Xanthi is a city in Thrace in the northeastern Greece. It is the capital of the Xanthi regional unit of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace.
Walking in the streets of Xanthi
According to known references Xanthi dates back to 879 AD. It began as a small village and it has experienced all the tumultuous periods of the history of Thrace, such as raids, disasters, ethnic conflicts, civil wars. The population of the region of Xanthi had dwindled down to almost nothing and almost everything had been destroyed when the Ottomans conquered the region in 1361. For this reason, the Ottomans brought settlers from the depths of Asia Minor, which is how Genisea was created, while Oraio and Xanthi remained mainly Greek and Christian centres.Different views of the old tobacco warehouse and tobacco leaves left for drying in the sun
By the 18th century Xanthi became renowned for its tobacco quality. The growing tobacco market throughout Europe led Xanthi into prosperity.
The city was literally leveled by two earthquakes in March and April 1829; this however played a decisive role in the further developments. The city’s re-building immediately got underway. In 1870, the city of Genisea was burned down and thus all of the agencies and services were transferred to Xanthi which, at that time, had a population of about 10,000 inhabitants. In 1891, the railroad line was established near the city, while further economic development led to the founding of schools and associations.
Today Xanthi is a modern city, rich in history, traditions and customs, and with many attractions for the visitors (including the region as a whole). It is worth visiting the city during the Carnival (February / March) and during the Old Town Festival (beginning of September). Also, one should not miss the Xanthi Bazaar every Saturday. Xanthi is known as “The city of the thousand colours”.The old clock tower of Xanthi (above, left) and gorgeous examples of the traditional architecture in the Old Town of Xanthi
The Old City of Xanthi will give you the opportunity to have a close look at the beautiful old houses built according to the traditional architecture used mainly in the mountainous areas in Greece, with the characteristic oversized upper floor with wooden props supporting the construction. In the old days they used to keep the livestock on groundfloor level, while using the first floor for living.
Villages in the region of Xanthi
Rivers in the region of Xanthi
The river Kompsatos has a total length of 68 km and stems from the Rhodope mountains and ends at the lake of Vistonida. The river area is an important habitat for birds (around 130 bird species have been observed, some of which are endangered).
Visits in the river valley Kompsatos can be done by following the circular hiking route Kottani – Koundouros – Tsalapetinos – Kalotychos – Lykotopos – Kottani, a 10 hours route of about 25 km.
At the Thracian plain, where the river leaves the Rhodope Mountains, lies the post-Byzantine stone arched bridge, built in the 17th-18th century by craftsmen from Epirus. The main arch has a span 21.80 meters and a height of 12 feet, while the eastern arch has a span of 17 meters.
Porto Lagos and Vistonida Lake
The Saint Nicholas Monastery of Porto Lagos is situated on two tiny islands in the big lake of Vistonidas. The small monastery belongs to the Vatopediou monastery of the Holy Mount Athos (in Halkidiki), but in contrast to the Vatopedio, this one is open for all visitors, female as well as male.
Vistonidas lake – actually three saltwater lagoons interconnected – is worth visiting, as you’ll find an amazing bird life here.
At the lake one can observe huge flocks of geese, ducks, swans and pelicans, as well as many other bird species. Perfect spot for birdwatching.
Thermes Loutra (thermal baths)
The thermal baths are located about 40 km from Xanthi. In the small town Thermes of the famous thermal baths warm waters are spurting everywhere. In the central square we find four community spa tubs and a water basin in a room with a dome. In 1998 individual baths and showers were added. The water temperature in the baths range from 40-53 °C.
The baths are suggested for those suffering from arthritis, skin diseases and chronic gastritis. The hostels at the thermal baths have recently been refurbished to ensure a comfortable stay. There are 29 double rooms equipped with refrigerator and TV. In the area there are 4 Turkish baths for individual use or for groups (5-10 people). During the summer months the attendance at the thermal baths is great. For this reason it is necessary to book rooms in advance.