It’s in the aromas from the chimneys and from Xanthi’s garlic plantations, the smell of the sea and the Rhodopi Mountains’ cool breeze. It’s also the mosaic of cultures, races and religions that come together here, creating a uniquely historic combination of people. It’s the colourful Carnival and festive open-air market. There’s a special ambience here and you can’t quite put your finger on it. But you’ll feel it as soon as you arrive. Welcome to Xanthi.
What to do in Xanthi
The stately Old Town of Xanthi
Xanthi’s Old Town is glamorous and elegant. In the cobblestone streets and grand mansions of the wealthy tobacco merchants, you’ll find vestiges of a glorious era. Their stately multi-coloured homes have painted walls, wooden windows and blossom-filled gardens. Inside they’re decorated with tasteful, handmade furniture, stained glass windows and ornately carved doors. Worth a visit are the Town Hall, built in 1830, the Municipal Gallery on Orpheus Street and the Folklore Museum of Xanthi
Lake Vistonida and Porto Lagos: Where land and water become one
Nature lovers will find their paradise here. From the source of the Nestos River until Abdera, and from there until Porto Lagos and Lake Vistonida, you’ll find a majestic blend of earth and water. The soil here in this corner of Greece is irrigated by the river’s fresh water. This then merges with the salty sea and between the reeds you’ll discover a refuge for rare birds, fish and other animals. Pure and peaceful, this scenery invites you into its serene embrace.
At Pomakohoria, a cluster of villages
‘Is this even Greece?’ you’ll wonder. At Pomakohoria – a cluster of interesting little villages – the unspoilt landscape has not been altered by surrounding influences, and nor have the people. Many locals, with their blond hair and blue eyes, see themselves as the descendents of the Agrianes, the army of elite warriors led by Alexander the Great. Today they live in the foothills of the Rhodopi Mountain range, hearts well and truly set on preserving their cultural identity.
A colourful carnival
Every year Xanthi hosts the most brilliant, beautiful and colourful carnival in northern Greece. All of the city’s cultural communities come together to celebrate and recreate old customs. Although the Carnival has evolved over the years, the combination of modern additions, tradition and folkore is what makes it so special.
Hidden gems of Xanthi
The serpentine Nestos River
The Nestos River cuts across the Rhodopi Mountains, trying to reach the sea, snaking in and out of the mountain range and creating the famous ‘Nestos Straits’. These meanderings result in unique geological formations and are a sight worth seeing by boat.
The birthplace of Democritus
Here you’ll find one of the most important archaeological sites in northern Greece. The first Greeks that settled here in the ancient city of Abdera were from the Ionian city of Teo. The Klazomenes, from Asia Minor, came later in 654 BC and Democritus was born here. Its marvellous small museum will delight you.
The Xanthi bazaar
With a long history, broken only by the centuries of Ottoman rule, the Xanthi bazaar is still a mainstay of residents of the city and an attraction for visitors from all around Greece and abroad. Famed for the diversity of merchandise on display, it is multicultural affair, full of colour, raucous sounds, rousing sights and tantalizing aromas.
- The stately Old Town of Xanthi
- Lake Vistonida and Porto Lagos: Where land and water become one
- At Pomakohoria, a cluster of villages
- A colourful carnival
- The serpentine Nestos River
- The Xanthi bazaar