View of Xanthi
|Administrative region:||East Macedonia and Thrace|
|Mayor:||Michalis Stelianidis (incumbent)|
|Population statistics (as of 2011)|
|- Area:||495.4 km2 (191 sq mi)|
|- Density:||131 /km2 (341 /sq mi)|
|- Area:||153.1 km2 (59 sq mi)|
|- Density:||412 /km2 (1,067 /sq mi)|
|Time zone:||EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)|
|Elevation (center):||43 m (141 ft)|
|Postal code:||671 00|
Amphitheatrically built on the foot of Rhodope mountain chain, the city is divided by the Kosynthos River, into the west part, where the old and the modern town are located, and the east part that boasts a rich natural environment. The Old Town of Xanthi is known throughout Greece for its distinctive architecture, combining many Byzantine Greek churches with neoclassical mansions of Greek merchants from the 18th and 19th centuries and Ottoman-era mosques. Other landmarks in Xanthi include the Archaeological Museum of Abdera and the Greek Folk Art Museum.
Xanthi is famous throughout Greece (especially Northern Greece) for its annual spring carnival (Greek: καρναβάλι) which has a significant role in the city's economy. Over 40 cultural associations from around Greece participate in the carnival program. The festivities which take place during the period include concerts, theatre plays, music and dance nights, exhibitions, a cycling event, games on the streets, and re-enactments of old customs.
Xanthi is known as "İskeçe" in Turkish and "Скеча" (Skecha) in Bulgarian.
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 within of Asia Minor, which is how Genisea (Γενισέα) was created, while Oraio (Ωραίο) and Xanthi remained mainly Greek and Christian centres.
By 1715, Xanthi, as well as Genisea, became renowned for its tobacco quality. Many foreign sightseers traveled throughout the region and described both the life and struggles of the locals. Tobacco commerce throughout Europe led Xanthi into a course of prosperity. In March and April 1829 two earthquakes literally leveled the city, however played a decisive role in the further developments. The city's re-building immediately got underway. In 1870, the city of Genisea was burned down and thus all of the agencies and services were transferred to Xanthi which, at that time, had a population of about 10,000 inhabitants. In 1891, the railroad line was established near the city, while further economic development led to the founding of schools and associations.
Following the First Balkan War, Bulgaria took the city of Xanthi in 1912, but during the Second Balkan War in summer 1913 it was captured 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. Following the Bulgarian defeat in this war, the southern parts of Western Thrace came under Allied administration, before being ceded to Greece in the Treaty of Neuilly (1920). In the period 1941–1944, during the Axis Occupation of Greece, the city was annexed by Bulgaria.
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 worth visiting the city during the Carnival (Greek: Καρναβάλι) (either February or March as dates change) and during the Old Town Festival (Γιορτές Παλιάς Πόλης) (beginning of September). Also, one should not miss the Xanthi Bazaar (Παζάρι) every Saturday. Xanthi is known as "The city of one thousand colours", and like Komotini and Didymoteicho has a large population of Turkish-speaking Muslims dating to the Ottoman period. The Muslim population of East Macedonia and Thrace dates to the Ottoman period, and unlike the Turkish Muslims and Greek Muslims of Greek Macedonia and Epirus was exempted from the 1922-23 Greek-Turkish population exchange following the Treaty of Lausanne.
The municipality Xanthi was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 2 former municipalities, that became municipal units:
The municipal unit Xanthi is subdivided into the communities Evmoiro, Kimmeria and Xanthi. These communities contain the following settlements:
- Nea Morsini
- Palaia Morsini
- the abandoned villages Alikochori, Anthiro, Askyra, Eranos, Ketiki, Porta, Prioni and Ydrochori
Carnival and old town’s festivals
The city has rich history, tradition and customs and it is the cultural center in the area. It is also considered a multi-cultural city and it has been characterized as "Xanthi the city of the thousand colours". Xanthi's carnival is very popular (every February) and is one of the most popular carnivals in Greece, while the Old town festival (early September) is equally famous. Furthermore, the bazaar of Xanthi is famous and takes place at Emporiou square every Saturday. In addition the Manos Hatzidakis’ festival attracts worldwide interest.
- 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 (under construction).
Famous people from Xanthi
- Democritus: he was from the village Abdera which is about 20km from Xanthi
- Protagoras: he was from the village Abdera
- Hecateus: he was from the village Abdera
- Manos Hadjidakis (1925–1994): worldwide famous Greek composer
- Şerif Gören: Turkish film director. Winner of 1982 Palme d'Or in Cannes Film Festival
- Archbishop Christodoulos (1939–2008): former Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Church
- Vasilis Torosidis: footballer for Greece
- Akis Panou, (1933–2000): Greek folk musician and composer
- Lambros Papantoniou (Mandra, Xanthi 1945-Washington, USA 2009): journalist, political analyst.
- Zafeiris Melas, contemporary Greek laïko singer.
Xanthi is twinned with:
- Biga, Turkey (since 2000)
- Bursa, Turkey
- Gifhorn, Lower Saxony, Germany
- Novi Beograd, Serbia
- Smolyan, Bulgaria
- Detailed census results 2011 (Greek)
- http://www.xanthi.ilsp.gr/thraki/history/his.asp?perioxhid=B0257 : the bishop of Xantheia is reported as taking part in the Fourth Council of Constantinople
- Xanthi - History. euro travelling.net. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
- Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
- "Twinnings". Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Xanthi.|
- The old town of Xanthi - 3D Reconstruction
- Democritus University of Thrace
- Municipality of Xanthi
- Thrace the land of Orpheus – Democritus University of Thrace
- Cultural and Educational Technology Institute