The City of the Thousand Colours
The tall, white villages climbing the hills of Greece provide an ethereal view of a beautiful region in the world. Standing on the slope of one of those hills, often you will hear the sighs of the sightseers, as well as the appreciative natives. But what of the valleys below, of the lush flora and indigenous fauna? The prefecture of Xanthi is an ecological treasure. If you're a naturalist, or just a traveler who is sensitive to nature's abundant gifts, you will want to visit Xanthi, an easy train ride from Athens.
Xanthi is a city in Thrace, in northeastern Greece. It is the capital of the Xanthi Prefecture of the periphery of East Macedonia and Thrace (wonder if the locals say such a mouthful when describing where they live.) Once the center of the European tobacco trade, Xanthi was quite prosperous until leveled by two major earthquakes in the early 1800's. The city was later rebuilt as a commercial center and capital. Its growth was further developed when the railroad reached the city in 1891.
Today, Xanthi is a modern city like many in Greece, yet still carries its rich traditions, customs and history. It is also surrounded by natural beauty and well worth the bus ride to Kavala, the second largest city in northern Greece. A city of antiquity, you can visit Kavala's medieval castle on a hilltop above town, as well as see the town's fortifications.
Xanthi has many interesting sights. The Folklore Museum of Xanthi dates back to the 1800s and offer a wealth of knowledge on the city's culture and traditions. The impressive Monastery of Panagia Archaggeliotissa tells an intriguing story of ancient happenings in the town.
The Plateia Kendriki or Central Square is known for nightlife – if you consider 4pm the evening. Locals like to get the party started early. Choose from fine cafes to inexpensive tavernas. By 9pm, you'll think the whole town – including children – has come out to celebrate in the square. This is the perfect spot to blend in with the natives who don't need an excuse to have a glass of wine and relax.
If your timing is right, you'll find this city holds a lively Carnival every February, when thousands of people and colorful floats line the streets. In early September, the Old Town Festival celebrates the start of autumn with stalls of food and in the many alleyways. Come for a stay on any Saturday and be treated to the Xanthi Bazaar, home to local traditions and fresh produce.
If its history you're looking for, the area has some 70 archaeological sites from the Neolithic through the Byzantine era. Many, it is said, have yet to be discovered. So, don't forget to pack your shovel. There's no telling what you might dig up in this treasured area.
Contributed by: Anna, Online Marketing, a Greek, whose most beloved place in the whole world is Paris.