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Home 10 December 2023
Natural Environment Water Bridges East Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Xanthi

Stone bridge in mountain Xanthi
(Photo: Nikos Kokkas)
Stone bridge in mountain Xanthi
(Photo: Nikos Kokkas)
Stone bridge in mountain Xanthi
(Photo: Nikos Kokkas)
Stone bridge in mountain Xanthi
(Photo: Nikos Kokkas)
Stone bridge in mountain Xanthi
(Photo: Nikos Kokkas)
Stone bridge in mountain Xanthi
(Photo: Nikos Kokkas)

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East Macedonia and Thrace
Prefecture of Xanthi
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Most of the old bridges of Xanthi are located in the mountain regions, dating to the 18th-19th century, whilst there are also some newer ones. Until recently, these bridges were a necessary part of the road network. The point at which a bridge was to be built depended on the formation of the riverbed, so that the construction would have the best possible foundations. Their position was a nodal point, where central roads and footpaths met. These bridges were very important, and thus it was common for inns, mills and military outposts to be built near them. These traditional bridges were built by skilled artisans. Taking stone as the basic building material, they would start building at both sides at the same time, proceeding gradually towards the peak. The traditional bridges of the Prefecture of Xanthi vary in their size, form and number of arches. The central arches are semi-circular or peaked, and there are also the so-called ?relief arches? or ?windows? which reduced the weight of the bridge and eased the water flow during a flood. The most durable section of the bridges is, of course, their base. At their contact point with the rocks they usually used larger stones, whilst for large structures they formed a kind of ?stern? which protected the whole structure from the ferocity of the water. The paving on the upper part of the bridges is reminiscent of the cobbled paths on footpaths, with broad flat paving stones.
Most of the traditional bridges in the Prefecture of Xanthi are along the Rivers Kosynthos and Kompsatos. On the 5th km along the Xanthi-Stavroupolis road we encounter a bridge that is very long but not very high, of which two large arches survive. One km later on the same road, we see a small, single-arched stone bridge over a tributary of the Kosynthos. There is a newer, large bridge at the 7th km, which forms part of today?s road network, whilst at the 8th km we encounter the ruins of a single-arched bridge that was washed away in recent floods. Continuing on the same route, we meet small, single-arched bridges at the 8th, 11th and 20th km for Stavropolis.
There are many impressive and perfect bridges along the River Kompsatos. Starting at Thermes, we soon encounter the large bridge of Medusa, and another one continuing along the dirt road for Kottani. If we follow the footpath to Koundouro and Tsalepetino we reach, after a two-hour walk, an imposing bridge with a central apse and two smaller arches at the edges. There are a further four bridges around Satres: a new one built in our century a little outside the village, an old bridge within Satres, a particularly tall one on the dirt road that leads to the village of Akraios, and a small one on the road for the village of Temenos. The most important bridge along the Kompsatos is, of course, the Byzantine bridge of Iasmos in the neighbouring Prefecture of Rodhopi, a true jewel for the whole of Thrace.
There are also smaller bridges in the Prefecture of Xanthi, often in villages, such as at Sideropetra, Kalotycho, Thermes and Kato Karyofyto (built 1813).