Xanthi is a destination with a rich tobacco past and a multiethnic character, a natural and historical beauty also known as “the city of a thousand colors.”
Spotlight on Xanthi
Xanthi is located on the foot of the Rodopi mountain chain, in the northeastern part of Greece called Thrace. The Kosynthos River runs through the city dividing it into two parts, the West and the East offering juxtapositions of old and new, yet preserving Xanthi’s traditional flair.
The Old Town: A Mystical Allure
The Old Town of Xanthi has a mystical allure. Stroll down the cobblestone streets lined with impressive mansions built with a blend of Ottoman and Neoclassical architecture. Admire the perfectly symmetrical staircases lined with flower pots leading to the main entrance of the houses. Homes here feature embossed doors of tile and wood. The corners of the old town create an open-air museum atmosphere, where guests find themselves marveling at the Byzantine churches and picturesque traditional squares. Here, buildings tell a story of the city’s history, and seem a world away from modern city life.
The Folk Art Museum is one of Xanthi’s main attractions. It is also the pride of the region that displays the city’s ancestral life including costumes, jewelry, agriculture tools, and more.
Tour the Municipal Gallery which has been preserved with much love and attention. Just further off from the railway station stands the Natural History Museum where visitors can wander through and discover the world of animals in their mummified version.
The Modern City of Xanthi
The modern city of Xanthi is a magnet for everyday modern life, filled with shops, squares, parks and bars. Relax at a café, browse at the boutique shops or eat a great meal at one of the many tavernas serving a variety of local dishes. The city has several European and Oriental confectioneries offering uniquely sweet flavors. Everywhere you turn you will be greeted by the friendly, smiling locals famous for offering guests with their Thracian hospitality. This is just one reason Xanthi is known as “the city of a thousand colors.”
In the city, the much-anticipated Carnival takes place in February. During Carnival, cultural events, theatrical performances, concerts of all genres, dance performances, children’s activities and sports events are scheduled.
In fact, every season in Xanthi is marked by an important event. When September comes around the Old Town Festival brings the streets to life with mandolin players. Numerous books and art exhibitions hold events with writers from all over Greece.
The Grand Mansion
Xanthi is the birthplace of Manos Hatzidakis, the renowned Greek composer and theorist of Greek music. In the 1960s, Hatzidakis received an Academy Award for the Best Original Song from the movie Never on Sunday. This was a first for a foreign-language film. Visitors can visit the composer’s home called the Grand Mansion.
The 18th-century neoclassical home was where Hatzidakis was born and where he lived as a child. The building was once owned by Isaac Daniel, one of the wealthiest Jewish men of the era who was a stockbroker and a tobacco trader.
The Tobacco Trading Industry and the Saturday Bazaar
In the early 17th century Xanthi was known for its prosperous tobacco trade. The grand remnants of this era can be found at the entrance of the railway station, where the old tobacco houses stand. These architectural titans narrate the past glories and the economic prosperity of the city. In the future, the tobacco houses will likely be developed into cultural sites.
In Xanthi, the highlight of the week is the Saturday bazaar where visitors can experience local flavors in a vibrant atmosphere. The market bustles with sellers trading their goods which includes fruit, vegetables, herbs, textiles, traditional foods and handmade artwork — a true feast for the senses.
Has the story of Xanthi enchanted you? If you would like to experience the authentic cultural side of Greece — Fly Me to The Moon will be delighted to take you on this magical journey to the city of a thousand colors.