Thrace in Northern Greece Offers a Unique Experience
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If you’re looking for a unique Greece experience and something off the beaten track, consider visiting the striking and mysterious region of Thrace in Northern Greece. Thrace has been relatively untouched (and unspoiled) by tourism, although it is a growing industry. The region is shared with Bulgaria and Turkey.
Important towns in Thrace include:
This university town is where you’ll find the former mansions of tobacco barons. Tobacco is still an important agricultural exploit. A Folk Museum is located within the former residences of the tobacco millionaires, the Kougioumtzoglu brothers. An open market is held every Saturday where you can find clothes, jewelry, fruits, and vegetables. The Xanthi Winter Carnival is famous throughout Greece. This pre-Lenten celebration features music and colorful floats. North of Xanthi is the Rhodopi Mountains which form a border with Bulgaria. The Pomak villages in the area feature the hot mineral baths of Thermes and places to go for a hike.
Located approximately 30 miles east of Xanthi is Komotini, the Rhodopi prefecture’s provincial capital and central Thrace’s largest town. Its large university population is mostly comprised of students from all over Greece. An Archaeological Museum features Thracian archaeological finds and an Ecclesiastic Museum features post-Byzantine icons, silver ceremonial crosses, gold embroidery, and 18th century Hebrew scrolls.
Alexandroupoli is Eastern Thrace’s largest, and most appealing, town. The Ecclesiastical Museum of Thrace displays Thracian traditional customs. Each room is devoted to a specific topic including, but not limited to, traditional costumes, musical instruments, and oil presses. If you’re looking for a beach, head a few miles west of Alexandroupoli where you’ll find Demirali Beach, a pleasant sandy beach with clear waters. Twelve miles southeast of Alexandroupoli is the Evros Delta, one of Europe’s most important wetlands that features more than 300 bird varieties including several endangered species. An ideal spot for bird watchers, the visitor center arranges bird watching trips.
Didymotiho is a military outpost that is worthy of a day trip. Here you will find significant historical ruins.
Orestiada is Thrace’s second largest town after Alexandroupoli. It offers plenty of shopping, social activities, and services. The Folk Museum holds traditional Thracian furnishings and costumes, weaponry, and a fragment from the original Lausanne Treaty which stipulated the Greek-Turkish population exchange. The Cataract Water Park is a fun place for families to visit and keep cool during the hot summer months. About 12 miles north of Orestiada, near Kastanies, the Ardas River Festival is held in July. It features music from top Greek, Turkish, and Bulgarian singers and DJs along with beach volleyball and theatrical performances.
This post was written by Greek Boston