Maroneia (Greek: Μαρώνεια) is a village and a former municipality in Rhodope regional unit. In legend, it was said to have been founded by Maron, a son of Dionysus, or even a companion of Osiris. According to Pseudo-Scymnus it was founded by Chios in the fourth year of the fifty-ninth Olympiad (540 BCE). According to Pliny, its ancient name was Ortagures or Ortagurea. It was located on the hill of Agios Charalampos, and archaeological findings date it as a much older and as a pure Thracian city.
In the era of Ancient Greece and Rome, Maroneia was famous for its wine production. The wine was esteemed everywhere; it was said to possess the odor of nectar, and to be capable of mixture with twenty or more times its quantity with water. That the people of Maroneia venerated Dionysus, we learn not just from its famous Dionysian Sanctuary, the foundations of which can still be seen today, but also from the city's coins. It was a member of the Delian League.
In 200 BCE it was taken by Philip V of Macedon; and when he was ordered by the Romans to evacuate the towns of Thrace, he vented his rage by slaughtering a great number of the inhabitants of the city. The Roman Republic subsequently granted Maroneia to Attalus, King of Pergamon, but almost immediately revoked their gift and declared it a free city.
Maroneia was the largest and most important of all ancient Greek colonies of Western Thrace. The city owed its prosperity to the extensive and rich territory and also to the port which favored the development of intense commercial activity. Furthermore, Romans had granted many privileges to the city, such as the proclamation its freedom and the increase of its territory, where a dense network of rural settlements was developed.
Today's settlement is located on a hillside of mount Ismaros. It was transferred there in the 17th century due to the threat of piracy.
Today the most impressive remain of ancient Maroneia is an amphitheatre. During the Roman Times, this region had been used for battles between wild animals, that is why protective bars have been added around the orchestra. It must have had capacity of 2500 people.References:
The Château d'Olhain is probably the most famous castle of the Artois region. It is located in the middle of a lake which reflects its picturesque towers and curtain walls. It was also a major stronghold for the Artois in medieval times and testimony to the power of the Olhain family, first mentioned from the 12th century.
The existence of the castle was known early in the 13th century, but the present construction is largely the work of Jean de Nielles, who married Marie d’Olhain at the end of the 15th century.
The marriage of Alix Nielles to Jean de Berghes, Grand Veneur de France (master of hounds) to the King, meant the castle passed to this family, who kept it for more than 450 years. Once confiscated by Charles Quint, it suffered during the wars that ravaged the Artois. Besieged in 1641 by the French, it was partly demolished by the Spaniards in 1654, and finally blown-up and taken by the Dutch in 1710. Restored in 1830, it was abandoned after 1870, and sold by the last Prince of Berghes in 1900. There is also evidence that one of the castles occupants was related to Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan, the person Alexandre Dumas based his Three Musketeers charictor d'Artagnan on.
During the World War I and World War II, the castle was requisitioned first by French troops, then Canadian and British soldiers. The current owner has restored the castle to its former glory.