General Information on Evros
Alexandroupolis is the capital of Evros Prefecture. It possesses the leading position in the geographical area of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, as it constitutes the main gateway between East and West. The coastal city is accessible by air, train, car and ship. Most travellers arrive here in transit heading east to Turkey, or to catch ferries to Samothraki or the Dodecanese islands. However, the city is a good base for exploring the interesting and beautiful surrounding area. It is located very close to Dadia, a very important archaeological site, the Delta of Evros River and the spa of Traianoupolis. Also, many seaside and mountainous villages with unique natural beauty can be reached from here.
History of Evros
Alexandroupolis is a new city and its history dates back to the 19th century. During the Ottoman rule, a small settlement was developed in the area and a railway line connecting Constantinople to the major cities of Macedonia was constructed. The work was part of a modernisation effort of the Ottoman Empire. This settlement grew into a fishing village by the name “Dedeagatch”. During the last Russian-–Turkish War (1877-1878), the village was captured by the army of Imperial Russia. The officers in charge put some effort into urban planning, with an emphasis on wide-street design to allow for the quick advance of troops. This was in complete contrast to the narrow alleys, cobbled streets and dead-ends characteristic of contemporary ottoman cities. By the end of the war, the settlement had returned to the Ottoman Empire, and when the railway station was completed, the village evolved into a town and a minor trade centre.
Ottoman control of the town continued until the Balkan Wars. On 8 November 1912, Dedeagatch and its station was captured by Bulgarian forces with the assistance of the Hellenic Navy. However, the Second Balkan War found the countries in opposite sides and the Hellenic Army managed to capture the city on 11 July 1913. With the Treaty of Bucharest (10 August 1913), though, the city along with the rest of Western Thrace was returned to Bulgaria. After the end of World War I (1914-1918) and the defeat of Bulgaria by the Allies, the city changed hands once again. With the Treaty of Neuilly, the Western Thrace was annexed to Greece. However, Bulgaria retained the right to use the port of Dedeagatch to transport goods through the Aegean Sea. When the city became Greek, it was named in honour of Alexander I of Greece, after his visit. Following the defeat of Greece in the Greek-Turkish War (1919-1922), forces of the Hellenic Army retreated from Eastern Thrace to the area of Alexandroupolis under the leadership of General Theodoros Pangalos. Bulgaria took the opportunity to demand that Alexandroupolis either be returned to its control or be declared a neutral zone under international control. Both demands were rejected by the Greek leadership and found no support in the League of Nations.
With the Treaty of Lausanne (24 July 1923), Western Thrace and Alexandroupolis remained in the Greek State and the previous agreement permitting Bulgarian presence in the town port expired. During World War II, Bulgaria, allied to Germany, regained control of Alexandroupolis from May 1941 until 1945 and the city suffered building and population losses. After peace returned, Alexandroupolis managed to triple its population in just thirty years.
Towns & Villages in Evros
Traianoupolis: Traianoupolis is a small town known for its baths and Byzantine ruins, among which are the remains of a Roman-Byzantine staging post on Via Egnatia.
Feres: Feres, the first town encountered when travelling in parallel to the greek-turkish border, boasts the important Byzantine church of Panayia Kosmosotira (the Virgin World-Saver).
Soufli: Soufli, famed for its silks, is a traditional centre for both producing and manufacturing the luxurious material. The town owes its distinctive architecture to the fact that its houses are used as silkworm as well as residences.
Didimotiho: Didimotiho is worth a visit for its Byzantine churches and small folk art museum.
Pithio: Pithio, on the other hand, is a masterpiece of Byzantine military architecture; the fortification walls surrounding the town have remained virtually intact over the centuries.
Orestiada: Orestiada, the last stop on the route, is a new town with an interesting folk art museum, having a collection of costumes, hand-woven fabrics and old photographs.
Beaches in Evros
Aghia Paraskevi is an organised beach, and Makri and Dikella are in beautiful locations combining sea and mountain, with lovely olive groves.
A large beautiful beach with amenities can be found in the western part of Alexandroupoli, where visitors can find hotels and camping sites, as well as many fishing taverns by the sea.
Top Things to Do in Evros
1. Mesembria and vicinity: East of Maroneia, outside Alexandroupolis, lie the ruins of Mesembria, a city founded in the 7th century B.C. Here, amidst nature, one can make out the circuit wall, vestiges of the ancient harbour, shops, workshops and sarcophagi. A peculiarity of this site is the walled settlement that lay within the city.
2. Makri - Cave of Cyclops: Continuing along the coastal road towards Alexandroupolis, one can visit Makri, one of the old staging posts on Via Egnatia, as well as the Makri Cave, which the locals call "Cave of Cyclops". Still unexplored, the cave had been inhabited since the Neolithic Era. A series of rock carvings in the vicinity testify that the inhabitants of the settlement have long been exploiting this place.
3. Evros Delta: To the right of Traianoupolis are the extensive wetlands of the Evros river, among the most important in Europe, both in terms of size and of the number of bird species. Three hundred species of birds have been spotted, including the last 15 surviving pairs of royal eagle. More than 200,000 migrating waterfowl spend a large portion of winter in the Evros delta. An effort to preserve this unique ecosystem is under way within the framework of the general awareness-raising of Europeans in environmental issues.
How to Reach Evros
Air: Alexandroupolis’ domestic Dimokritos airport, 7km east of town does receive occasional international charter flights. There are about four daily flights to/from Athens and during summer there are some extra flights.
Bus: From Alexandroupoli’s bus station there are frequent buses to other places in Evros. There are also buses to Thessaloniki (6 hours) and Athens (12 hours).
To/From Turkey: There is a daily bus to Constantinople (5-7 hours).
To/From Bulgaria: There is a private bus service to Plovdiv (6 hours) and Sofia (7 hours).
Train: Daily trains to Thessaloniki (7 hours), including one which continues to Athens and intermediate stations (14 hours). To/From Turkey: There is service to Constantinople six times a week.
To/From Bulgaria: There is one service daily to Svilengrad (4 hours) and ongoing connection to Plovdiv and Sofia.
Ferry: During summer there is a daily service to Samothraki. There are also weekly ferries to Rhodes (18 hours), Limnos (5 hours), Lesvos (11 ½ hours), Agios Efstratios and Rafina (17 ¼ hours).
Hydrofoil: During summer, there are routes linking Alexandroupolis with Samothraki (1 hour), Limnos (3 hours), and mainland ports to the west.
Getting Around in Evros
Buses and taxis available.
Top 10 Destinations in Evros
All Destinations in Evros
Map of Evros