Prefecture of Rhodope: Tourism-Modern life

Stefania Christianou
Source: ILSP

The prefecture of Rhodope lies in central Thrace and borders the Xanthi prefecture to the west, the Evros prefecture to the east and the Thracian Sea to the south. The prefecture is named after the Rhodope mountain range, which dominates the northern part of the region.
The capital of the prefecture is Komotini, the administrative seat of the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace.
The prefecture of Rhodope covers 2,543 sq. km. with population 103.790 people. The prefecture is mainly flat, with a vast plain which extends to the coastline. Mt Rhodope covers the northern half of the prefecture. Mt Papikion, known from the Byzantine period, is the highest summit.
The prefecture is administratively divided in 9 municipalities and 3 communities:

  • Municipality of Aigeiros, seat Aigeiros

  • Municipality of Arriana, seat Arriana

  • Municipality of Iasmos, seat Iasmos

  • Municipality of Komotini, seat Komotini

  • Municipality of Maroneia, seat Xylagani

  • Municipality of Neo Sidirochori, seat Neo Sidirochori

  • Municipality of Sapes, seat Sapes

  • Municipality of Sostis, seat Sostis

  • Municipality of Fillyra, seat Fillyra

  • Communities of Amaxades, Kechros and Organi

Komotini is a beautiful city with picturesque neighbourhoods. The most important sights are the Byzantine Wall, the Clock Tower, the neoclassical mansions, the Eski Mosque and the Public Garden. The Nymphaea Forest stretches 4 km to the northern part of Komotini. There is a touristic pavilion in the forest to enjoy the magnificent views. The old mansions of Komotini provide evidence for the economic and cultural development of the Greeks in the last phase of the Ottoman period. On the coastline of Rhodope, there are the resorts of Phanari,Arogi and Mesi with beautiful beaches and small fish taverns. The beaches are also ideal for surfing, scuba diving and fishing. The beaches at Maronia, Agios Charalabos, Platanitis, Alkyona and Imeros are of equal beauty. In Maronia harbour cruisers, yachts, sailing boats and fishing boats moor. In the area there is also the so-called 'Cyclops Cave' or Maronia Cave and on the nearby foothills of Mt Ismaros, the Strymni Cave. The wetland biotopes of Vistonida Lake and Ismarida Lake are protected by the Ramsar Treaty and attract many visitors and scientists alike due to their importance. In Ancient Maronia (Ismara) among the preserved monuments are the remains of the ancient fortification wall, a house dated to the 3rd cent. BC, the ancient theatre and the sanctuary of Dionysus. Maronia, built on the slopes of Mt Ismaros, is very picturesque, with renovated mansions and the churches of Panagia and Agios Ioannis Prodromos (18th cent.). At the 28 km on the Old National Road to Xanthi, on the junction to Phanari, lies the traditional settlement of the Sarakatsani. In Ergani, parts of the fortification of the acropolis, dated to 13th-12th cent. BC still remain. At the Agios Charalampos port, a small fishing haven, the ruins of the ancient fortification wall and a monumental Roman propylon are visible. An exquisite example of the 18th century architecture is the bridge at Kompsatos, 12 m high, with three arches. The archaeological site of Peritheorio is located at Anastasioupolis. On the route to Astraia there is an imposing natural monument, the Thracian Meteora, massive rock formations.
The distance from Athens is 850 km and from Thessaloniki 276 km. The prefecture is connected with Thessaloniki by the Egnatia Highway and by railway with Athens. Airline connections are served at the airports 'Democritus' in Alexandroupolis and 'Alexander the Great' in Stavroupolis.
The accommodation provided in the prefecture varies from big hotels in the city to resorts on Maronia beach. On the mountains the visitors can go climbing, trekking, hunting or try other activities in the untouched nature.
The capital of the prefecture is also the administration centre and seat of the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace, with hospital, the Thrace court, police inspectorate, metropolitan and prefecture authorities. The Democritus University of Thrace is also located here. The university is organized in six departments: Physical Education and Sport Science, History and Ethnology, Greek Literature, Social Administration, International Economic Relations and Development, Languages, Literature and Culture of the Black Sea Countries. Two new departments are under development. At the 7th km of the National Road Komotini-Xanthi a Police Academy is located in a large area with modern facilities.

Under Construction
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
Memorial at the centre of Komotini
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
Under Construction
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
Preservable building at Komotini
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
The Eski Mosque
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
1st Primary School of Komotini
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
Preservable building at Komotini
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
Church of Evangelismos Theotokou
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)
Church of Theou Sofias
(Photo: Nikos Hatzigeorgiu)

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