According to Herodotus, the name Samothraki (Samothrace) originates from the ancient Greek word “Samos”, meaning height nearby the shore. Samothraki is famous worldwide for the Winged Victory of Samothrace dating from about 200 B.C., housed in the Louvre. The island was inhabited from the Neolithic period by Pelasgians while extensive settlement took place in the 8th Century B.C. During the 7th century B.C., the Thracians built a series of towns on the facing shore. Thanks to the reputation of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, and the mystical character of their worship, the island became a major Mediterranean religious centre. The Great Gods also known as Kabeiroi were of the Earth and the Underworld, and the cult’s mysteries and religious rituals were closely guarded secrets. The ancient ruins of the Sanctuary at “Paliapoli” (old city) are one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. The Sanctuary’s prospered until the 4th Century A.D. when the island came under Byzantine rule and entered into a steep period of decline. From 1204 and until 1457, the island was ruled by the Venetians and then the Genoan family Gattilusi, who constructed a fortress overlooking the town. The Ottoman Empire took over the island in 1457 and held it until the Balkan Wars of 1912, when Samothraki joined Greece.