Urban myths and legends of Xanthi

From : Porto Lagos
To: Xanthi

Route distance: ~326 kilometers 856 meters

The creation of stories which attempt to explain something, entertain and teach, or are based on echoes of real events, did not of course cease to happen after antiquity.Legends and myths are present everywhere, even today. They are spread by word of mouth, with incredible dynamics. Some of them are occasionally recorded in publications, apart from being recorded in collective memory. On the route “Urban myths and legends of Xanthi”the Regional Unit of Xanthi is presented through 10 selected urban myths and legends. They cover the entire region geographically and a wide chronological range.Today’s visitors can travel from the coastal to the mountainous region of Xanthi and from the region’s old Ottoman capital to the old town of Xanthi and its Byzantine acropolis. They can also discover the urban myths and legends of the area by visiting the places they are associatedwith. Discover them also by chatting with the locals, who keep them in their memory!

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  • Mythotopia
    Xanthi 1st elementary school
    The historical school of Xanthi The building that houses the 1st Primary School of Xanthi was built in 1863 by the local tobacco merchant Michael Metaxas Matsini. Apart from the construction of the school, the donor took care of its staffing and financing for its operation. Initially, it operated as a mutual school. In 1895 the school had 260 pupils.
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    Akathistos Hymnos (Xanthi)
    The unique church of Akathistos Hymnos It was built in 1861 and is located in the Old Town of Xanthi. Its name is unique in Greece with the exception of some chapels. The church has burned down twice, in 1912 and in 1991. Its style is a three-aisled basilica with 12 columns supporting the dome. These columns make the church unique. At the top of each one there is an icon of one of the twelve Apostles.
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    On the border of the regional units of Xanthi and Rodopi, lake Vistonida (or Bistonis) is one of the most well-known lakes in Greece with a very interesting history. It was named after the city of Vistonia (or Bistonia), which was founded by the mythical Biston, and was the home of the Bistones. The lake is mentioned by many writers, geographers, and travelers. Access to the lake is from the nearby villages of Selino, Nea Kessani, Koptero, Salpi, Nea Kallisti and Glykoneri. It is the fourth largest lake in Greece covering an area of ​​45 square kilometers, with an average depth of about 4 meters. It is part of a complex of wetlands and part of the National Park of the Nestos Delta; Vistonida and Porto Lagos are considered as top ecotourism destinations in Greece. It is a brackish lake that is fed by the rivers Kosynthos, Kompsatos, and Aspropotamos. It ends in small lagoons, some of which are used for fish farming. To the south, it is separated from the Thracian Sea and the Vistonic Gulf by a narrow strip of land, where the wetlands of Porto Lagos extend; to the north, the lake reaches almost to the foot of the Rhodope Mountains. The wetland complex is protected by the Ramsar Convention. In Vistonida you will find an ideal place for observing various bird species all year round. Out of 260 species, 9 are rare or endangered, such as the white-headed duck and the lesser white-fronted goose.
  • Mythotopia
    Village of the prefecture of Xanthi; one of the Pomakochoria. In the Pomak settlements of mountainous Xanthi, a folk tradition surviving to this day refers to a group suicide of young girls during the Ottoman period. According to this tradition, the girls were forced to jump from a high and steep rock, being tied together by each other’s hair, to avoid being captured by the Ottomans. In some versions of this tradition, it is mentioned that in the places where the girls fell, various female objects such as rings were found later.
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    National Park of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
    The National Park of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace is a wetland complex that extends to about 930,000 acres. It consists of Nestos Delta as well as Vistonida and Ismarida lagoons. The national park was founded in 2008, with the view of protecting the rich flora and fauna of the area. There are two information centers for the national park: the Information Center of Lake Vistonida, at the western entrance of Porto Lagos, as well as the Information Center of the Nestos Delta, in Keramoti of the Regional Unit of Kavala. National Park of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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    Cathedral of God's Wisdom
    The cathedral of Xanthi, located in the city center. It was recently built and it is of new-Byzantine style with a dome.
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    P or Rezi tobacco warehouse
    The tobacco warehouse P (Greek alphabet Π), one of the many tobacco warehouses of Xanthi, owes its name to the shape of its floor plan. It was probably built in 1890 to house the offices and warehouses of the Ottoman tobacco monopoly Régie Co Intéressée des Tabacs de l'Empire Ottoman based in Istanbul. From the name of the company derives the second name by which it is known today. The operation of the tobacco warehouse was stopped in 1912 during the First Balkan War when Xanthi was occupied by the Bulgarian army. After the liberation of the city, it housed various services and institutions. Today it houses cultural institutions of the Municipality of Xanthi and the Foundation of Thracian Art and Tradition. The Foundation of Thracian Art and Tradition was founded in 1998 is active in culture and education. It hosts art exhibitions, lectures on various subjects, concerts, workshops for children and adults in various arts. It also organizes social tutorials, operates as a Vocational Training Centre in many fields. The premises are also home to an art conservation workshop. EMT Greece
  • Mythotopia
    Kompsatos is a river flowing in Thrace. It originates from the Rhodope Mountains and the area of ​​Echinos. After following a course of  68 kilometers between steep and inaccessible slopes, it ends in the plain of Xanthi and finally flows into the northern part of Lake Vistonida. According to some scholars, Kompsatos has been identified with the river Kossinitis, which is mentioned in literary works of antiquity. According to mythology, Diomedes' horses turned wild after drinking water from this river. Kompsatos is an important habitat with a rich fauna of about 130 species of birds, some of which are threatened with extinction. Between the villages of Iasmos and Polyanthos, the visitor arrives at the stone bridge over Kompsatos, known as Polyanthos bridge, an Ottoman arched bridge that dates back to the 15th century.
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    Muzaffer Bey residence
    The oldest residence in Xanthi The Muzafer Bay konak (residence) was built around 1840. It consists of the ground and two upper floors which are the main living quarters. The many large windows ensure plenty of light in the rooms. Interesting is the gable of the central section that moderates the solidity and volume of the structure. The painted decoration is preserved in the gable background. In addition the interior is also decorated with frescoes and ceiling paintings. As it is one of the oldest buildings in the city that preserves elements of local traditional architecture, it has been classified as a historical monument by the Ministry of Culture and Sports.
  • Mythotopia
    Kosynthos, also known as Kompsatos or Kosinitis, is one of the most important rivers in Thrace that flows through the city of Xanthi. Its total length is 55 kilometers. It springs from Rhodope mountain range and flows in Vistonida lake. For most of its route, through the regional units of Xanthi and Rodopi, the river traverses a course in the mountains, between small valleys and deep ravines with wooded slopes and impressive formations of high and steep cliffs. Small waterfalls and lakes are formed in many parts of the riverbed. Oak and pine forests spread all over the area and beech trees meet them along the Greek-Bulgarian borders. The area is the habitat of wild animals mainly, mammals as well as birds, some of which are in danger of extinction.  In the city of Xanthi, Kosynthos flows through the neighborhoods of the Old Town and Samakov, heading towards lowland areas up to its estuary in the northern part of Vistonida lake. Kosynthos River
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    Folklore Museum of Xanthi
    Culture and "tsevredes" in the mansions of Xanthi The Folklore Museum of Xanthi is housed in the mansion of Athanasios and Pantelis Kougioumtzoglou. The three-story residence was built in the middle of the 19th century. These were the residences of the two tobacco merchants that are adjacent to each other, have a common roof with gables at the two entrances. The interior is decorated with frescoes by German painters. The museum was founded in 1975 by the Progressive Union of Xanthi (FEX) while it was initially housed in a smaller space. Through permanent exhibitions, the social, economic, religious, agricultural, livestock and in general life of the countryside of Thrace is presented, both public and private life. Among the exhibits are sacred relics, jewelry, textiles and tsevredes, costumes of Thracians-Sarakatsani and Pontians, as well as agricultural tools, carved chests, etc. In the backyard of the Museum there are the Turkish baths and the church of Agios Akindynos. Ministry of Culture
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    Agios Nikolaos monastery (Porto Lagos)
    Located on the islet of Lake Vistonida or Bourou, near the settlement of Porto Lagos, Agios Nikolaos is a dependency (metochion) of the sovereign Vatopedi Monastery on Mount Athos. It is connected to the mainland by a wooden bridge and has a small guesthouse. A small brotherhood, originating from the Vatopedi Monastery, operates daily. On December 6th, the feast day of Saint Nicholas, visitors gather here to celebrate. The establishment of the monastery is associated with certain traditions. According to the first one, the area around Vistonida was granted to Vatopedi Monastery by the Byzantine emperor Arcadius, and the monastery of Agios Nikolaos was established as an expression of gratitude to the Virgin Mary for his salvation from a shipwreck near Vatopedi. The second tradition refers to the miraculous rescue of the sick daughter of an Ottoman landowner by an Orthodox hermit who was in the area of Porto Lagos. To thank God for his daughter's rescue, the grateful father donated his land in the area for the establishment of a Christian monastery.   JTI Target (video)
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    Panagia Archageliotissa Monastery
    The monastery is northeast of Xanthi, above the Samakov district. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is a pilgrimage for all Thracians. It was built in 1841 and was destroyed twice by earthquakes. The crypt behind and below the sanctuary is dated back to 1000-1100. The monastery was named after a 16th-century icon depicting Mary next to the archangels Gabriel and Michael bearing the inscription “Archangeliotissa” (Mary of the archangels). The monastery was looted during the Bulgarian occupation, but it has now been restored. Thousands of pilgrims visit the monastery nowadays. Municipality of Xanthi (video)
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    Panagia Kalamou Monastery
    The monastery is located north of Xanthi, on a rock in the ravine of Kosynthos River. Although it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin, it celebrates on the 23rd of August. It was named after the reeds (called “kalamies” in Greek) that are abundant in the area where the icon of the Virgin was found. The monastery was built in the early 20th century. According to tradition, the monastery was built during the iconoclasm (726-843) by the iconophile monks who left Constantinople and settled in the monastery to escape iconoclasts. EMT Greece Municipality of Xanthi (video)
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    Life Path
    A 2,5km walking path within a green area that ends in the Old Town of Xanthi. It takes about 1 hour. The path is full of trees and has many touch points with Kosynthos river. The visitor can also explore caves, visit the Archangel Michael chapel and see the exhibits of many traditional workshops.
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    Nea Kessani
    Village in the Abdera Municipality, very close to Vistonida. It is one of the few villages in Thrace where the custom of Babo (Gynaikokratia) is still celebrated every year on the 8th of January. Thracian Electronic Thesaurus
  • Mythotopia
    City in Thrace, at the foot of Rodopi Mountains. Xanthi is the twelfth largest city in Greece and it covers an area of 495.1 square km. The city is the capital of the Regional Unit of Xanthi and the Municipality of Xanthi and it gathers the largest commercial and cultural activity of the wider area. Important attractions of the city are the Castle, the Clock, the Holocaust Memorial of Xanthi, the Tobacco Warehouses, the Folklore Museum, the Museum of Natural History, the Municipal Art Gallery and more. Xanthi is the birthplace of composer and Oscar winner Manos Hatzidakis. Municipality of Xanthi (video) Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (video)
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    House of Manos Hadjidakis  
    The Grand Mansion was built at the end of the 18th century for Isaac Daniel, a Jewish financier, broker and tobacco merchant. After his death it passed to the Greek state.   The second floor of the listed monument and fully renovated building on Eleftheriou Venizelou Street is where the great composer Manos Hadjidakis was born in 1925 and lived his early childhood. Old photographs of Manos Hadjidakis' family, a few personal items, sheet music and musical notes of his works are exhibited in the room. In recent years, the building has housed the Multipurpose Art and Thought Centre "Manos Hadjidakis House" hosting events and musical performances.   EMT Greece
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    Xanthi flea market
    The bazaar of Xanthi is the largest open market in Northern Greece. The much older bazaar of Xanthi is held every Saturday in this new location since the beginning of the 20th century. The bazaar offers a variety of goods and is visited by thousands. Municipality of Xanthi (video)
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    Old Town of Xanthi
    It is located in the northern part of Xanthi and is its historical core. It was built after 1829, when earthquakes destroyed the previous settlement. The city was built on the ruins. The Old Town of Xanthi is unique and is an important cultural capital for the wider region of Thrace. Municipality of Xanthi (video)
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    Panagia Pantanassa (Porto Lagos)
    Chapel in Porto Lagos, built on the second island, opposite the church of Agios Nikolaos. A wooden bridge connects the two chapels. The name "Pantanassa" means "queen of everything".
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    Dimokratia square
    The central square of Xanthi, designed in 1870.
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    Villages in the regional units of Xanthi, Rodopi, and Evros with a Pomak population. Due to the mountainous nature of the area, the Pomak villages are quite isolated. As a result, they have preserved the traditional architecture of the houses and their unique culture. The hospitable residents are primarily engaged in tobacco cultivation, particularly the Basma variety. National Geographic gkthrace - Pomak song (video)
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    Porto Lagos
    Village on the border of Xanthi and Rodopi, at the point where Vistonida lake joins the Thracian Sea. It is a famous fishing site, although not as rich as it used to be. The main species are the sea bass and the sand steenbras. Good news for bird watchers, as the surrounding pines are filled with herons. The area is also suitable for cycling or walking, as there are bike lanes, dirt roads and paths. Of course, you can have great boat trips, too. The Pilot X Project (video)
  • Mythotopia
    Xanthi Clock Tower
    The 19th century clock tower in Xanthi The clock tower in Xanthi was built in 1859 or in 1870 by Haji Emin Agha. In its original form there were reliefs of the star and the crescent. It was part of the Agora Mosque, which was burnt down in 1941. The tower shows influences from various architectural trends, elements that are due not only to its geographical location, as Xanthi was a crossroads of cultures, but also to the renovation it received in 1938. The clock, as the monument is otherwise known, is the trademark of the city. At the mosque near the bazaar of Xanthi there was another identical tower that was razed to the ground by the Bulgarian army.
  • Mythotopia
    Sachnisi is a style of the facades of traditional buildings. It is a ledge of the building, which rests on wooden beams.
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    Village of Xanthi, built in a small valley of Kosynthos river. It is one of the Pomakochoria of Xanthi. The main sight of the village is the white mosque. 
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