Xanthi

Thrace

Xanthi has an undeniable fascination that may want to make you use it as a base for a few days rather than merely a place in which to pause for a quick look around.

Xanthi, Thrace, Greece

Xanthi has a distinctly eastern feel to it, combined with the energy that comes from its being the seat of the University of Thrace, and the large numbers of young people that brings. It is a small city of bars, bistros and galleries, with a population of about 65,000. The liveliest place is the main square, which has an attractive modern feel to it, with fountains in the middle and restaurants and cafés surrounding it.

The Pomaks

Xanthi is also home to one of the best markets in the region, and if you are here on a Saturday morning you will see the town invaded by a colourful mix of Greeks, Turks, gypsies, and Pomaks. 

The Pomaks are a highly localised indigenous group, being Muslims with Slav rather than Greek origins. There are an estimated 30-35,000 of them in Greece, mostly living to the North of Xanthi, and their language is a mix of Bulgarian, Greek and Turkish.

The Greeks don’t treat them favourably, and require them to have travel permits, and you too would need a permit if you wanted to visit one of their villages, such permits not being easily handed out. The Pomak language is also under threat, as the Greeks discourage them from using it and have put sizable obstacles in the way of the Pomaks who would like to have their own-language newspaper, for example.

Tobacco Plantations and Museums

As you travel through Thrace you will see the large tobacco plantations, and Xanthi became rich on the proceeds. Merchants built their mansions, mostly in the 19th century, and these are concentrated in the old town, a jumble of narrow streets and alleys. One such mansion now houses the town’s Folklore Museum, with displays on the tobacco industry as well as local costumes and jewellery. It is also a chance to see inside one of the mansions, as it has been restored to its former glory.

As well as the Folklore Museum Xanthi has several other museums worth visiting. They include a Natural History Museum, Ecclesiastical Museum, a Museum of Children's Art, a Tobacco Museum, a Traditional Costume Museum and a general Xanthi Museum. Read more about the Museums of Xanthi here.

Old stone bridge near Xanthi, Thrace, GreeceBridge near Xanthi

Where to Stay in Xanthi

Try some more of our Thrace pages...

  • Philippi

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  • Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  • Komotini in Thrace, Greece

    Komotini is a town in eastern Thrace in Greece, with many Turkish influences, and it is also home to the Pomak people.

  • Macedonia and Thrace

    Macedonia and Thrace are the regions in Greece where travelers will find Thessaloniki, Mount Athos monasteries, Halkidiki and sites like Dion and Pella.

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    The Evros Delta National Park is one of the most important wetlands in the whole of Europe, and a magnet for birdwatchers, with nearby accommodation.

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    The Dadia Forest in eastern Greece is famous for wildlife, especially birds, with accommodation and information available at the Dadia Ecotourism Centre.

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    The village of Avdira, or Abdera, with its ancient archaeological site is close to Xanthi in Thrace, Greece, and has its own beach and nearby is Lake Vistonida.

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    Alexandroupoli is a city in the Thrace region of Greece, in the extreme east of the country, the closest Greek city to the border with Turkey.

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