Prefecture of Xanthi: Tourism-Modern life
The geographical location of the prefecture of Xanthi is in west Thrace and borders Bulgaria to the north, the prefectures of Drama to the northeast and Kavala to the southeast, the prefecture of Rhodope to the west and the Thracian Sea to the south.
The prefecture of Xanthi covers 1,793 sq. km., of which 27% is arable land, 63% forests and 3% meadows in the plains.
The prefecture is administratively divided into the following municipalities and communities:
- Municipality of Xanthi, capital Xanthi
- Municipality of Abdera, seat Abdera
- Municipality of Vistonida, seat Genisea
- Municipality of Myki, seat Sminthi
- Municipality of Stavroupoli, seat Stavroupoli
- Municipality of Topeiros, seat Evlalo
- Community of Thermes
- Community of Kotyli
- Community of Satres
- Community of Selero
The capital of the Prefecture is the city of Xanthi.
The population of the prefecture in 2001 was 101.856 people. It was increased at a rate of 11, 9 % during the decade 1991-2001, but the movement of people from rural to urban areas accelerated, resulted in the decrease of the rural population, mainly on the mountainous regions.
The prefecture is renowned for its natural beauty, as it comprises an extensive network of biotopes (the Nestos Delta, the Nestos Straits, Mt Rhodope), as well as traditional settlements full of life, like the old town of Xanthi, the Pomak villages, Abdera, Stavroupoli and Genisea. The forest reserve on the Rhodope mountain range is of unparallel beauty with the waterfall at Leivaditis and the riparian forest Kotza Orman on the Nestos River, towards the delta.
The archaeological sites, with ancient Abdera and the historic monasteries of Xanthi and Porto Lagos as the focal points, in combination with the wide range of cultural events throughout the year, render the prefecture of Xanthi a popular destination. The prefecture also provides opportunities for various forms of alternative tourism, such as agrotourism (farms for horse riding), religious tourism (Taxiarches Monastery, Panagia Kalamous Monastery, Archageliotissa Monastery in Xanthi, Agios Nikolaos Monastery on Porto Lagos), archaeological tourism (Abdera, the birthplace of Democritus and Protagoras with a superb thematic Archaeological Museum, the Komnina Macedonian tomb, the Kaliva castle, the unique relief of Mithras at Thermae), cultural tourism (the old town of Xanthi, the Tobacco warehouses, the Pomak villages), sports tourism (canoe-kayak, rafting along the Nestos River from the Platanovrisi dam to the Nestos straits and to the Delta, horse riding), bird watching in the Nestos Delta, Vistonida Lake and the lagoon of Porto Lagos. Places of interest for therapeutic tourism are the well-organised spa at Thermae and Potamia. Every Saturday a large open-air market, the bazaar, is organized in Xanthi, with many producers and vendors. In the surrounding area there are many places of interest for those wishing to visit Muslim monuments, the mosques and the Selino Tekke.
The distance from Athens is 736 km and from Thessaloniki 220 km. The prefecture is linked by Egnatia Road with Thessaloniki and by rail with Athens. There are flight connections in the airport 'Alexander the Great' at Chrysoupoli, which is located 35 km from the city of Xanthi.
The hotels of the prefecture provide excellent facilities, although in peak season, which is during the Thracian Folklore Festival in February (Xanthi Carnival) and the Old Town Festival (late August-early September) availability is very limited. There are also hotel units and agro-touristic guest houses in Komnina, Toxotes and other locations, e.g. the Forest Village at Leivaditis.
The capital of the prefecture is also its administration centre, with Hospital, the Polytechnic School of Xanthi with five departments and a Police Academy. Port Authority and a small commercial port are to be found in Porto Lagos.