General information on the Municipality of Iasmos
The Municipality of Iasmos is situated in the western section of the Prefecture of Rodopi. To the northwest it borders with the Prefecture of Xanthi, to the northeast with Bulgaria and to the southwest with Vistonida lake. The municipality covers an area of 200 km2 and has a population of ?. inhabitants. The Municipality consists of the villages: Iasmos, Amvrosia, Paladio, Mikro Paladio, Salpi, Glykoneri, Dialambi, Koptero, Mosaiko, Galini and Ipiko. It is seated at Iasmos, which is 20 km from Komotini and 28 km from Xanthi and communicates with the Egnatia highway through a special interchange; it is built on the foothills of the Rodopi mountain range, at a unique site that combines the fertile plain with the magic of the mountain. Here Christians and Muslims co-exist in harmony and their main occupations are agriculture and livestock farming. It is speculated that Iasmos was created as a result of the resettlement of the inhabitants of Anastassioupoli following its conquest by the Turks in 1360-1400. There is an abundance of mythological material in connection to Vistonida lake (a refuge for over 200,000 aquatic birds). It is said that its name originates from the Vistonians, the ancient people of Thrace. Hercules came to this area during his eighth labour, which was to kill the man-eating horses of Diomedes. But in spite of Euresthene?s hope that he would get rid of Hercules, Hercules killed the horses but lost his friend Abderus; in his honour he then founded Abdera, the hometown of Democritus, the philosopher of atomic theory.
Anastassioupoli was one of Thrace?s most important towns and it was built by Emperor Anastasius I (491 ? 518 A.D.) at the Vistonida inlet. The town walls, which are almost in tact, never fail to impress the visitors. The town?s aqueduct, built under Justinian, was an important work.
At Iasmos visitors may admire the wonderful small churches, the small traditional houses, the lanes leading uphill to the mountain?s slopes and the magnificent nature of Thrace. The lowlands and the forested mountainous areas compose the beautiful natural environment of the Municipality of Iasmos, where many forms of life survive. Visitors have the opportunity to admire monuments, such as the three-aisled Early Christian church at Polyanthos, the ancient Thracian settlement at Lino, the ruins of Maximianoupolis ? Mosynoupolis, the fortified enceinte of Anastassioupolis ? Perithorion and the magnificent Byzantine bridge at Kompsato. Visitors will find the route ? pilgrimage to Mount Papikion, the second most famous monastic state after Mount Athos, unforgettable. Mount Papikion is a cone-shaped mountain of moderate altitude at the borders between Greece and Bulgaria. Its two tallest peaks in Greek territory have an altitude of 1,483 m and 1,460 m. At 1,000 m there are deciduous oak forests and species of pine trees. Eastern beech forests dominate above 1,000 m. The upper zone of Mount Papikion is one of Greece?s most important habitats, as it includes rare flora species.
Today the cultural society of Iasmos has an archive of old photographs and is attempting to collect and record customs, traditions, folk songs, anecdotes and stories. The society organises photography, painting, skiing, chess and Byzantine music and dance classes, and runs a lending library. At the Fanari junction, the Sarakatsanoi of Iasmos have set up a model Sarakatsan settlement and every year during the ?Kalogiannia? the fires of Klidonas are re-lit and at evening prayer the settlement?s church comes to life again.
The people of this area, people of tradition who are renowned for their enthusiasm and the excellent tsipouro they produce, are sure to enchant any visitor fortunate enough to arrive at this beautiful place.