Festive trip to Xanthi, a crossroads of cultures


Built at the foot of the Rhodope mountain range, Xanthi is one of the most interesting cities in Thrace - a mix of East, West and Balkans, a culture that intrigues and fascinates.

Xanthi consists of the New and the Old Town, but of course, the latter is the most interesting, as Travel points out. The Old Town bears witness to the city's history over the years, and with a walk through the narrow cobbled streets, which are decorated with the shacks of traditional houses, the small flower-filled courtyards, the restored mansions and the neoclassical buildings.

A simple stroll will allow you to get a small taste of the Thracian city's past. The city has even been declared a traditional settlement since 1976.

So Xanthi, now during the Christmas holidays, dresses up with lights and all kinds of decorations and celebrates it with full soul, taking care of the entertainment of young and old. The city has therefore created, for some years now, "Euchoupolis," a theme park in its heart, in Democracy Square, right next to the Old Town.

The holiday activities

In "Euchoupolis", the children can participate in the "Elves Workshops," where they will be painted, with face painting, in the colours of Christmas and will learn to make constructions with balloons; they will visit the "Santa's House" where they will be photographed together, while they will also be able to "ride" his sled.

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On Saturday, 23/12, a concert will take place with Christmas melodies from the "Mousades" Music School, while on the eve, Sunday, 24/12, the Philharmonic of the Municipality of Xanthi will take to the streets singing carols, spreading joy everywhere.

At the same time in Democracy Square, there will be a concert from the "Music Workshop" of Angelos Mourvatis with favourite songs.

Accordingly, the city streets will be filled with beautiful melodies from the Municipal Philharmonic on New Year's Eve morning, which will play New Year's carols this time. In the evening, be at Democracy Square for the change of the year in a super festive atmosphere where you will welcome the new year with a warm wine in hand, lots and lots of fireworks and loud music.

The sights

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Xanthi has several noteworthy places to see during your stay. In fact, as long as you are walking in the Old Town, you can see some of the most important sites, such as the "Old Town Hall" of 1880, in eclectic architecture at the junction of Dimarchos Filippou Amoirides and Mavromichalis streets, which was the mansion of a Xanthi tobacco merchant.

It is also worth visiting the "Folklore and Historical Museum of Xanthi", which is housed in an excellent architectural building from 1830, which you will find a few metres behind the Old Town Hall at Antika Street 7.

It is housed in the "Kougioumtzoglou Mansion" part of the museum exhibition. Built-in 1860 by a family of the same name, it is a historical testimony to the social and economic life of the city that flourished in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th.

It is a double residence where each one had its own independent entrance, while in the back yard, it had two small, independent hammams in a traditional oriental form; its interior is now filled with wood-carved ceilings, frescoes and ceiling paintings.

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It also hosts objects of daily use, clothing, agricultural and non-agricultural tools, textiles, jewellery, traditional Thracian-Sarakatsani-Pontian costumes, etc. The "Municipal Art Gallery" is also very close by, if you have time and you like art, pass its threshold paying attention not only to the exhibits but also to the building itself, as it is housed in a folk Macedonian house, one of the oldest buildings in Xanthi.

Stroll also in the picturesque Samakov district, the working class neighbourhood of the old city, on the eastern side of the Kosynthos River.

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Also, take a walk on El. Venizelou 17, to see the house where Manos Hadjidakis was born, a beautiful 18th-century building just two steps from Democracy Square. A little further back, at the Greek High School of Xanthi, you will also find a small "Traditional Dress" museum.

Apart from the Old Town now, the area of ​​the Tobacco Warehouses is of particular interest, a representative sample of the industrial architecture not only of Xanthi at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century but also of Greece, as well as the Byzantine castle of "Xanthia". It dates from the 12th AD. Century and today, many parts of the walls, towers, arches and vaulted cisterns are preserved.

The cuisine

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The cuisine of Xanthi is multicultural; apart from the Greeks, it has been influenced by Muslims, Pomaks, Roma, Armenians, Pontians and Cappadocians, which is why it is particularly rich, interesting and very tasty. Whatever kind of kebab you want you will find here; you will also find lamb with noodles, lots of legumes, crab, soutzoukakia, pork with pickled cabbage, sausages, chickpeas with pumpkin and vegetables, and pies such as the pastourmadopita and the green meat pie which they even make for the New Year's table.

As for sweets, you should definitely try her syrupy baklava, ekmek, saraglakia, kadaifi, as well as kazan dipi with burnt sheep's milk, and kounoufe.

The excursions

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The must excursion in the area is in the narrows of Nestos, in the village of Toxotes, about 14 kilometres from Xanthi. Just above the town, the river creates a beautiful meander, making small turns in a lush nature.

The area is also suitable for alternative tourism and activities. Depending on the season, you can go hiking by the river and on the mountainside by seeing Nestos from above, canoeing, climbing, mountaineering, archery and cycling.

Another very interesting excursion is Lake Vistonida, which is approximately 20 kilometres away. Vistonida is the fourth largest lake in Greece, and it is located just a breath away from the sea.

If you like birdwatching, note that over 200 different species of birds find refuge here, such as the grebe, one of the rarest bird species in the world, the mallard, the sea eagle, the harrier, the cormorant, the grey heron, the avocet, and many, many more.

Twenty minutes away is Abdira, where you can visit the "Archaeological Museum of Abdira" which includes an interesting exhibition with objects found in the ancient city and its cemeteries, which cover the period from the 7th c., e.g. when the city was founded until the 12th c. A.D.

The exhibition is divided into three thematic sections: public life, private life and burial customs. At 6 kilometres on the beach is the archaeological site of Abdira.

For accommodation

Z Palace & Congress Centre: neat rooms in a classic but light aesthetic

Address: G. Kondyli, Tel: 2541064414, facebook.com

Paris Hotel: simple hotel with well-kept rooms

Address : 12 Dimokritou, Tel : 2541020531, hotelparis.gr

Le Chalet: outside the city, with a beautiful garden and comfortable rooms in a more country style

Address: Kimmeria, Tel: 2541068511, facebook.com

For food

La Terra is an all-day restaurant with a modern aesthetic and comfortable atmosphere. The menu features burgers, risotto, pizzas and other delicacies.

Address: Michael Karaoli & Elpidos, Tel: 2541074250

Palea Polis: very neat interior and a meat-based menu with cooked and grilled dishes of the hour

Address: 7 Evripides Hasirtzoglou, Tel: 2541068685, facebook.com

Kookoovaya Urban Gastronomy: an old two-story mansion that has been transformed into an atmospheric all-day cafe with a menu that includes pizzas, burgers, tagliatelle, pasta, etc.

Address: Maletsidou 2, Tel: 2541021223, facebook.com

READ MORE: Marathos Village – Agrafa’s Best Kept Secret.


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