Thrace – Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (full name) is the northeastern part of Greece ending at Alexandroupolis on the south and Orestiada almost to the north. This is the part connecting Europe with Asia and the Aegean Sea with the Black Sea. Life shows its existence since 3000 BC here. The name of this part according to the legend comes from “Thrace” the daughter of Oceanus, sister of Europe, Asia, and Libya, or from the Greek word “trahia” which means a rough area because of the climate and the environment.
This is the place where since the ancient years as it is said many religious ideas and ceremonies (Orfika, Dionisia, and Kaviria) came from.
The area of Thrace consists of three prefectures, Evros on the east, Rodopi in the center and Xanthi on the west. Excavations at the area have brought up samples of life starting from the Palaeolithic Age near the rivers Evros and Ardas. Close to the end of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Iron Age Thracian races start spreading in Trace continuing the prehistoric tradition. Settlements of that age have been found both on naturally protected hills known as “Thracian Citadels” and flat locations.
When Thrace was part of the Roman Empire the Romans promoted and strengthened the local Greek character. Via Egnatia was constructed remains of which can be found in numerous places along the main route to Constantinople. During the Byzantine Era, the area is close to the capital city Constantinople and once more many monuments bear witness to its prosperity: Didimotiho, with its castle and 23 towers, the fortress of Ioannis Katakouzinos in Pythio and the cavern of Agios Theodoros in Alexandroupolis transformed into a temple wall painted in two phases. Since the 18th century, the Greek element of the area has flourished both economically and intellectually. Traces of this peak can be found in Soufli, the land of silk, Metaxades, and Didimotiho.
Today Thrace has to offer a lot to a visitor. The town of Xanthi the first to visit leaving the prefecture of Kavala, where the University of Thrace is based, the town of Komotini capital of Rodopi prefecture, built around a pre Byzantine fortress of the 4th century BC and Alexandroupolis the capital of Evros prefecture, from where one can easily visit the island of Samothraki and the Evros Delta, known for the ecosystem with international importance according to the Ramsar Convention. Delta’s geographical position and climate contributed to creating a vital place of hospitality for a great variety of animals. Lakes, lacy coasts, peninsulas and many branches of Evros River form a unique environment suitable for the survival of rare species of fauna and types of flora all over Europe.
Cultural tourism (archaeological museums of Drama, Philippi, Kavala, Port of Thassos, Abdaron, Komotini, archaeological sites of Philippi, Avdira, Maroneia, Doxipara, Samothrace, Agia Varvara Drama, Imaret Kavala).
Religious tourism (Monastery of Agios Apostolos Silas Monastery, Agia Lydia Monastery, Monasteries of Panagia Archangeliotissa, Panagia Kalamou, Taxiarchon and Agios Nikolaos Porto Lagos, Byzantine Mount Papikion, to the border of the Dadia Monastery and the Cosmos).
Conference and exhibition tourism (Lydia Conference Center, N. Karvalis Exhibition Center, Komotini Exhibition Center, Thracian Art & Tradition Foundation, and hotels in each city have the infrastructure for hosting events).
Ecotourism (Forests of Elati, Frakto, mountainous Rodopi, Delta of Nestos and Evros rivers, Pomakochoria, beautiful shores of the Thracian Sea, imposing mountains and forests, Maara caverns and rocks of Petrousa in Drama, Vistonida, Mitroikos, Ismarida, biotope of exceptional beauty and unique ecosystems with impressive landscapes).
Therapeutic – thermal tourism (Lasopotouras Krinidon, Thermal and Thermal Baths of Xanthi, Samothraki, Traianoupoli).
Agrotourism (in recent years remarkable agrotourist accommodation has been created in all prefectures).
It has a border on the northwest with Bulgaria, with Turkey on the east, the county of Rothopi on the west and the Thracian sea lies to the south.
This county is the gateway to the East, both for Greece and the European Union as it is on the border with Turkey.
The river Evros winds its way peacefully through the county of the same name, on its way to the Aegean sea where the Evros Delta has been forged. The aquatic habitat and ecosystem here are indeed a rare sight and are amongst the most significant of their kind in the whole of Europe.
More than 200,000 waterfowl spend the winter on the huge expanses of the Delta. Many of the 300 or so species found here are threatened with extinction.
As well as the Delta, the Dadia forest is also a haven for wildlife and rare birds of prey safely nest there, under the protection of the authorities.
The beaches of the county, with their blue flags, from Mesemvria to Alexandroupolis, also deserve a mention and are very popular with holidaymakers.
This county lies on the Aegean sea to the south, borders Bulgaria on the north, the county of Evros on the east and Evros on the west.
This is a beautiful yet quiet area, which attracts few visitors in comparison with the rest of the north of Greece. As a result, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the area and visit its picturesque villages at a leisurely pace, unharried by the hustle and bustle that well-developed tourism has brought to other areas.
This county offers forests, small ravines and the lively streams that flow from within, endless green plains, spectacular beaches, and ancient sites.
This is the land of Orpheus and Dionysos and is most hospitable, offering every visitor a warm welcome.
The counties of Drama and Kavala border Xanthi on the west, Bulgaria on the north, Rothopi on the east and the Aegean sea lies to the south.
The history of this county is interesting, as is the presence of a large Muslim population that coexists peacefully with the Greek element of the population.
Nature lovers will appreciate the Rothopi mountain range and the deserted villages and stone paths that lie therein, as well as arched bridges, water pumps and whatever else the roots and earth of the thick forests haven’t covered up.
One can visit Pokamohoria, which are villages dotted all over the Ehinou valley. These villages are examples of a unique cultural and architectural style which can be found nowhere else in Greece.
The natural landscape in this county is a paradise with its rare species of flowers, birds and a wonderfully balanced ecosystem.
This county also offers spectacular beaches and important historical monuments.
How to get there
Kavala is a major port. it is possible to reach it by ferry from Lemnos, and several other North Aegean islands.
There are direct flights to many European countries, especially in summer and daily flights to Athens. Except with Taxis, the airport(“Alexander the Great” airport) is hard to reach by public transport. Car rental at the airport is available.
By regional coach
Interurban coaches “KTEL” buses are by far the most convenient way to travel around Greece, as well as for intra-regional travelling. Intercity buses drive to all major cities in Greece.
The timetable for busses to Ioannina is 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm.
Thessaloniki – Kavala > 152 km
Thessaloniki – Xanthi > 205 km
Thessaloniki – Alexandroupolis > 301 km
Kavala – Athens > 651 km
Alexandroupolis – Bucharest > 528 km
Drama – Skopje > 365 km
Komotini – Sofia > 320 km
Alexandroupolis – Athens > 800 km
Kavala – Constantinopole > 443 km
Xanthi – Belgrade > 823 km