8th stop: Didymoteicho
Didymóteicho is a town located in the eastern part of the Evros regional unit of Thrace, Greece. It is the seat of the municipality of the same name. The town has a population of almost 9,000 inhabitants, sits on a plain and is located south of Orestiada, about 20 km north of Soufli and about 90 km north of Alexandroupoli. The municipality of Didymóteicho has a population of around 23,000 inhabitants.
Coordinates: 41°10′N 26°05′E (1) Alexandroupoli (2) Didymoteicho (3) Orestiada (4) Samothrace (5) Soufli
Forests dominate the banks and parts of the plain. Much of the area is used for farming. The main produce is cattle, fruits and vegetables and some flowers. The hills dominate further west. Near the area lies the great forest of Dadia. Didymoteicho is located around 12 km from Turkey and the western banks of the Evros. It is the easternmost municipality on the mainland of Greece (in its town of Pythio). In the west, much of the land is mountainous and forested, while farmlands are located in the central and the northern part. It is on the railway line Thessaloniki-Istanbul and the Greek road 51 (Alexandroupoli – Orestiada – Edirne in Turkey and Svilengrad in Bulgaria).
The area around the town was founded at neolithic times. It was an important Thracian and Hellenistic town. The town was sacked by the Romans in 204 BC. In the early 2nd century, the Roman emperor Trajan created a new city between the two hills surrounding the town and named it Plotinopolis after his wife Pompeia Plotina. The city would later be one of the most important towns in Thrace, having her own assembly. Its remains are now known as the Kale, after the Turkish word for “castle”. In the 1980s, a solid gold bust of Trajan was found on the site of Plotinopoulis and is now in the museum in Komotini.
In medieval times, known as Demotika, it was an important market town and one of the finest hunting places for emperors and later sultans. It was well fortified by the Byzantines and after their reconquest of Constantinople in 1261, it became the most important city in Thrace and Byzantine Macedonia.
The Battle of Demotika, the Ottomans’ first victory in Europe, was fought before the city in 1352 during yet another Byzantine civil war. In 1361, and after several years of siege, the Ottomans succeeded in conquering the city. Unlike the neighbouring Adrianople which was burnt to the ground, they kept the town intact and made it the capital of the Ottoman Empire for a short time. It was then that they build the great mosque and the baths of the town, both of which were the first of their kind in the European continent.
In 1912 the town was briefly occupied by the Bulgarians during the First Balkan War, only to return to the Ottomans a year later. The latter offered the city to Bulgaria in 1914, as a reward for entering World War I on the side of the Central Powers. The town was withdrawn from Bulgaria under the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Neuilly. As other places in Western Thrace Didymoteicho was under temporary management of the Entente led by the French General Sharpe. In the second half of April 1920, at the San Remo conference of the prime ministers of the main allies of the Entente powers (except USA), Western Thrace was given to Greece. The Second World War devastated Didymoteicho.
Among the sights in Didymoteicho you’ll find the castle (Plotinopolis or Kale), the Bayezid Mosque, the Church of Panagia Eleftherotria and the Folklore Museum.
The Pythian Castle is one of the most important and best preserved works of military architecture in Greece. It dominates on a low hill, on the northeastern end of the village Pythio, just 15 km from Didimotiho.
In the main square of Didymoteicho you will find a fountain to rest by; here you’ll have the opportunity to chat with the locals. Here is a cafe by the name Byzantio and it is also the spot where you’ll find taxis, banks, bakeries and other shops.
Didymoteicho – Hellenic Ministry of Culture
Evros: Info Guide
including information about the sights of Evros, the Mountain Route-Ardas, museums and thermal spas, etc.