Thrace is a historical and a geographical region of the Balkans in southeastern Europe. It borders three seas, the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea and the sea of Marmara (Propontis). It is a cultural crossroad consisting of the local Greeks, the Pontics (Greek survivals from Asia Minor), Muslim Greeks and Pomaks.
During the Byzantine Empire, Thrace was the surrounding as well as the protector of the heart of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople. Thrace was libarated from the Ottoman Empire in 1923 with the same borders as today.
Thrace could be viewed as a huge orchard with its inhabitants investing in the primary production and producing their traditional local products. Thrace's large exports of local products (from fruits to asparagus, mussels, etc.) in combination with the natural beauty and its history, creates unique mosaic of local flavors and cuisine.
Xanthi's old town, a real treasure of the prefecture, located in the north section of the city, was built after 1829, the year when the great earthquakes completely destroyed the previous settlement. It is the most well-known old town in Greece. The worldwide famous composer and creator Manos Hadjidakis was born in the town of Xanthi. The Livaditis Waterfall is located near the village Livaditis in Xanthi. Its waters fall vertically from about 60 meters height, creating a tide that causes a rich vegetation to the cracks of the rocks. During winter the waterfall freezes completely. In the spring when the temperatures start rising, the ice crystals start to melt and to break, releasing a deafening noise from the dropped. The area of the waterfall consists of a rich forest that belongs to the National Park of Rhodope Mountains, where dozens of rare flora species exists.
Xanthi - Cultural events
Throughout the year, the Old Town of Xanthi is the starting point of many important cultural events. Xanthi is famous for its Carnival. It is the biggest carnival in Northern Greece and the second biggest all over Greece. During the parade, about 18,000 carnival goers take part and the visitors who arrive from all parts of Greece, exceed 200,000.
Celebrations are also organized in the old town where here you will taste exquisite delicacies and traditional sourdough bread made and baked by housewives of the region of Abdera. Some of the important annual festivals that take place in the area are Demitrias which takes place during the second fortnight of July in Dafnona, as well as the Nestos River Party every August near the settlement of Galani, in the Straits of Nestos. It is a three-day cultural festival event that combines traditional music and dance with modern entertainment, and it gathers around 16,000 people of all ages.
A particularly unique event to watch is the Thracian wedding that takes place on Shrove Monday, in the villages of Myrodato and Avato. The ceremony is performed ina mystical way just like it used to be done in the old days in Eastern Thrace, where the traditional songs and the various graphic events stand out.
Various gastronomic festivals and events take place in the area, for example the Democritus Festival of Avdira, which highlights the dynamics of the region. It includes a variety of cultural events such as musical performances, football tournaments, beach volley, events at archaeological sites and general cultural activities in different villages of the municipality of Avdira. Lately, the making of the traditional bread by the women of the village, the "bread of Gaia" has also been included in the festivities. The bread is fermented and kneaded in the traditional way with the wooden "Pinakoti" and baked in the old village stone ovens. Another event is "The Sardine Festival" in Porto Lagos. A large folk feast is organised with plenty of fish, wine and live music. Crowds of people gather for the event from surrounding areas, especially seafood lovers. The numerous events that take place throughout the year will satisfy every visitor.
A city of legends as well as a gateway to an imperial narrative reality, Komotini is a kaleidoscope of incredible beauty.
Komotini and the entire territory of Rodopi is a dream place, completely different from Southern Greece.
Komotini, the capital of Thrace, is a mosaic of the imperial Greece. The city itself is different, beautiful, with an oriental note that everyone must experience at least once. The city has unique buildings and monuments such as the Byzantine wall, the Clock Tower, the Imaret and many more. Other than beautiful things to see, it also has one of the most interesting and authentic cuisines. The gastronomy of Komotini has one of the most interesting and authentic cuisines and offers exactly what one expects; rich Middle Eastern flavours, oriental sweets, and a general taste of the local culture that passes your palate.
You will get the feeling that you are somewhere in the Middle East even though you are very close to Thessaloniki.
All the villages in the area of Rodopi around Komotini are still very authentic. The area has beautiful green valleys, gorges and walking routes that are ideal for alternative tourism. One can describe it as one of the small paradises on earth. The unique rivers, such as river Kompsatos, that create waterfalls and small lakes along their flow, as well as the protected wild horse breeds such as those of Astraia in the Forest of Nymfaia are all part of it. From the distance one can view the three rivers that flow across Komotini towards the Lake Mitrikos including Lake Vistonida with the small island in the center, while in the horizon, are the islands of Thassos and Samothrace as well as Mount Athos.
Only 6 kilometers from the town of Komotini, is one of the most important Macedonian tombs as well as many antiquities from the Hellenistic period. The visitors can enjoy a visit to the Maronia archaeological site. The ancient theater, amazing mosaics, the sanctuary of Dionysus and all the treasures that were brought to light by the excavations, indicate an area of a great wealth and importance.
The Kavala Old Town is built around the 18th century. The district of Panagia, directly above the port, is by far the most beautiful. Among the buildings of the Old City, the Imaret stands out as a classic example of Islamic architecture of 1820. The Castle and the walls of the Medieval aqueduct that reach 280 meters in length and consist of 60 arches is one of the most characteristic images of Kavala as you go in Panagia district.
A special reference must be made of the ancient city of Philippi, named after the father of Alexander the Great. The excavations brought to light are ruins from the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine and the Early Christian period. Some of these monuments are the Octagon, the Roman market, the Royal churches, the Ancient Theater of Philippi.
The Kavala Archaeological Museum has exhibits from the Neolithic period and the Bronze Age. They were found from excavations in Naples, Amphipolis, the necropolis of Abdera and various other locations of North Greece.
To enjoy fresh fish, you can visit any of the seafood taverns around the port area. For meat mezze lovers, we suggest the various taverns in the narrow streets of the city center.
Alexandroupolis’ strategic position connects Europe and Asia and the East to the West. This beautiful seaside city, with its Lighthouse imposing at the harbor, is the center of a fascinating region.
The town was given the name “Alexandroupolis” in the honour of Alexander the Great, who once had crossed the city while leading Greek troops to Andrianoupolis.
An experience not to be missed is the “fish auction” in the local fish market when the fishing boats arrive loaded with fish. Aside a stroll along the waterfront, take time to visit the famous Evro Delta ecosystem. Evros is not just another river. Not only is it the natural border between Greece and Turkey or Greece and Bulgaria, but it also determined human purpose ever since the antiquities. Back then, it was considered as the largest river in the world, although in reality, it is only the largest river in length in the Balkan Peninsula.
Approximaltey 30 kilometers before its estuary, Evros river splits into two, forming a huge long triangle. The great value of the Evros Delta lies in its rich bird fauna. Out of the 420 bird species that exist in Greece, approximately 316 bird species have been observed at the Evros Delta. According to European data, this is a rare phenomenon. The Evros Delta ecosystem works not only as a nesting habitat but also as a shelter for the large populations of migratory waterfowl from the northern regions of Central and Eastern Europe.
The passage of centuries in the region of Thrace is recorded around the ruins of the archaeological site of Ancient Ismara. Travelers seeking authentic experiences can visit the cave-church of Agios Theodoros, the village itself, the mines as well as the famous Villa of Kirki.
When you are in Alexandroupolis take time to visit the Ethnological Museum of Thrace. The Museum is housed in a stone neoclassical 1899 building and it exhibits the traditional lifestyle through various thematic sections. They include the traditional local costumes, a presentation of the local customs and religious traditions, the old traditional diet, the traditional sugar crops, the sesame mill facilities and also the dyeing facilities.