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.

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Founded: 6th century BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in Greece

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