View of Xanthi

Coordinates: 41°8′N 24°53′E / 41.133°N 24.883°E / 41.133; 24.883Coordinates: 41°8′N 24°53′E / 41.133°N 24.883°E / 41.133; 24.883
Country Greece
Administrative region East Macedonia and Thrace
Regional unit Xanthi
  Mayor Charalambos Dimarchopoulos
  Municipality 495.4 km2 (191.3 sq mi)
  Municipal unit 153.1 km2 (59.1 sq mi)
Elevation 43 m (141 ft)
Population (2014)
  Municipality 70,873
  Municipality density 140/km2 (370/sq mi)
  Municipal unit 63,083
  Municipal unit density 410/km2 (1,100/sq mi)
  Population 56,151 (2014)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Postal code 671 00
Area code(s) 2541
Vehicle registration AH
Website www.cityofxanthi.gr

Xanthi (Greek: Ξάνθη, Xánthi, [ˈksanθi]); is a city in 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.[1] 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[1] (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.[1]


Xanthi is known as "İskeçe" in Turkish and "Скеча" (Skeča) or "Ксанти" (Ksanti) in Bulgarian.


Probably is identified with the ancient city of Xantheia mentioned in the 1st BC century by the geographer Strabo,[2] but was not mentioned by any other ancient historian.[3] 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 third century[4] and almost everything had been destroyed when the Ottomans conquered the region in 1361AD. 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.[5]

Middle Ages

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 Turks known as Eskije.[6] Xanthi is first recorded in 879AD[7][8] through its Bishop Georgios. From 13th to 14th century it was the most important city of the region. Three monasteries date from the Middle Ages Pammegiston, Taxiarxon, and Panagia Archaggeliotisa,[7] although written records indicate several others now lost.[9] Xanthi featured in the campaign of Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1327.

Genisea Era

Xanthi's clocktower.
Old town
Old tobacco warehouse, today a museum.

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. George Demetriou was active in the Xanthi area during the Greek Revolution of 1821. 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.[9] 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.[10]

Balkan Wars

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.[9] 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 Allies of World War I administration, on 4 October 1919 before being ceded to Greece in the Treaty of Neuilly (1920). 4 October, the day the Greek army under Georgios Leonardopoulos command entered the city, is celebrated in Xanthi as the anniversary of its liberation. Anthypolochagos Gavriel Ladas, who was from Xanthi lead the first troops in the city. Ladas became mayor of the city from 1959 to 1964.

World War II

On 8 April 1941 the 164th Infantry Division captured Xanthi following the German invasion of Greece and it was liberated by the Bulgarians. The city became the administrative center of the Bulgarian province of Belomorie and served as headquarters for the Bulgarian Second Army. The city was given to Greece in 1947 in accordance to the Paris Peace Treaties.

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 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. In 1972 the Greek authorities planned to demolish the landmark of the city – the clock tower, built by the Bulgarian pomak Hadji Emin Aga in 1870. This decision resulted in protests by the local Muslims and the plans were cancelled.[11]


The municipality Xanthi was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of the following 2 former municipalities, that became municipal units:[12]


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


Year[13] population (thousands)
1940 31,015
1951 27.283
1961 27,802
1971 27,040
1981 33,897
1991 38,808
2001 46,464
2011 56,151


Cultural events

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.


Ruins of the Byzantine Fortress.


Famous people from Xanthi

International relations

Xanthi is twinned with:


  1. 1 2 3 "Visit Greece | Ξάνθη". visitgreece.gr. Retrieved 2016-03-29.
  2. D. C. Samsaris, Historical Geography of Western Thrace during the Roman Antiquity (in Greek), Thessaloniki 2005, p. 86-88
  3. Δ. Κ. Σαμσάρης, Ιστορική γεωγραφία της Δυτικής Θράκης κατά τη ρωμαϊκή αρχαιότητα, Θεσσαλονίκη 2005, σ. 86–88.
  4. Δ. Κ. Σαμσάρης, Ιστορική γεωγραφία της Δυτικής Θράκης κατά τη ρωμαϊκή αρχαιότητα, Θεσσαλονίκη 2005, σ. 86–88
  5. Xanthi – History Archived 27 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. euro travelling.net. Retrieved 2012-04-05.
  6. Xánthi, at Ecyclopedia Britanica.
  7. 1 2 About Xanthi.
  8. 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
  9. 1 2 3 History of Xanthi Archived 23 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine..
  10. Νίκος Λιανός, αρχιτέκτων, Επ. Καθηγητής ΤΑΜ-∆ΠΘ. Μορφολογικά χαρακτηριστικά των κτηρίων της παλιάς πόλης της Ξάνθης. Ιστοσελίδα Δημοκρίτειου Πανεπιστήμιου Θράκης, σσ. 1. Ανακτήθηκε στις 2011-07-18.
  11. Таня Мангалякова, Нашите в Гърция, С 2011, стр.20
  12. Kallikratis law Greece Ministry of Interior (Greek)
  13. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 18 May 2013. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  14. "Twinnings" (PDF). Central Union of Municipalities & Communities of Greece. Retrieved 2013-08-25.
  15. Ξάνθη: Μία πόλη, χίλια χρώματα.
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