Maronia is situated on the South-Eastern part of Southern Rhodope and is a place of unique historical, geological and archaeological interest. It is built at the foot of Mount Ismarus, at an altitude of 700 m.
The region is characterized by its own distinctive microclimate, which fosters the development of a flora similar to that of central and southern Greece. The well-known Maronian olive and grapevine have been cultivated in Maronia since primeval times. Maronia has been a town of major importance in antiquity as it played a decisive role in commercial transactions from the Aegean to the Thracian land. The existence of great quantities of coins since the beginning of 5th century AD, as well as its participation and increasing contribution to the First Athenian Alliance feature its growing economical and political power. The current village of Maronia is located on a slope of Mount Ismarus and was transferred there in the 17th century due to pirate invasions.
The Synaksis coast is a coastal archaeological site located 10 km east of Maronia at the foot of Agios Georgios in the Thracian Sea. In this archaeological site you can find the ruins of an early Christian-Justinian three-nave basilica church, ruins of a monastery complex of the 9th century AD, as well as a chapel with mosaic floors. Next to the archaeological site lies the homonymous beach.
In antiquity there used to be a heroum dedicated to king Maron at this site and a guesthouse for the pilgrims travelling to the Sanctuary of Great Gods in Palaeopolis, Samothrace. According to the ancient geographer Strabo the heroum of king Maron lied in a district close to the capital city of the Cicones tribe, namely Ismara. At a later time an early-Christian church was built at the site and later on, a Christian monastery. The walls of the early-Christian church were used as gates of the monastery and that is the reason why they are used until today.
Ancient Ismara, just outside Maronia, is the first port that Ulysses and his companions anchor their ship after the end of the Trojan Ear and during the journey to Ithaca. Ulysses decides to destroy the city, punishing the residents for their alliance with the Trojans. The spot at which Ulysses debarked to conquer the land of the Cicones tribe, a small stream that connects the city to the sea, was called “Ulysses Stream”. Maron –a priest of Apollo- was saved by Ulysses, who spared his life, as a sign of respect to the gods. Among other gifts he received 12 amphorae of wine, which he used to fool the Cyclops Polyphemus. This specific spot has remained solid and untouchable for hundreds of years so far and is considered as a part of the authentic Thracian heritage.
Acropolis of Petrota
The acropolis of Petrota is situated on the rocky hill of Agios Georgios above the village Petrota. The newly built chapel of Saint George of Petrota can be found on the top of the hill, at an altitude of 280 m. Tradition states that celebrations used to be organized in memory of the Saint and a deer is said to willingly sacrifice itself on an annual basis. The most important part of the acropolis is the two stone carved thrones adjoining a parallelogram-shaped sacrificial altar with a blood outflow hole in its base, as well as an intersecting hole carved on the rocky frame of the altar. The two thrones, the first being a spacious seat and the second a narrower one, were dedicated to the Great Mother of the Gods, Cybele or Demetra and to the person sitting beside the Great Mother who could not have been any other than Dionysus. The rock is inaccessible, except for its northern side where the remains of a Byzantine wall and two circular towers can be found. In fact, it is an improvised fortification, with two circular towers on its edges and a gate between, which closes the only passage to the rock. Its construction is speculated to have taken place at the end of the 6th century and was used as a defense mechanism for the residents of the area. Different parts of this wall can be found today at a lower altitude. The one of the two towers can be found almost at its original height.
The Marmaritsa Beach is part of the Maronia – Makri rift, an ancient marble quarry. It is located in the south-east of the contemporary village of Maronia, close to the Ancient Theatre of Maronia.
The part of the rift in the area of Marmaritsa is characterized by impressive faults along the coastline. Impressive patterns can be observed in the marbles of Marmaritsa. Their creation can possibly be attributed to hydrothermal procedures. In many parts one can see incisions which were used by the quarrymen to insert wooden pegs in order to extract pieces of marble. Iron ore has been exploited since ancient times.
The Ancient Theatre of Maronia
The ancient theatre of Maronia is located north of the village, in the area called Kampana. The theatre lies within the fortification walls of ancient Maronia. The selection of the specific site for the construction of the theatre was probably made due to the acoustics of the spot, as well as the view to the Thracian Sea. The construction takes place in the Hellenistic Period and it is extensively used in the Roman Era. During the Roman Years the orchestra was transformed into an arena resulting in various modifications of the lower part of koilon (auditorium). The main theatre or koilon is divided by eight radiating stairways into nine sectors (kerkides), without any indication of a diazoma. According to the number of edolia found , that is marble seats, its capacity ascends to 2.500-3.000 viewers. The theatre was also equipped with a semi-circular drainage duct that led the rainwater off the koilon and the orchestra into the main channel of the drainage system.