Kastro village is actually a castle built at the high altitude of 450 metres, surrounded by deep ravines and gorges, in the central part of Thassos. It used to be a lively and wealthy place during the Venetian times but nowadays, it is totally deserted. The castle was built by the Gattilusie, a Genoan family and some of its walls still have inscriptions on it. The ruined walls surround the Church of Saint Athanassios, which is the oldest church of Thassos. In January, Kastro celebrates the feast day of Saint Athanassios and people from all over the island gather to eat, dance and sing.
Kastro, quite literally means ”the castle”. The village is to the north east of Limenaria towards the centre of the island. The village is built at an altitude of 450 m. above sea level, and because it is nestled in the mountains, it cannot be seen from the coast. This was a deliberate policy in the past and throughout the ages, to help protect villages and their residents from being despoiled and pillaged by pirates in the Mediterranean.
It’s name derived from the ruins of a castle that once stood there. Jacob Gatelluzzi, a Genoan to whom Byzantine Emperor Emanuel II Palaiologus gave both of the North Aegean islands of Thassos and Lesvos to in 1414, built the castle on the mountaintop at which the village is found today. The Gattilussi family ruled Thassos for 40 years. Evidence of this can be found on three plaques on a wall of the Church of St. Athanasios.
The village was deserted for very many years. The original residents had abandoned the village in order to work at the island’s coast. Many of them went to the flatter areas where they were able to cultivate their land, and take care of and benefit from their olive trees. Others went to work in the mines near Limenaria, to excavate the minerals on behalf of the Speidel Company. This work of course generated better income for them, and that led to a better standard of living for them than what they had previously been able to have in the village.