History Trip

The colorful city of Xanthi

Ξάνθη, η πόλη με τα χίλια χρώματα

Rich historical background, unique beauty, tradition, cosmopolitan atmosphere… Its attractions make Xanthi an overwhelmingly enchanting city.

Birthplace of Democritus, Protagoras and Manos Hadjidakis, Xanthi holds the secret recipe of charm. The combination of the distinctive architecture and its aura of old greatness, alongside the spontaneous hospitality of the inhabitants and the Muslim element create an impressive mosaic. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the city flourished due to the tobacco production that established Xanthi's worldwide reputation. As Beautiful and prosperous as the other European commercial centres of the time, the city acquired the nickname “Little Paris” for many years. Today, Xanthi is a modern city with respect for its tradition and historical background, while it preserves its multicultural character.


The Old Town

The most charming district and the most important landmark of Xanthi. The Old Town constitutes one of the largest traditional settlements in Greece, reflecting the city's past grace and greatness virtually unscathed. In 1829, the settlement suffered a great destruction, when two earthquakes struck the region, which was later rebuilt from scratch. In 1994, the Old Town was declared a listed traditional settlement, forbidding new constructions or modifications on the buildings' exteriors. Hence, the walk around the narrow labyrinthine alleys of the Old Town is a stunning journey through time. The restored neoclassical mansions, the old churches, the paved narrow streets compose a charming scenery of a unique atmosphere and remarkable beauty. Today, many of the impressive buildings that once belonged to wealthy tobacco traders constitute municipal property and have been turned into museums, libraries and event rooms.


The Carnival

For more than half a century, the Carnival season (Apokreas) is celebrated in the city, with numerous events reviving the cultural customs of the region. Don’t forget that Thrace has a long tradition marked by revelry, as the birthplace of the Dionysian and Orphic Mysteries. The festivities end on the last Sunday of the Apokreas with the great carnival parade and the burning of “Tzaros” next to the Cosynthos River that flows through the city. According to popular tradition, the effigy of Tzaros is burnt on a bonfire built from kermes oak-tree wood and placed in the middle of the square – otherwise, the city is supposed to face a flea invasion the following summer! The festivities have a different thematic orientation each year (e.g. in 2019 the theme was love) and attract thousands of visitors who come to Xanthi to participate in the events and experience the unique amalgam of tradition, history and entertainment. The Carnival of Xanthi is particularly popular amongst people of the neighboring Balkan countries, who often take part in the parade.



Xanthi Railway Station is located in the outskirts of the city and operates since 1900. There are daily itineraries both from and to Thessaloniki, and from and to Alexandroupolis.


Modifications or cancellations may occur to certain routes following government measures for the protection of public health. You may find more information on our website.



What to do


There are numerous options for nature lovers, as the Forest of Drymos, the Lake Vistonida, the Livaditis waterfall, the forest village of Erymanthos, and the Nestos River with its spectacular delta and gorge are located not far away from the city.


If it happens to visit Xanthi on Saturday, don’t miss the city open market in Eboriou Square, open from early in the morning to late noon. Apart from the diverse merchandise on display (from traditional sweets to folk art and carpets), you will be impressed by its multicultural colour, a place where Christians, Muslims & Romani co-exist in harmony.


Visit the neighboring “Pomakohoria”, famous for their cultural and architectural uniqueness.


Paddling downstream the Nestos River by canoe or kayak is an ideal suggestion for the fans of sport activities, a unique experience, with a water route of exceptional natural beauty.


The enthusiasts of gastronomy and special tastes will surely enjoy the local dishes, the famous syrup sweets, as well as the delicious cariocas (chocolate treats).


Manos Hatzidakis’ birthplace is a restored late 18th century house that combines neoclassical and baroque elements and has been declared a work of art and listed as a historical monument. It is open to the public and hosts cultural events.


Some of the aforementioned activities may not take place due to the measures for the protection of public health.


Xanthi In Numbers

1966 was the year that Thracian Festivities, the famous Carnival of Xanthi, were organized for the first time.


August 29th is a local holiday, since Xanthi celebrates the holy feast-day of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, the patron saint of the city.


The archaeological site and the museum of Abdera, the city which according to mythology was founded by Hercules, are situated 20 kilometers from the centre of Xanthi.


The 60-meter high Livaditis waterfall is located in the homonymous neighboring village and is considered to be the highest in the Balkans.


A complex of 57 buildings that once were tobacco warehouses -indissolubly linked to the economic life of the city- are preserved in the southern part of Xanthi.


The Lady of Thrace

According to mythology, the city was named after the Amazon Xanthi, who once ruled the region. Another theory suggests that the name of the city is derived from Xanthi, daughter of Ocean and Tethys.