Prefecture of Drama
Source: CETI/ Athena R.C.
© Prefecture of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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The Prefecture of Drama is located at the northeastern corner of Greece, at the borders with Bulgaria. It is an agricultural area and has the richest natural environment in the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace. The main occupations of the inhabitants are agriculture, livestock farming and forest products. The main agricultural production consists of cereals, cotton and tobacco. The beans and the potatoes of Nevrokopi are famous products of the area. Livestock is mainly focused on domestic sheep and goats, cattle and pigs, while the abundant forest products are used in the local wood industry. The exportation of marbles to the Arabic countries, Europe, USA and Japan is also an important economic sector.
Nestos river and its lakes flow through the north and central parts of the Prefecture. Their water is used as a source of energy, for irrigation purposes and for the tourist development of the region. On the other hand, Aggitis river has a cave of unrivalled beauty and is located 23 km from Drama. The cave has a total length of 12 km but visitors can only see the first 500 metres. Visiting the cave can be combined with other aquatic activities like rafting and canoeing in the gorge of Aggitis river.
The human presence at the Prefecture can be dated as early as the Mid Paleolithic Age (50000 BC) with the earliest signs of life being the remains of Paleolithic hunters found at the Springs of Aggitis river. During the Byzantine times, from the 14th century (the Ottoman occupation) until the 20th century, the Christian Church of Drama underwent a terrible ordeal and many neo-martyrs died in the name of faith and patriotism.
Visitors have the opportunity to wander around in the unique red fir forests and be delighted by the natural monuments, like caves or ravines. They may go for trekking, or even mountaineering, climbing, and practicing air sports. In addition, visitors can take a cultural tour in the Byzantine monasteries and churches, the archaeological sites and the local museums. They may also watch the marvelous events and take part in the festivals and other cultural events. The ecotourism enthusiasts will find an important net of agrotourism installations, mostly in the forests and the cultivation areas. The cave of the Springs of Aggitis river, the ski resort of mount Falakro, the archaeological site of Kali Vrysi, the Drama archaeological museum, the natural history museum of Paranesti and the Thisavros Dam are only some of the several sights that visitors can admire in the area.
The folklore art of the area contains many elements inspired by ancient Greek and Byzantine traditions. The locations of Volakas, Kali Vrysi, Monastiraki, Xiropotamos, Petrousa and Pyrgoi become the centre of spectacular traditional festivities during the days of Epiphany, recalling the Dionysian spirit. In Easter time, the area also holds some special traditions. On the Saturday of Lazarus, a group of children performs the religious chant of the Passion of the Christ and the event concludes with the feast of the Holy Spirit and the celebrations that take place at the chapel under the same name, in Volakas, with a lot of dancing and singing. In springtime, traditional horse races take place in the village of Doxato that date from the period of the Ottoman occupation. Every 21 May, the festival of ?Anastenaria? takes place in Mavrolefki. It is an ecstatic dance with the accompaniment of lyres and tabors, performed by fire-walkers who walk on burning coals without burning themselves. The tradition of ?Arapides? also revives every year on 6 January, which is an event combining exaggeration and magical and worship features. It originates from the ancient Greek cult and the Dionysian ceremonies, yet influenced at the same time by Christianism.