Traveler's Guide

East Macedonia & Thrace

Route in Xanthi: Xanthi – Stavroupoli – Macedonian Komninon Tomb – Kaliva Castle

Take the Xanthi – Drama National Road, going over exquisitestone bridges, passing through picturesque Stavroupoli (after29km), steeped in nature and crossed by the River Nestos.Kaliva Fortress is 45km (allow approximately 1 hour). To visitthe Macedonian Tomb and Kaliva Fortress, you must contact theAbdera Archaeological Museum before setting out.StavroupoliVisit the old railway station (1924) in Stavroupoli, one of the mostbeautiful traditional villagesin Xanthi with carefullycrafted cobbled streets, picturesquecafes and beautifulhouses. This was thefirst station to operate inThrace on the Thessaloniki– Alexandroupoli line.Stavroupoli FolkloreMuseumStavros Karabatzakis, anobsessive collector, accumulatedvarious objects,which had been rendereduseless by the rapid growth of industry and technology, over theyears at the traditional village café. He donated the collectionto Stavroupoli Municipality and the collection can be viewed inthe old Tobacco Tax Building. The history of farmers and semi-urban populations of Thrace can be gleaned from the well laidout exhibits: weapons, farming equipment, household utensils,clay and copper urns, animal bells, woven material, photographs,documents and musical instruments. Acetylene lamps, stormlanterns, oil lamps and small lanterns nostalgically illuminate thememories of some visitors.NestosWater which carves a path between rocks, tongues of earth protrudinginto the river and forming fjords: a divine harmony full ofcolour and scents. The Straits, or ‘Tempe’ of the river (15km fromthe town) between Toxotes Village and Stavroupoli, form uniquemeandering paths, taking part in the 5 million year old game ofwater and earth.Board the OSE train which departs at Toxotes Village in thedirection of Stavroupoli using the same track as the legendaryOrient Express. It goes through the riverside Aesthetic Forest, theEuropean IBA area (Important Bird Area), poplars, willows, elms,sycamores and wild roses, offering the best view of the meanderingwaters of the River Nestos (Duration: 30 mins).Orpheus lived with Eurydice in the midst of this beauty. It washere that he wrote the Orphics and Lithika, the famous tractsfor Theodamanta on the exceptional strength of stone. Theyworshiped Dionysos-Zagrea here, the Orphic version of Dionysos,with mysterious ceremonies. Archaeological finds from the surroundingare of Komnina belonged to this cult.The Macedonian tomb is 5km from Stavroupoli, just beforeKomnina.The Stavroupoli-KomninaMacedonian TombThe tomb of Stavroupoli – Komnina, the best preserved Macedoniantomb in Thrace, is impressive for its size and walls of localmarble. It is likely that it belonged to the 2nd century BC and isprobably linked to the neighbouring settlement of Mytikas (500mfurther south) which was inhabited from the Iron Age until ByzantineTimes.Kalyvas FortressThe fortress at the top of the verdant mound of Kales (Kastro), atan altitude of 627m, 4km SE of the abandoned village of Kalyvas,looks over a large part of the Nestos Valley and has visual contactwith other fortresses in the riverside (Paranestia) area. It wasbuilt by Philippos II of Macedonia around 340 BC on the site ofa Thracian establishment from the Early Iron Age (9th-8th centuryBC) and was used until 6th century AD.Its surrounding fence is shaped like an irregular trapezoid with aperimeter of 245m and maximum preserved height of 3.5m. Themain entrance is the so called “Gate of Priapos” – a name whichderives from the apotropaic relief found nearby which adorned thestone wedges of the lintel arch. The reservoir was a great technicalachievement of ancient engineering and plumbing.Stavroupoli - LeivaditisAfter Stavroupoli, continue along Xanthi-Drama National Highwaytowards Drama. After 6.5km, turnright towards Kariofito and Leivaditi whichis 22.5km from Stavroupoli (duration: 30mins). 10km from Leivaditi is the Forest villageof Erymanthos with its landscaped recreationalareas and accommodation. You canwalk along specially formed paths with signpostsuntil you reach the imposing Leivaditiwaterfall or Trahonios waterfall. At 40m, it isthe highest in the Balkans.In Leivaditi, apart from the Forest Village,visitors can rest at the mountaineering refuges and NaturalistCultural Association of Xanthi when climbing, hiking, traversing 4x 4 trails or mountain biking.Thracian Folk Celebrations – Xanthi CarnivalModern Xanthi is known in Greece for the celebrations it organizes,like the internationally known Xanthi Carnival, and part of the“Thracian Folklore Celebrations”, a legal but traditional manifestationof overturning the daily routine, a libation to the joy of life andthe great Thracian tradition of Dionysos.Since 1991, Thracian Folk Celebrations have initiated and preservedthe traditional spirit among young people through eventsand celebrations. Thracian Folk Celebrations climax on the lastSunday of Carnival with a particularly beautiful large parade offloats and carnival goers. The day ends with the burning of theeffigy of Jarou.The custom of The Camel or JiamalasAnother custom which has survived and is celebrated inStavroupoli, Xanthi, during Carnival is called The Camel orJiamalas. Young people make an effigy of a camel using rags andleather and take it from door to door while dancing to the soundsof a flute or tabor. Householders treat the camel to delicacies andmoney but if it gets away from the camel driver, they beat it. Thisritual symbolizes man’s journey through life with his misfortunesand happy moments.“Celebrations in the Old Town”With the old town of Xanthi’s past as a backdrop, past and futurecoexist in an atmosphere of happiness. In the picturesque streets,there is always an organisation offering delicacies and local“nectar”. Music fills the air… At the point where summer turnsinto autumn, old Xanthi becomes the centre of cultural interestfor 2 weeks. Since 1921, when the Celebrations of the Old Townwere established, Xanthi has celebrated the spirit of Dionysus,projecting its history, culture, customs, rituals, music and dancessimultaneously. Thousands of people come from all over Greeceto watch theatrical performances, concerts and visit exhibitions.The rhythm is frenzied. No one sleeps. It is a miracle of collectiveeffort with the cultural associations taking a leading role by givingtheir all for its success.“Manos Hadjidakis Xanthi Festival”Since 2007, as part of its cultural and educational events, theProgressive Union of Xanthi has organized the “Manos HadjidakisXanthi Festival” and since 2011 it has done so in collaboration withthe Prefecture of East Macedonia – Thrace.In recent years, the Festival has launched a new series of projectsand events with different approaches to the multifaceted work ofthe great Greek creator. Celebrities are invited to take part in theFestival which begins with a collective evaluation, introduces theaudience to separate themes – tributes and focuses on ManosHadjidakis’ relationship with songs, poetry, the cinema, theatre,radio, recordings and, of course, with his public speaking andattitude towards young creators.Xanthi – SidiniSidini is 18km on the Xanthi-Komotoni National Road (duration:20 mins). A world of imagination and love awaits you. TheMuseum of Children’s Art “Ecumene”. The Museum of Children’sArt “Ecumene” is home to work by children from all over the worldwho participate in the programme “Bridges of Love”, creating andexhibiting fairy tales and handmade dolls made of environmentallyfriendly materials. The World Biennale Children’s Drawing is heldevery two years with the participation of thousands of childrenfrom many countries all over the world.Contact telephone: +30 25410 78109 www.oikoumeni.grAbdera is 18.5km from Sidini. Apart from the ArchaeologicalMuseum, you should visit the nearby Folklore Museum, housed ina traditional stone building.As for today’s Abdera, it consists ofthe village and Skala Abdera with itsendless sandy shore. The village wasestablished in 1700 when the residentsof Polistilos moved here. It is a beautifulvillage with paved stone roads andmansions in the local architectural style(look for Pamouktsoglou). In summerparticularly, people come here for theevents in honor of Democritus and thebeaches of the Thracian Sea, whichhave been awarded with the blue flag.The Archaeological Museumof AvdiraArchitectural plans of the building weredrawn up by the architects, G. Polichroniouand N. Filippidis at the Ministry of Culture.There is evidence of traditional Thracianinfluence in the exterior. Objects foundin the town and cemeteries of Ancient Abdera are exhibited atthe Abdera Archaeological Museum. The exhibition covers thechronological period from the 7th century BC until the 13th centuryAD. The museum has a pronounced educational character and isideal for children and teenagers, whilst also satisfying the mostdemanding visitor.Avdira Folklore MuseumAbdera Folklore Museum is housed in the renovated neoclassicalbuilding of old Abdera School and dates back to 1860. The museum’slocation, in combination with other traditional buildingssurrounding it, compose a unique mosaic of traditional architectureand cultural value. The museumexhibits are organized intwo themes; farm life and the artof weaving and date from 1830 to1950.From Abdera, depart for the picturesquePorto Lagos (18km)where Agios Nikolaos’ Chapelsits harmoniously in Lake Bistonida’ssurrounding area. AgiosNikolaos is the patron saint ofthe sea and sailors. The chapelwas built on the small islandof Bourou and is connected tothe opposite shore by a woodenbridge.