Xanthi - Ancient Avdira - Vistonida Lake - Pomakochoria
When in Xanthi, one should definately visit the open air fleamarket that takes place every Saturday all year long. Fruit, vegetable, clothing and all sorts of useful things are sold in really low prices. The quality isn't always the best, but the whole thing is worth seeing.
Xanthis' folk history museum is located in a double mansion built between 1870-1880. The imposing residence, which today features all the original furnishings and is decorated throughout with paintings and ornamental flourishes, was built by the Kouyioumtzoglou clan, a family enriched by the tobacco trade during Xanthi's late-19th century peak. The mansion also features various relics and texts of historical value. The friendly staff will be happy to show you around.
One should definately visit the Old Town which is situated at the northern part of Xanthi; it really makes its visitors feel like walking inside a village in within the city. Numerous Tavernas, Cafes, Pubs and Museums can be found there.
Xanthis Carnival has its own history and route through time. It now has fanatic friends who wear their new costume every year and parade with the Carnival King all around this beautiful Thrace town. Xanthi is a pole of attraction during this period. Especially during the last decade there have been made important efforts and now, the carnival is almost equal to that of Patras.
The village of Avdira is located only a small distance from the archeological site of the ancient city of Avdira. According to mythology, the city was founded by Hercules in commemoration to a companion of his, named Avdiros, who was killed in one of Hercules's quests against the wild horses of Diomedes. The ancient city of Avdira was a major cultural and spiritual center of the greater Hellenic area during the classic period and the place of origin of famous philosophers and scientists, such as Protagoras and Demokritos respectively.
Extensive excavations that have been conducted in the area over the years have unearthed the ruins of a thriving, powerful, typical coastal city of the classic period. Numerous landmarks of the ancient city has been brought to light. These include a fraction of the city's wall and other impressive fortifications, flagged streets and alleys, the two harbors of the city, the ancient theater and a number of fine works of art and beautiful mosaics.
But the most significant landmark of the site is the ancient graveyard of the city which has been the source of very significant discoveries. The city continued to prosper through the Roman and Byzantine periods as is signified by the discovered ruins of the Roman baths and early Byzantine churches.
Porto Lagos is a seaside village located at the narrow land straits that separate lake Vistonida from the synonymous nearby bay. This is the land of mythology as Hercules visited the area in order to obtain the wild horses of king Diomedes. The fishermen still believe that the mythical capital city of the state of Diomedes lie at the silent depths of the lake. The greater area forms the combined aqueous ecosystem of the Vistonida lake and the Porto Lagos swamps and marsh-lands network.
The flora and fauna of the area is extremely rich and the landscape is a colorful combination of interchanging riverside forests, cane-fields and marsh-lands. From Porto Lagos the traveler may tour the lake and visit the monastery of Agios Nikolaos which is built on a islet at the center of the lake. The view of the lake from the monastery is majestic and the idyllic and tranquil landscape will offer a few peaceful moments of pure rewarding recreation.
Another very interesting part is the visit to the Pomakohoria villages, a group of isolated settlements populated by aborigines with different language and culture.
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