The City of Xanthi
History of Xanthi
Xanthi is a modern city, rich in history, traditions and customs with many sightseeing attractions for visitors. It is one of the three cities of the region of Thrace in the northern part of Greece. It is the capital of the homonymous regional unity and a municipality with a population of 57.873 inhabitants according to the census of 2011. It is built on the outskirts of Achladovouno and attached administratively to the East part of Macedonia and Thrace.
For the name of the town there are two aspects: The first that Xanthi was named after one of the daughters of Oceanus and Tethys, and the second that comes from an Amazonian who had the name ‘Xanthi’ and conquered the region.
Crossed by the River Nestos and the Kosynthos and adorned by the blue waters of the lagoon Vistonida. Aside from these natural attractions, the area has a rich history that is reflected in the ancient and traditional settlements.
Xanthi is famous for its excellent produce; tobacco, which made her rich. Despite the earthquake that destroyed much of the city, Xanthi has a large number of warehouses that currently accommodate considerable administrative services, while others are used as museums and cultural centers.
Xanthi Old Town Festival
The celebrations of the Old Xanthi have become an institution of the past 24 years. The Old Town events promote and display the history, culture, traditions and customs of the inhabitants of the region of Thrace bringing us memories of other past seasons.
The Old Town events take place during the first days of September, and of course the area which they take place is the Old City of Xanthi with its cobbled streets and impressive mansions. During the event there is full of rhythm, singing and of course the smell "Egret" of the dishes hovers over the entire Xanthi. During the period of the holidays of the Old Xanthi there are also daily concerts with renowned artists and many other cultural events.
The institution with the longest life in the city of Xanthi is Xanthi’s Carnival that started in 1966 and has traversed a course of 50 years. The Carnival of Xanthi are among the most famous in Greece and the Balkans and boasts a series of events around music, dance and theater, art exhibitions or other contents, lectures, book presentations and film screenings. During these two weeks of the carnival events in the city of Xanthi there are flocking great artists for concerts. In recent years it has become well known in the Balkans.
The institution closes with the carnival parade and the custom of burning the effigy of Tzara.
Ancient City of Avdira
The ancient city of Avdira used to be one of the most important cities of the northern Aegean Sea. It was founded sometime in the 7th century B.C. References suggest that Avdira was the birthplace of philosopher Democritus, sophist Protagoras, Lefkippos and Ekateos. The archeological site of Avdira, located at the head land of Bouloustra, includes the northern and southern compound, the ancient citadel and the graveyards which are all dated at the Archaic, Classic and Hellenistic eras.
The visitor can also see houses from the Roman time; the ruins of a luxury bath house from the same era and the cemetery church from the Christian times. Ancient relics, found in the city and the graveyard are displayed at the Archeological Museum of Avdira.
Porto Lagos – Vistonida Lake
Porto Lagos is located in the boundaries between the counties of Xanthi and Rodopi and specifically at the point where Vistonida Lake is united with the Thracian Sea.
Vistonida Lake is also the 4th largest lake in Greece, the total size of which is estimated to be around 45000 acres. Its maximum length is 12,5 kilometers and its maximum amplitude 7 kilometers with an average depth at 4 meters. It is one of the biggest wetland habitats that can be found globally and it is being protected by the Ramsar Convention. It is the home for many rare species of birds that attracts lots of tourists whose hobby is their observation. That is the reason why the Delta of Nestos River and Vistonida Lake are included in the areas of special protection of E.U.’s avifauna and the Natura Network 2000.
Strolling in the streets of Old Town of Xanthi
There is nothing more magical and better than taking a walk within the narrow streets of Xanthi’s Old Town! Paved alleys and majestic mansions will transfer you back in time. You can also see the renowned Macedonian styled art gallery and the whimsical House of Shadow. You can also find beautiful taverns and bars along your way in these gorgeous streets. All of the above generate the nostalgic sensation that you have moved to the past.
In the wider area of Xanthi you can find lots of nice and filled with natural beauty pathways ready to be walked so that you can meet the spectacular natural beauty of Xanthi. A well known example of such route is located at the outer boundary of Xanthi’s Old Town and it is named as “Pathway of Life” (‘monopati tis zois’ in Greek)
Monasteries of Xanthi
Xanthi has some of Greece’s most beautiful monasteries.
The monastery of Saint Nikolaos (Monastiri Agiou Nikolaou in greek) which belongs to Agion Oros. The Vatopedi Monastery is built on a small spot of dry land in the middle of the lake while it is connected to the rest of the land with a steady wooden bridge. It has a small guestroom as well.
- Panagias Kalamous Monastery, north Of Xanthi, on the cliff right above Kosinthos River.( Monastiri Panagias Kalamous in Greek)
- Panagias Archaggeliotisas Monastery placed at the north east side of Xanthi, at the edge of Rodopi’s mountain mass and right above Old Town’s Samakov neighborhood.
- Taxiarhon Monastery is at the north-south region of Xanthi right bellow the byzantine citadel of the city and within a forest full of pines and acacias.
- The church of Saint George of Drimia (Ekklisia tou Agiou Georgiou tis Drimias in Greek) is located at 55 kilometers of the North West side of the city to Parenesti. Inside the church Saint’s George’s remains rest and his relic too. Saint George is said to be “Thavmatourgos”, meaning that he has created many miracles.
Nestos belongs to the five biggest rivers of Greece with its course setting the boundaries between the counties of Macedonia and Thrace as well as Kavala’s and Xanthi’ s running through Drama county first. Its total course covers 243 kilometers, 130 of which are located in the Greek territory.
There you will find exceptional fauna and flora with tons of animal species. The observation will satisfy even the most sophisticated observers. You can also take part in a variety of activities such as;
- Alternative Sports