were forced to withdraw into the hills. That increased the population of Panagia. It was the island capital after the Greek war for independence in 1821. The village was named after the church of the same name, built in 1832.
At entry into Panagia, a fantastic view of the Golden Beach breaks to the east and to the mountains the opposite way. I passed through, or, better said, I grazed the town several times before purposefully going for a visit.I made daily trips from Limenas to some new place, discovering the realm of villages strewn across the mountain. The villages attract me wherever i go, as I feel that they hold their secrets much more closely than cities. Panagia was a revelation.

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Mornings are particularly pretty in Panagia

As sun rays fight to break through a sycamore canopy, the bakeries are in full gear, luring people to step in and grab a breakfast, or just a treat. The whole place smells of vanilla. Coffee is taken and newspapers are read in the kafenion at the village square. The elders tell tales of the life past and the youngsters race to catch up with their work.
The wave of tourists surging over Panagia with the evening is the bread and butter for many small shops offering local products – from handmade souvenirs, over olive oil, delicious honey, wine, tsipouro brandy, liqueurs, to pasta or healing herbs. There is often a queue for a table in restaurants emanating an irresistible aroma of grilled lamb, a Panagian specialty.

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Water from Ypsario, at 1,204 meters the highest peak on Thassos, springs in upper reaches of Panagia.

The Spring of Love is famous and a main attraction. A square, beneath sycamore trees, is adorned with messages of love. The Bridge of Love, leaping over a small fountain filled by water from the three springs there, is a must for photographs. From there, running water is channeled through the village, running as a brook, but also through little canals  along the houses and under the streets.
A 20 minutes walk from Panagia there is the Drakotrypa, the Dragon Cave. It was named after stalactites in the shape of a dragon. It has not been explored in detail, but that doesn’t stop many tourists from summoning their courage for an underground adventure.