Coordinates: 41°8′N 24°53′E / 41.133°N 24.883°E / 41.133; 24.883
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Old town of Xanthi
Old town of Xanthi
Xanthi is located in Greece
Coordinates: 41°8′N 24°53′E / 41.133°N 24.883°E / 41.133; 24.883
Geographic regionThrace
Administrative regionEastern Macedonia and Thrace
Regional unitXanthi
 • MayorEmmanouil Tsepelis (New Democracy)
 • Municipality495.1 km2 (191.2 sq mi)
 • Municipal unit153.1 km2 (59.1 sq mi)
43 m (141 ft)
 • Municipality
 • Municipal unit
 • Municipal unit density410/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
 • Population56,122 (2021)
Time zoneUTC+2 (EET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+3 (EEST)
Postal code
671 00
Area code(s)2541
Vehicle registrationAH

Xanthi (Greek: Ξάνθη, Xánthi, [ˈksanθi], Turkish: İskeçe) is a city in the region of Western Thrace, northeastern Greece. It is the capital of the Xanthi regional unit of the region of East Macedonia and Thrace.

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.[2] Other landmarks in Xanthi include the Archaeological Museum of Abdera and the Greek Folk Art Museum.

Xanthi is famous throughout Greece (especially Macedonia and Thrace) for its annual spring carnival[2] (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.[2]


There are two theories regarding the origin of its name: it was either named after a daughter of Oceanus and Tethys, or after Xanthi, one of the Amazons that ruled the region, according to legend.

Xanthi is known as "İskeçe" in Turkish[3] and "Скеча" (Skecha) or "Ксанти" (Ksanti) in Bulgarian.[4]


Xanthi is sometimes identified with the ancient city of Xantheia mentioned in the 1st century BC by the geographer Strabo,[5] but it was not mentioned by any other ancient historian.[5] 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, as the region was depopulated in the 3rd century AD[5] 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.[6]

Middle Ages[edit]

Known references to Xanthi (Ξάνθη), or Xanthia (Ξάνθεια), the city's origins are obscure; it was a prosperous stronghold of the Byzantine era but latter became a colony of the Ottomans known as Eskije.[7] Xanthi is first recorded in 879 (Bishop Georgios of Xantheia is reported as taking part in the Fourth Council of Constantinople[8][9]). From the 13th to the 14th century it was the most important city of the region. Three monasteries date from the Middle Ages: Pammegiston, Taxiarchon, and Panagia Archangeliotisa,[8] although written records indicate several others now lost.[10] Xanthi featured in the campaign of Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1327.

Early modern[edit]

Church in Mitropoleos Square

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. The tobacco trade throughout Europe led Xanthi into a course of prosperity. George Demetriou was active in the Xanthi area during the Greek Revolution of 1821. In March and April 1829 two earthquakes leveled the city, however, they played a decisive role in the further developments as the city's rebuilding immediately got underway.[10] 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, a rail line was established near the city, while further economic development led to the founding of schools and associations.[11] During the late period of Ottoman rule until 1912, the city was administratively located in the Sanjak of Gümülcine within the Adrianople Vilayet.

Balkan Wars[edit]

During the First Balkan War, Xanthi was captured by the Bulgarian army from the Ottomans in 8 November 1912. In the Second Balkan War the Greek army captured it in July 1913.[10] However, with the Treaty of Bucharest, Xanthi along with 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, Western Thrace came under Allied administration and on 4 October 1919 the Greek army under Georgios Leonardopoulos command entered the city. That date is today celebrated in Xanthi as the anniversary of its liberation. Second lieutenant Gavriel Ladas, who was from Xanthi, led the first Greek troops in the city. Ladas became the mayor of Xanthi from 1959 to 1964.

World War II[edit]

Guerillas of the Greek People's Liberation Army in Xanthi during World War II
The Jewish cemetery of Xanthi after its restoration by Association PAKETHRA in 2015.

On 8 April 1941 the 164th Infantry Division captured Xanthi following the German invasion of Greece and the Germans passed the city to Bulgaria, who occupied the whole region east of Strymonas, except a small German zone near the border with Turkey. The city became the administrative center of the Bulgarian province of Belomorie and served as headquarters for the Bulgarian Second Army. During the Bulgarian occupation, more than 2,000 men from Xanthi, both Christians and Muslims were sent for forced labor in Bulgaria.[12] On 4 March 1943 the Jews of Xanthi were arrested by the Bulgarians and imprisoned in a tobacco warehouse. On 18 and 19 March, they were deported to Nazi concentration camps in Poland. From a community of 550 people, only six Jews survived the Holocaust.[13] The synagogue of Xanthi built in 1926 at the corner of Hatzistavrou and Anatolikis Thrakis streets, was used by Christian Associations and later abandoned. It was sold and demolished in 1995.[14] The city was liberated following the 9 September coup d'etat in Bulgaria when partisans of the Greek People's Liberation Army entered the city and took over control without a fight. However, the Bulgarian army remained in the region until the end of October 1944 and it withdrew under pressure from the Allies.[15]


The Orthodox Cathedral of Xanthi.

Nowadays Xanthi is a modern city, rich in history, traditions and customs, and with many attractions for the visitors (including the surrounding areas). Xanthi is known as the city of a thousand colours, and like Komotini (Gümülcine) and Didymoteicho (Dimetoka) has a large population of Turkish-speaking Muslims. The Muslim population of East Macedonia and Thrace dates to the Ottoman period, and unlike the Ottoman Muslims and Greek Muslims of Greek Macedonia and Crete was exempted from the 1922–23 Greek-Turkish population exchange following the Treaty of Lausanne. In 1972 the Greek authorities planned to demolish the landmark of the city, the clock tower, built by Pomak Hadji Emin Aga in 1870. This decision resulted in protests by the local Muslims and the plans were cancelled.[16]


Road Transport[edit]

A few kilometers outside Xanthi, the Egnatia Motorway crosses Xanthi with Macedonia, Epirus and the rest of Thrace. The Xanthi Bus Station runs daily services to several cities throughout Greece. Xanthi is 206 km from Thessaloniki, 704 km from Athens, 397 km from Istanbul and 236 km from Edirne. On January 15, 2010, the Agios Konstantinos border crossing point between Greece and Bulgaria was inaugurated, 51 km from Xanthi, linking the nearby village of Thermi with the town of Zlatograd. Under construction is the vertical cross-border axis of Egnatia Road, which will connect Xanthi with the Bulgarian town of Rudozem.

Rail transport[edit]

Outside Xanthi is the Xanthi railway station on the Thessaloniki-Alexandroupoli line, with daily services to Thessaloniki and Alexandroupolis.

Air Transport[edit]

Xanthi does not have an airport. It is mainly served by Kavala Airport, 42 km away, and secondarily by Alexandroupolis Airport, 112 km away.


The municipality Xanthi was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 2 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[17]

The municipality has an area of 495.118 km2, the municipal unit 153.116 km2.[18]


The municipal unit Xanthi is subdivided into the communities Evmoiro, Kimmeria and Xanthi. These communities contain the following settlements:

  • Evmoiro
    • Kallithea
    • Lamprino
    • Lefki
    • Nea Morsini
    • Palaia Morsini
    • Petrochori
  • Kimmeria
    • Gialisteri
    • Livadi
    • Pelekito
    • the abandoned villages Alikochori, Anthiro, Askyra, Eranos, Ketiki, Porta, Prioni and Ydrochori
  • Xanthi


Traditionally, the tobacco business, commerce, and farming have been the primary occupation of the residents of the area. During the last decades, tourism has also increased, especially during the period of the "festivals of the old town".


Year[19] Population
1940 31,015
1951 27,283
1961 27,802
1971 27,040
1981 33,897
1991 38,808
2001 46,464
2011 56,122


School of Engineering

  • Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Department of Civil Engineering
  • Department of Environmental Engineering
  • Department of Architectural Engineering
  • Department of Production Management Engineering

Cultural events[edit]

Carnival and old town's festivals[edit]

The city has a 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 "the city of the thousand colours". Xanthi's Carnival is very popular (every February) and is one of the most popular in Greece, while the "old town festival" (early September) is equally famous. Furthermore, the bazaar of Xanthi is famous and takes place at Emboriou Square every Saturday. In addition, the Manos Hatzidakis' festival attracts worldwide interest.


Folklore museum
  • Folklore and Historical Museum of Xanthi
  • Εcclesiastical Museum Metropolis of Xanthi
  • Municipal Gallery of Xanthi
  • Museum of Natural History
  • Foundation of Thracian Art and Tradition
  • Museum of the History of the Greek Costume
  • Tobacco Museum
  • Manos Hadjidakis House


Famous people from Xanthi[edit]

International relations[edit]

Xanthi is twinned with:


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Census 2021 GR" (PDF) (Press release). Hellenic Statistical Authority. 19 July 2022. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Visit Greece | Ξάνθη". visitgreece.gr. Retrieved 29 March 2016.
  3. ^ Heath W. Lowry, The Shaping of the Ottoman Balkans, 1350-1550: The Conquest, Settlement & Infrastructural Development of Northern Greece, Bahçeşehir University Publications, 2008, ISBN 9756437782, р. 213.
  4. ^ Радослав Попов, Балканската политика на България 1894-1898, Българска академия на науките, стр 164.
  5. ^ a b c Samsaris, D. C. (2005). Ιστορική γεωγραφία της Δυτικής Θράκης κατά τη ρωμαϊκή αρχαιότητα [Historical Geography of Western Thrace during the Roman Antiquity] (in Greek). Thessaloniki. pp. 86–88.
  6. ^ Xanthi – History Archived 27 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine. euro travelling.net. Retrieved 5 April 2012.
  7. ^ Xánthi, at Encyclopaedia Britannica.
  8. ^ a b About Xanthi.
  9. ^ "Θρακικός Ηλεκτρονικός Θησαυρός - Ιστορία".
  10. ^ a b c History of Xanthi Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  11. ^ Νίκος Λιανός, αρχιτέκτων, Επ. Καθηγητής ΤΑΜ-∆ΠΘ. Μορφολογικά χαρακτηριστικά των κτηρίων της παλιάς πόλης της Ξάνθης. Ιστοσελίδα Δημοκρίτειου Πανεπιστήμιου Θράκης, σσ. 1. Ανακτήθηκε στις 18 July 2011.
  12. ^ Exarchou, Thomas P. (2002). Ξάνθη 1941–1944. Xanthi: Όμηροι Βουλγαρίας.
  13. ^ "Ξάνθη".
  14. ^ Messinas, E. (2022). The Synagogues of Greece: A Study of Synagogues in Macedonia and Thrace: With Architectural Drawings of all Synagogues of Greece. Seattle: KDP. pp. 133-144 and 197-199. ISBN 979-8-8069-0288-8
  15. ^ Featherstone, K.; et al. (2011). The Last Ottomans: The Muslim Minority of Greece 1940–1949. Springer. p. 190. ISBN 978-0230294653.
  16. ^ Mangalyakova, Tanya (2011). Нашите в Гърция. Sofia. p. 20.
  17. ^ "ΦΕΚ A 87/2010, Kallikratis reform law text" (in Greek). Government Gazette.
  18. ^ "Population & housing census 2001 (incl. area and average elevation)" (PDF) (in Greek). National Statistical Service of Greece.
  19. ^ "Digital Library EL.STAT". Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  20. ^ "Twinnings" (PDF). Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Retrieved 25 August 2013.
  21. ^ Ξάνθη: Μία πόλη, χίλια χρώματα.

External links[edit]