Xanthi, the prefecture and city

About Xanthi

Xanthi is a city in Thrace, northeastern Greece. It is the capital of the Xanthi regional unit of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace.

Xanthi’s scenery is very varied, with the Rhodopi Mountains on its northern borders, the Papikio Mountains, lakes, rivers and the sea. The wetlands of the Nestos River and Lake Vistonis lend a special character to the district and constitute a pole of attraction for ecologists from all over Europe. The archaeological interest in the district is mainly Roman and Byzantine.

The prefecture of Xanthi is the smallest one both in area and population in all of Thrace. More precisely, it has a total area of 1,793sq. km. and a population of approximately 100,000 inhabitants. The multicultural prefecture, with the homonymous capital town, is surrounded by the Nestos river and other smaller rivers, all flowing into the Aegean Sea.

Not far away the visitor may find the island of Thassos, a place of unique beauty. Throughout Xanthi there are small, picturesque villages, all following the traditional architectural style. For the lovers of nature there is a great variety of sports activities, such as canoe, rafting, mountain biking, etc. If you come to Xanthi do not forget to visit the impressive waterfalls of Livaditis.

Brief Historical Review

Known references to Xanthi (Ξάνθη), or Xanthia (Ξάνθεια), date back to 879 AD. It began as a small village and experienced all the tumultuous periods of the history of Thrace, such as raids, disasters, ethnic conflicts, civil wars. The population of the region of Xanthi had dwindled down to almost nothing and almost everything had been destroyed when the Ottomans conquered the region in 1361. For this reason, the Ottomans brought settlers from the depths of Asia Minor, which is how Genisea (Γενισέα) was created, while Oraio (Ωραίο) and Xanthi remained mainly Greek and Christian centres.

Historical Balkan Wars

Following the First Balkan War, Bulgaria took the city of Xanthi in 1912, but after a period of eight months it was taken by the Greek army. Shortly thereafter, as part of the accords concluding the Balkan Wars, Xanthi and Western Thrace were ceded to Bulgaria (where it was also called Скеча Skecha), and remained a part of the latter until the end of World War I.

In 1913 the Greek army expelled or slaughtered all Bulgarians in the city and confiscated all their land and belongings. Following the Bulgarian defeat in this war, Western Thrace (Δυτική Θράκη), and thus Xanthi, became a part of Greece in 1919–1920. In the period 1941–1944 during World War II it was shortly occupied by Bulgaria after which was returned to Greece.

Modern Era

Nowadays Xanthi is a modern city, rich in history, traditions and customs, and with many attractions for the visitors (including the surrounding areas). It is connected with Athens by air through the airport Chrisoupolis, located about 30 kilometers away and through the Egnatia motorway. In addition to this, Makedonia, the International Airport of Thessaloniki is located about 215 kilometers away.

Xanthi is known as "The city of the thousand colours". The cultural life of the town is intense, as well as its rhythms of life. The Thracian Folk Festival-Xanthian Carnival, known to all over Greece, Europe and lately all over the world, the Old Town Festival, unique in its kind and popular for its multiform, Manos Chatzidakis Festival, are insurmountable institutions that give the characteristic of the cultural orgasm at our town, reinforcing events, sectors and clubs...

Life in Xanthi

The institution with the longest life is that of the Carnival of Xanthi - Thracian Folk Festivals launched in 1966. Born in an era of urbanization and industrialization - a time that is crucial to economic issues and issues of identity - has traversed a course of a half century, passed various phases of development and mutation reaching up today.

The Carnival of Xanthi has delivered a number of events around music, dance and theater, and visual reports or other content, lectures, book presentations and film screenings. During these two weeks of events in the city of Xanthi holds a very important position and another form of social perform, the party, which one encounters in many different places and forms. The institution closes with the carnival parade and the custom of burning effigies of Tzaros.

Fun Fact:
Just like IEEE Industry Applications Society, The Carnival of Xanthi just celebrated its 50th year in 2015!
The second festive institution in Xanthi is the Old Town Festival, which continuously since 1991 take place with the advent of autumn. The majority of these events take place in traditional preserved settlement of Xanthi, known as the "Old Town", the streets of which the haunts of cultural and carnival clubs offer food and drink. In haunts of clubs in feasts, while events take place similar to those of the carnival.
The third festive institution, the Youth Festival, taking place in late spring, started the same year as the Old Town Festival, and as their title reveals , they are targeted to school generation of the city. During this celebration students are given the opportunity to be on stage and being in the audience. So the townspeople know the happenings of urban space either through creation - production process either through participation - consumption process.
This is the Festival Manos Hadjidakis, inaugurated in 1995 in honor of the great Greek composer born and raised in Xanthi. This festival hosts concerts from Greece and other Balkan countries and offers an opportunity for choirs from all over Greece and abroad to present their work at the Municipal Auditorium.
As students, we could not possibly hide the fact that in less than 20 minutes from the University's campuses in the city of Xanthi, one can find the organized, shallow blue-watered beaches, ideal for a summer fling. Across the southern part of Xanthi lie beautiful beaches, open to the Thracian Sea, bounded West of the Nestos Delta and East of the lagoons complex Vistonida lake: Beaches and places well-organized and equipped is the Erasmio, Mangana, Avdira and Mandra, woth easey access and sufficient road network. Beaches stand for cleanliness, shallow waters, sandy beaches and picturesque bays attract vacationers and fishermen. These areas offer a rebellious beauty during winter months as well as many opportunities for bird watching.

• Folklore Museum of Xanthi
• Εcclesiastical Museum Metropolis of Xanthi
• Municipal Gallery of Xanthi
• Museum of Natural History
• The Archangels Monastery
• Museum of Children's Art
• Museum of Xanthi
• Tobacco Museum
• Old Town Museum
• Museum Manos Hatzidakis

University in Education

Xanthi has a significant position not only geographically but also as a center of development of special services, research pole and innovation, exploiting the existence of the Polytechnic School of Democritus University of Thrace (in Greek: Δημοκρίτειο Πανεπιστήμιο Θράκης).
Democritus University of Thrace was established in July 1973. It is based in Komotini, Greece and has campuses in the Thracian cities of Xanthi, Alexandroupoli and Orestiada and named in honor of the great ancient Greek philosopher and scientist Democritus who lived near Xanthi, in the city of Avdira.
The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, that was the second department founded in Xanthi, has a total of 45 members of the Teaching and Research Staff at various levels and consists of five Sectors: the Sector of Energy Systems, the Sector of Electronics and Computer Systems Technology, the Sector of Telecommunications and Space, the Sector of Software and Application Development and the Sector of Physics and Applied Mathematics.
Democritus University of Thrace has two faculties and twenty departments in four cities — nine in Komotini, five in Xanthi, four in Alexandroupoli and two in Orestiada. The total number of students is well over 30,000.
In DUTH operate a total of thirty-two (32) student groups. Twenty (20) of them are undergraduates student groups for each Department, and seven (7) are Postgraduate Students Groups. There are two (2) clubs of intern students in Komotini and Xanthi, and there are Alumni Clubs for almost every Department. Finally, there are three (3) Cultural Clubs: Youth Community in Komotini, Gefira in Xanthi, and0 Academic Citizens Club, in Alexandroupoli.