Traveler's Guide

East Macedonia & Thrace

Alexandroupoli – Evros Delta – Panagia Kosmosotira – Tichero Lake – Dadia Forest – Metaxis Soufli Museum – Kale Castle

From Alexandroupoli go to Traianoupoli, where the Evros DeltaInformation Centre can be found. Visitors are informed about thefeatures and importance of wetlands, and in particular, the EvrosDelta. Then, they can board buses operated by the ManagementAuthority and tour the wetland area. The tour includes bird watchingwith binoculars and telescope, as well as a boat ride (weatherpermitting).The Evros DeltaThe River Evros Delta is one of themost important wetlands, not only inGreece but in Europe, which is whyits total area of 23,750 acres (80,000hectares and 3,750 acres surface areaof water) was included in the list ofprotected areas under the InternationalRamsar Treaty (1971), due tothe important species found there. Apart of the Delta has been characterized as a Special ProtectionArea and is proposed as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) inthe Natura 2000 Network.In the Delta natural habitat with its riverside forests, wet meadows,sea lagoons, lakes and rich biodiversity, 317 waterfowl have beenrecorded, using the Delta as a stop in their migratory journey forover-wintering or as a place of permanent residence. More than350 species of fauna have also been recorded.The Evros Delta is 23km or 40 minutes from the Evros Delta InformationCentre and can be reached via the Alexandroupoli – KipiNational Highway.Panagia Kosmosotira Feres ChurchOn a hill of the once Byzantine town of Vira, known as Feres today,we find the 12th Century Byzantine Church, dedicated to PanagiaKosmosotira. Today, the church is a Parish Church of the townand centre of the Worldwide Foundation of Thracians. The churchis the nave of the Old Sacred Monastery of Panagia KosmosotiraVira which was founded by the revered emperor Isaac Komninosin 1151/52. Of all the Monastery buildings, only the Church of Kosmosotirasurvives today, a part of the walls and towers. The Churchholds a celebratory festival on 15th of August every year and hasbeen established as the World Thracian Pilgrimage. After Feres,take the Alexandroupoli – Kipi National Highway for 4.6km, thentake the Ardanio-Orestiada National Highway for 12.1km, turnright for Lefkimi-Tychio in the direction of Tychero and you reachyour destination after 3km.Tichero-Tichero Lake:The old Municipality of Tichero (now part of themunicipality of Soufli) was awarded as a ModelMunicipality for Development Policy by the Academyof Athens in 1995. The peaceful water of theartificial lake, created by the Lyra Dam, is hometo ducks and geese who seem to enjoy this wonderful place. AtTichero Eco-tourism Centre you can admire rare fossils from thearea and try a variety of local products.After Tichero, return to the Ardani-Orestiada National Highway,continue for 12.8km towards Orestiada and then turn left towardsDadia, which is just another 6.4 km further.Dadia ForestThe Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli forest area is a part of the southerneasterntip of the R odopi M ountain R ange, d esignated a s aNational Park by a joint ministerial decision in 2006 with thename ‘National Park of Dadia - Lefkimi -Soufli’. It is high on theGreek list of sites protected under the Natura 2000 framework,and a management body has been founded to serve this purpose.More than 48 species of mammals, such as wolves, deer, squirrels,bats, as well as 42 species of reptiles and amphibians takerefuge here. However, it is its bird life that makes the Forest ofDadia special and unique in Europe, with 212 different species intotal. Within the protected area, a total of 36 out of the 38 Europeanbirds of prey have been spotted. In addition, approximately 20pairs of black vultures nest here every year. They are the onlypopulation left in south-eastern Europe. The Eco-tourism Centre,which headquarters the Management Body of Dadia-Lefkimi-Soufli and is just 500m from the settlement of Dadia, providesinformation (videos, photographs etc.), recreational facilities andaccommodation.After Dadia, visit Soufli. Returning to the Ardanio-Orestiada NationalHighway and after 5.7km, turn left onto V. Georgiou Street forSoufli. Soufli was a renowned centre for silk-worm rearing in thelast decades of the 19th century and early 20th century. It is knownfor its picturesque settlement, silk and the Silk Museum.Piraeus Bank GroupSilk MuseumThe Silk Museum operates under thejurisdiction of the Piraeus Bank GroupCultural Foundation. It is housed atthe Kourtidis Mansion, built in 1883 bylocal craftsmen and is an example ofThracian urban architecture. Discoverthe secrets of silk worm rearing andthe silk industry in an enchanting andhospitable environment.From 1 March till 15 October:Daily: 10:00-18:00From 16 October till 28 February:Daily: 10:00-17:00Tuesday: ClosedDidimoticho is a 25-minute drive from Soufli (28km).Didimoticho MosqueBayezid minaret stands at the bottom of the hill in Didimotichomain square where remains of Byzantine Didimoticho are also evident.It is one of the most magnificent Ottoman mosques in Greece.It was erected on the road that led to the main gate of the castleand was the central point of reference for the Ottoman town whichdeveloped outside the castle. According to an inscription above themain entrance of the building, the mosque was commissioned bySultan Mehmet, son of Bayezid. The mosque was inaugurated inMarch 1420. A second inscription above the side entrance informsus that reconstruction was undertaken by Kadi Didymoticho SeyyidAli, building was done by Dogan bin Abdullah and the engineerwas Ivaz bin Bayezid. The building, therefore, belongs to Mehmet I(1413-1421).The CastleThe castle town of Didimoticho, or “Kales”as it is called by the locals,stands on a rocky mount at a height of 107m, on the left bankof Erythropotamos. The most well-known and impressive featureof the castle is the Princess Tower on the south-eastern corner ofthe fortified hill, which took its name from the legend about thetown administrator’s daughter who fell from its ramparts. At thebottom of the hill, there are hewn hollows in the natural rock whichwere used as storage spaces and and water tanks in house cellars.It is possible that these caves were also used as places of worshipin some cases.