Sanctuary of the Great Gods

Sanctuary of the Great Gods

The Sanctuary of the Great Gods is a complex of temples and buildings was the heart of Samothrace in ancient Greek and Roman times. It is spread over an area of 50 acres, located on the north side of the island next to Paleopolis, and 10,7 km from Pezoulia Cottages. 

A particularly impressive sight, veiled with a mystical atmosphere, it was dedicated to the worship of the Great Gods and the performance of the Kavirian Mysteries. The Great Gods or Kaviri were chthonic (subterranean) deities who predated the Olympian gods, and their identity remains enigmatic. The central deity among them was the Great Mother, whose secret name was Axieros, a goddess associated with fertility and depicted on coins of the period as a seated woman with a lion beside her.

There is evidence of religious activity as early as the 7th century BC, while the temples and other buildings of the complex were constructed during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. The most important permanent structures were the Temenos, the Sacred Palace, the Dome of Arsinoe, the Sacred Circle, the Propylon of Ptolemy II, the Stoa and the Monument of Victory, an open structure resembling the prow of a ship and bearing the Statue of Winged Victory of Samothrace.

The Sanctuary was particularly important in ancient Greek times and the Roman period and received delegations from all the known city states of antiquity, but participation in the mysteries was allowed only to those initiated. Prominent men of antiquity such as the historian Herodotus, the Spartan ruler Lysander and many Athenian citizens participated in the mysteries. Plato and Aristophanes mention the Sanctuary in their works. The Sanctuary was associated with the Macedonian kingdom of Philip II and Alexander the Great and their successors, and according to Plutarchos, this is where Philip II and Olympiada, Alexander the Great's parents first met. It was also the place where the last Macedonian king fled after being chased by the Romans invading the Kingdom. Finally, the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the island and its sanctuary.

The site was excavated in the 19th and 20th centuries, with the discovery of the Statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace in 1863 by the French consul marking the beginning of the excavations. The Archaeological Museum of Samothrace, located next to the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, hosts findings of the excavations, while unfortunately the Statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace is exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Distance from Pezoulia Cottages: 10,7 km.

Duration of the route Pezoulia Cottages - Sanctuary of the Great Gods: 13 minutes (with car)

logo of Pezoulia Cottages in Samothraki

Pezoulia Cottages 


Pezoulia - Ai Ilias, Samothrace, Greece

0030 6932743150