THE TOWN OF XANTHI
© FOUNDATION OF THRACIAN ART & TRADITION
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Xanthi, a town scrambling along the foothills of the mountain massif at the border of mountain and lowland Xanthi. This is where the waters of the Kosinthos are discharged into the plain, after a journey of many kilometres from the mountains of Rodhopi, framed by the three monasteries of Panayia Kalamous, Panayia Archangeliotissa and the Taxiarches, as well as the ruins of the Byzantine city of Xantheia.
Xanthi Old Town began to be rebuilt in 1830, after the two earthquakes of March and April 1829. Despite extensive destruction, the town was rebuilt and soon regained its rhythm. It flourished in the mid 19th until the early 20th century, a period during which the tobacco trade in which most of the population was employed thrived. A town arranged into quarters (machalades), as was traditional under Ottoman rule. Christians, Muslims, Jews and Pomaks all lived in their quarters arranged around a religious centre (church, mosque or synagogue). Thanks to this multi-religious, multicultural mix and the marriage of eastern and western, the Old Town today has particular architectural interest.
You will encounter much diversity walking through its narrow lanes. Each house has its own identity, its own characteristics. The characteristics of diverse building forms which they inherited from their forefathers, the folk artisans, who evolved their by now mature techniques into an art form.
The aesthetic of each house is unique, but at the same time harmonically bound to its environment, as all were built based on the qualities of local materials and with the forgotten values of traditional architecture. Made from the wood and stone of the surrounding mountains and with functionality in mind, nothing was not designed to impress. The building technique of each artisan, the availability of local materials, and other factors, such as the narrowness of the space, religious concepts, etc. played a decisive role in the form of each building. Built for periods in which people were more dependent on sunlight, in contrast to today?s energy waste and hyper-consumption, which are dependent on electricity and oil.
But Xanthi is not just the Old town. Xanthi is also a modern town, with all the necessary infrastructures, a town that at the same time respects the surrounding nature and its past: With traditions such us the bazaar of Xanthi, the city becomes alive, humane and friendly. So the secret of this city?s beauty is exactly this element: The harmonious combination between the New and the Old.