Traveler's Guide

East Macedonia & Thrace

Route in Komotini: Walk in Komotini town. The historic commercial centre. (3.5km)

A proper walk in Komotini takes an entire morning. Begin in IrinisCentral Square. The grove of Agia Paraskevi is behind the Heroon.Following that, visit the Papanikolaou Foundation (call first): +3025310 22015. The building was donated by the town benefactorNikolaos Z. Papanikolaou. The museum is on the second floorand has rare exhibits: manuscripts on papyrus and parchment,ceramics etc. The 420 seat Amphitheatre is on the first floor. Inthe semi-basement there is an exhibition area.After that, follow Iroon Avenue and the 21st Armoured BrigadeMouziopoulou army camp, where the Army Museum can befound, is 300m further on. Inside, there are objects from the historyof war in modern Greece, whilst in the courtyard combatvehicles, tanks, weapon systems and aircraft are exhibited. Temporaryexhibitions are of interest. Entrance is free. Telephone:+30 253105 4214. Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday: 09:00-14:00Wednesday: 17:00-20:00 Saturday-Sunday: 10:00-13:00Go past the Law Courts in Charilaou Trikoupi Street, next tothe old Court Building, which cannot be visited as it is due to berenovated. The building is believed to have been designed andbuilt by a Dutch architect around 1870, under Sultan Abdul Azisand his heir Abdul Hamit II on behalfof the Ottoman Administrationof the period. It served as a commandpost until July 1913.Going along Manesi Street, youhave one of the town’s mosquesand one of the oldest Muslim seminarieson your right. Following thatroad, you reach the Clock Tower, aKomotini landmark.The Clock TowerThe Clock Tower was built in 1884 during Sultan Abdul Hamit II’sadministration. Its present form was the result of interventionsin the 1950s. Behind the tower stands the GeniTzami Minaret,from where the Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer. The Mufti ofKomotiniis in the forecourt. Ermou pedestrian shopping streetis on the SW side of the tower, while on the NE side you will findIfaistou square which is full of tin workshops providing a uniquelook to the adjacent town market.Geni Tzami New MosqueThe mosque was founded at the end of the 16th century (1585)and featured one large dome and five smaller ones. Accordingto the inscription on the south entrance, it was renovated andenlarged in 1902. You enter (without shoes and with your headcovered) through the monument-like entrance, and you attentionis immediately caught by the marble mihrab with its sculptureddecoration and the flower and bud decorated tiles of Prousa.Equally impressive is the marble Minber with its raised floral andgeometric designs. The mosque’s name is “New Tzami” (Geni-Mosque), despite being approximately 25 years older than the socalled “Old” (Eski) Mosque.Cross the mosque courtyard, take Ermou Street and turn right.After crossing Ioanninon Street, look carefully at the small shopson your right which are integrated into a Hippodamian town planningsystem with small roads and beautiful pergolas. At the endof Ermou Street, turn right toward Androutsou Street and youreach the Public market and the old mosque 100 metres furtheron. Have a look at the variety of excellent local products soldhere, before visiting the old mosque.Old Mosque (Eski Tzami)This great mosque was founded in 1608/9. According to the inscriptionit was renovated in 1677/78. The impressive minaret isnotable for its two hanging balconies, while the mihrab with itsminimal décoration and simple wooden minber are the most outstandingfeatures of the mosque’s interior.Ecclesiastical MuseumAfter visiting Eski Tzami, take Xenofontos Street in the directionof Venizelos Street and you will find the Imaret a few meters furtheron. The Imaret is an old Muslim poor house, one of the oldestOttoman monuments in Thrace (1360-1380). Work conducted bythe archaeological department has restored the damaged buildingto its former state.Roof tiles were collected from old houses of Komotini to repairthe mosque’s roof. Today the Ecclesiastical Museum of the HolyMetropolitan Churches of Maronia and Komotini is housed there.Some of the ecclesiastical exhibits were gathered from churchesin the diocese and others donated by refugees who settledhere after 1924. They cover the whole period from the 16th centuryto the beginning of the 20th century. Telephone: +30 2531034177. Opening hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday: 10:30-13:00.Wednesday and Friday: 17:00-20:00. Saturday: 10:00-13:00.After the museum you reach Venizelos Street, one of the mostbeautiful pedestrian shopping streets in Komotini. Turn left andcontinue up to G. Seferis Street. 20metres further on, turn right andthen right again following KouloglouStreet, where you can see twoof the surviving town mansions,now properly restored as part ofthe municipal property. The secondmansion belonged to Skouteris fromEpirus (number 10) and was probablybuilt by Epirote craftsmen at theend of the 19th century.The Skouteris family was highly distinguishedin the economic, socialand political life of Komotini. The building, with its simple neoclassicallines, is a typical example of the contemporary residentialarchitecture of the Thracian middle class. It incorporateslocal building techniques and also adopts the concurrent Europeanstyle as showcased by the first floor frescoes. The buildingwas donated by Vasiliki Skouteri-Dintsoglou to the Municipalityof Komotini and now houses the Thracian, Ethnological, Historyand Cultural Museum of Komotiniand Thrace. The architecture,decoration, furniture and objectsof the Museum provide the visitorwith a vivid image of the lifestyleof the town’s middle class and theatmosphere of the period at theturn of the 19th and 20th centuries.Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday9:00–14:00. Wednesday and Friday18:00-20:00. Telephone: +30 2531030313.At the end of Kouloglou Street, turn right into G. Nikolaou Streetand immediately left into Venizelos Street. Reaching the end ofthe road, turn right and you can enter the Byzantine Fortress, thelargest and oldest (4th century) monument in town. It was built ofstone with strong ceramic cement. With a height of 9.6m, it hadtwo main entrances on the SW and SE sides. In 1363, the Ottomansused material from its wall to build their mosques. In 1910,Bulgarians demolished the towers and a large part of the walls.The Metropolitan Hall was built within its perimeter at the northwesterncorner, in Byzantine style.On the eastern side we find the Metropolitan Church of the Assumptionof Virgin Mary (1812). It is four aisled with a vestibuleand a wooden roof on a lower level than the surrounding ground.It was built on top of the foundations of a Byzantine Church, ofwhich there is mention in 1548 by the traveler Pierre Belon. Thechurch has been declared a listed historical monument. The iconof Virgin Mary, considered miraculous, is also of great artisticand historic importance, dating back to the period between the15th and 16th centuries. The visitor can admire the ornate iconostasiswith its lace decoration (Epirus School), the Bishop’s throneand pulpit.Exit the fortress heading south. On your right you will find therecently renovated building of the Komotini Club, a 20th centurybuilding. On the other side you can see what is considered themost remarkable and historically important town building, theTsanaklios School.The building was constructed according to theprinciples of eclecticism, a predominant architectural paradigmof the 19th century.The school did not have time to serve the purpose intended by thebenefactor. Nevertheless, it successively housed the Orphanage(1919), the General Administration of Thrace (1922-1954), the Prefectureof Rodopi (1954-1972), and the Deanery of the DemocritusUniversity of Thrace until 2000.Behind the Tsanaklios School, the Tsanakli pedestrian streetis full of notable mansions: Antoniadis’ House, the MallipoulosMansion (accommodating public services of the Municipality ofKomotini and the European Union), the first Metropolitan Halland Sianidis’ House (1920). Continue until you reach a big junctionoverlooked by the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos, and turn leftinto Al. Symeonidis Street. You will find a small park, surroundedthe Public Stadium, the Prefecture Building, the first buildingshosting the Democritus University of Thrace, the summer municipaltheatre (700 seats), the Old Heroon, work of the sculptorPetros Moschidis (1930).Komotini Archaeological MuseumThis museum and the archaeological museum in Ioannina are theonly ones in Greece designed by the architect Aris Konstantinidis.The design has clear elements of anonymous architecture, butalso a modernist vocabulary. A “container of life”, as Aris Konstantinidiswanted all his buildings to be, where the past of Rodopiand Thrace of the Aegean survives between light and shadow.The most impressive exhibit is the gold bust of Septimios Seviros(193-211 BC) which adorned the spear of the Imaginiferi of theRoman Army. Entrance: 2 euros full and 1 euro reduced price.Telephone: +30 25310 22411.ithepka@culture.grThe Konstantinos Karatheodori Museum is opposite the archaeologicalmuseum. K. Karatheodori, originally from Vyssain Evros, was born in Berlin in 1873. A mathematician of internationalstanding (professor at 4 German universities as wellas at the Metsovio Polytechnic), he was also a leading engineerand worked on the construction of the Suez Canal. The museumhosts his correspondence with his pupil, Albert Einstein.From N. Zoidou Street, turn towards the town centre and after500m, turn right into Agios Georgios Street. At number 13, the restoredPeidis Mansion, a typical example of popular local archi-tecture, houses the Folklore Museum. The exhibits (costumes,embroidery, artifacts, tools and paraphernalia, household utensils)give a vivid picture of traditional Greek Thrace. Many of theexhibits come from East and North Thrace as well as Asia Minor.The building exactly opposite belongs to the Folklore Museum,known as the Kougioumtzoglou Mansion, and houses temporaryexhibitions. Opening hours: daily 10:00-13:00.Telephone: +30 25310 25975Continue down Agios Georgios until you reach the Holy Churchof Agios Georgios (19th c entury). T he S ociety f or P edagogicalSciences of Komotini has set up a Museum of ThracianEducationin the historical 5th Kindergarten of Agios Georgios:a sentimental journey for some, a history lesson for others.