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MACEDONIA & THRACE

INTRODUCTION 

Visit Macedonia where you will encounter unique images. Explore this magnificent place in Greece where east meets west. The imposing – and almost perennial snowy – massifs of unique beauty boast Mt Olympus, the country's most famous and highest mountain, which is followed by the equally beautiful Pangaio, Kaimaktsalan (Voras) and Falakro mountains, where you can enjoy hiking, skiing or snowboarding during winter.

 

The water element is significantly present with some of the most important rivers and lakes in Greece flowing through Macedonia. Visit the metropolis of the North, Thessaloniki, with an intriguing multi-ethnic history and arty counter culture. It is a lively modern place, bustling with energy and verve. Built amphitheatrically around the sea, facing Mount Olympus on the distant horizon, it has always been a centre of different civilizations, cultures, nations and religions. Discover breathtaking Halkidiki with its clear waters and golden sand beaches, bays, little islands and green landscapes that will make your dream vacation come true! Don’t miss the unique beauty of Serres nature; the picturesque cities of Drama, Kavala on the East; and Kastoria and Naousa on the West.

Thrace is an area of amazing natural beauty, a land where Greek legend has placed the mythical home of Orpheus. It is famous for its pristine, beautiful countryside that makes it a paradise for outdoor recreation, adventure and exploration.

This part of Greece has it all: the Rodopi mountain range and Mt. Saos on Samothrace Island in the Thracian Sea; the rivers Evros, Nestos and Ardas; Lakes Vistonida and Ismarida; Dadia forest and the Evros River Delta where internationally acclaimed wetlands are located; fertile valleys, dense forests and endless stretches of white sandy beaches.

HISTORY

Present-day Greek Macedonia is part of the larger geographical region of Macedonia that also includes North Macedonia and the southwestern part of Bulgaria. The larger geographical region of Macedonia was under the control of the Ottoman Empire between 1371 and 1912. During that period, it was inhabited by such a diverse population—Slavic-speaking Christians, Greek-speaking Christians, Turkish-speaking Muslims, Albanian-speaking Muslims, Aromani (Vlachs), Jews, and Roma (Gypsies)—that it inspired the French to adopt their term for the region, “Macédoine,” to refer to a salad of mixed fruits or vegetables.

Greek Macedonia was created as a result of the Second Balkan War in 1913. The region was occupied by Bulgarian troops during most of World War I and by Bulgarian and German troops in World War II, but each time it was returned to Greek sovereignty at the war’s end. Macedonia was the site of bitter fighting between leftists and royalists in the Greek Civil War (1946–49).

The population of Greek Macedonia is heavily concentrated around the city of Thessaloníki, which is Greece’s second largest city, the largest port after Piraeus, and the administrative, industrial, and commercial centre of northern Greece. The vast majority of the inhabitants of present-day Greek Macedonia have a Greek national identity. In the regions of Kastoriá and Flórina there is a small Macedonian minority made up of people who have a Macedonian, not Greek, national identity. There are many more people in these regions who also identify themselves as Macedonians in a regional or ethnic sense (or as Greek Macedonians) and who speak Macedonian (a South Slavic language) but have a Greek national identity. Among the inhabitants of Greek Macedonia there are also Aromani (Vlachs), Albanians, and Roma.

In a peculiar way this modern administrative legislation as regards Thrace is a latter-day continuation of policies, albeit in a more peaceful and orderly way, which began in antiquity when Greek and Macedonian expansion and colonization pushed back the areas occupied by tribal peoples collectively known as Thracians.

 

The modern Greek part of Thrace, also referred to as Western Thrace, is a tiny remnant of ancient Thracian territory which stretched from north of Thessaly as far as the borders of modern Albania, eastwards along the coasts of the Northern Aegean and Marmara seas to the Bosphorus at Byzantium (later Constantinople, today Istanbul), and through the mountains and along the Black Sea coast northwards to the River Danube in what is now Bulgaria.

The Thracians had their own distinct language, culture and religion and produced fascinating art, crafts and coinage. The cult of the Cabeiri, ancient "Great Gods", appears to have its roots in prehistoric Thrace and was an important influence on Greek religion, particularly in cities such as Thebes, until worship of the Olympian gods became predominant.

The ancient Thracian cult mysteries retained their allure into Roman times; the cult centre at Samothraki drew pilgrims of all classes from slaves to kings, queens and emperors.

Macedonia and Thrace lie on important trade routes between Europe, the Black Sea and Asia and have been fought over since prehistory. It is thought that the Bronze Age wars, known as the Trojan Wars after the epic poems of Homer, were part of the long struggle for control of the Northern Aegean between the Greeks and indigenous peoples. From the second wave of colonization by the Greeks between the 8th and 6th centuries BC ever more of their cities appeared along the coast and on islands such as Samothraki and Thasos.

In some places Greek colonists drove the Thracians off their lands, while in others it appears that Greeks and Thracians achieved some sort of peaceful coexistence, perhaps from as early as the Bronze Age.

The ancient people of Thrace both influenced and were influenced by the ancient Greeks. Powerful Greek city-states competed to colonise the Thracian and Eastern Macedonian coastline in ancient times but were soon forced to turn their attention to the more destructive force of the Persians.

 

Philip II of Macedonia took control of this region in 346 BC but after the Roman conquest it became a part of the Roman Empire. The iconic via Egnatia passes through western Thrace, revealing the region’s strategic importance to Rome as a route to move trade and soldiers. Unfortunately, Barbarian tribes were also able to use this road and attacked Thrace via land and sea, weakening the Roman Empire. The Byzantine Empire absorbed Eastern Macedonia and Thrace into its epic territory following the fall of Rome and kept control of it until the 14th century, when the Ottoman Empire conquered most of the region. Due to the relentless marauding of Hun, Goth, Vandal, Bulgar and Cuman tribes very little pre-Ottoman architecture and few sites of Byzantine religious significance survive in this area.

 

The late 19th and early 20th century was a turbulent time in Thrace. Thrace was caught up in the 1877 Russo-Turkish war, the 1912-1913 Balkan Wars and the First World War. Up until these conflicts the population of Thrace was mixed with a number of Turks, Bulgarians and Greeks making up the majority and smaller numbers of Armenian, Romani and Jewish people also living across the region. But during the Balkan Wars and First World War, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey each attempted to ethnically homogenize the areas of Thrace they controlled. As a result, western Thrace forced many Bulgarian and other minority people out of the west of Thrace and into the east. This forced migration greatly affected the demographic make-up of the region.

CLIMATE

Average daytime & nighttime temperatures:

climate of macedonia thrace

Due to its geographical position and the length of its coastline, most of the inhabited parts of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace enjoy a fairly cool climate. The weather closest to the sea is mild and Mediterranean. As one moves north and closer to the Rhodopi Mountain range the climate shifts to continental. The temperature can drop below zero in the northern parts of this region during winter with lows of -5°c recorded in recent years. In summer, highs of around 30-35°C are common.

HIGHLIGHTS

GASTRONOMY

Seaside tavernas serve fresh fish and sea-food, while at mountain villages visitors should savour the local sausages and fresh meat dishes from locally bred cattle. Food lovers should not miss the great variety of appetizing mezes (appetizers) invariably accompanied with local wine made from choice grapes. Sweet pastries soaked with thyme honey are still made according to old traditional recipes. The region is also famous for its dairy products.

Lots of recipes are made with pork in combination with vegetables and fruits.

If you happen to love seafood then you can choose among a large variety of fish, either deriving from freshwater (trout, bass etc.) or seawater (bream, sardines etc.)

You wouldn’t call a meal, Macedonian, unless there is at least a pie on the table. Peppers, mushrooms, leeks, zucchinis, a variety of wild greens and feta cheese are all used in the delicious Macedonian twisted phyllo pies.

thessaloniki

THESSALONIKI

Bathed by the sea in the east and west, protected by mountains in the north and south and in its center, this place is flooded by plains and lakes. The Regional Unit of Thessaloniki stands out in history, monuments and beauties. • White Tower of Thessaloniki Lake Volvi • Thessaloniki Concert Hall • Aretsou • Axios Delta National Park • Church of Agios Dimitrios • Zongolopoulos umbrellas • Byzantine Museum • Statue of Alexander the Great, Philip II, Aristotle • Galerius Palace - Arch of Galerius • Roman Market • Rotonda • Holocaust Memorial • Aristotelous square • Eptapyrgio(Genti Koule) • Agia Sophia • Seih Sou Forest • Castles (Kastra) • The waterfront of Thessaloniki • Dassous Theatre • Kapetan Hapsa Monument

imathia

IMATHIA

A place that remains engraved in the mind and heart of every visitor… engraved with the unique images, the unique flavors and the experiences that this trip offers. • Nymphaeum - Aristotle School • Agios Nikolaos Park • Jewish Quarter (Barbuta) • Old Metropolis of Veria • Selio Ski Center • 3-5 Pigadia Ski Center • Byzantine Museum of Veria • Vergina - Museum of Aigai • Step of the Apostle Paul • Place of sacrifice of Naoussa women • Church of the Resurrection of Christ the Savior • Naoussa Clock Tower

kilkis

KILKIS

Where you will be surprised by the magic of nature. Follow the path starting from the stone path and the wide stairs and walk until you discover paradise: the Koupa-Skra waterfalls that form ponds in the tall trees and the small blue lake, where you can cool off! • Artificial Mine Lake • Botanical Garden • Dentra-Mouries Forest • Kilkis Cave • Archaeological site of Europos • Goumenissa Two Rivers • Byzantine Castle Gynaikokastro • Doirani Memorial • Lake Doirani • Panagia Axion Estin Church

pella

PELLA

Pella, the land of Alexander the Great, the great mercenary of world history (356-323 BC), the heart of Macedonia and its historical womb, since for years ancient Pella was the capital of the Macedonian kingdom. • Varosi of Edessa • Lake Vegoritida • Kaimaktsalan Ski Center • Archaeological Site of Pella • Museum of Natural History of Aridea • Edessa Waterfalls • Agios Athanasios • Gazi Evrenos Mausoleum • Kiupri Bridge

pieria

PIERIA

Tradition and modern life in harmony. • Olympus • Paleos Panteleimon • Orlia Gorge • Ancient Theater of Dion • Holy Monastery of Saint Dionysius • Platamonas Castle • Agia Kori Waterfalls • Alykes Kitrou • Enipea Gorge • Maritime Museum of Litochoro • Ancient Pydna • Elatochori Ski Center • Agathoupolis Wetland • Skoteina “Morna” • Katerini

serres

SERRES

Crossing the Regional Unit of Serres Mountains, rivers and tributaries, lakes and valleys, gorges and plains compose a landscape unknown to many. • Agistro Baths • Leon of Amphipolis • Alistrati Cave • Byzantine Castle Issari • Lake Kerkini • Ano Porroia • Aggiti Gorge • Marmariou Tower • Archaeological site of Amphipolis • Monument of the fallen “Rupel”

halkidiki

HALKIDIKI

The first thing that comes to mind are its beautiful sunny beaches with clear blue waters! With a coastline of 550 km, the options offered by all three "feet", Kassandra, Sithonia, Athos are endless. • Vourvourou • Ammouliani • Cholomontas • Stageira • Galatista Tower • Ancient Olynthos • Holy Monastery of Saint Anastasia • Grove of Saint Paraskevi in Arnea • Kruna Tower • Neos Marmaras • Thermal Baths of Agia Paraskevi • Aristotle Grove • Marianon Tower

mount athos

MOUNT ATHOS

Mount Athos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with its twenty iconic monasteries, masterpieces of Byzantine painting, relics of incalculable value and enchanting pristine nature is a top religious destination and a real paradise for worshipers. • Holy Monastery of Simonos Petra • Holy monastery of Dionysiou • Holy Monastery of Esfigmenos • Holy Monastery of Megisti Lavra • Holy Monastery of Chilandari • Holy Monastery of Stavronikita • Monastery of Saint Panteleimon • Docheiariou Monastery

kavala

KAVALA

Kavala is all about unexpected blends: History and culture, architectural landmarks and flower-filled courtyards, organised beaches and natural treasures. They’re everywhere… in the buildings, monuments, shops, food, archaeological sites and beaches. You just need to know where to look. • Go time travelling in the Old Town (Panagia, Fortress, Imaret, Tobacco Warehouses, Kamares, Old Lighthouse) • Explore a coastline of beaches (Nea Peramos, Ammolofi Beach, Ammoglossa Keramotis) • Unearth the past in a single archaeological site (Philippi - a UNESCO World Heritage Site) • Just don’t forget to pack your binoculars (Nestos River)

xanthi

XANTHI

Xanthi is popularly called the city of a thousand colors. • Old town of Xanthi • The House of Shadow • The Folk and History Museum of Xanthi • Livaditis Waterfall • Public Paint Gallery • Nestos Gorge Observatory • Balkan Art Gallery (Sanat Gellerisi) • Xanthi’s Old Town Festival • The Path of Life • Hadjidakis House

komotini

KOMOTINI

A religious and cultural crossroad where Christians and Muslims live harmoniously for centuries. The food in close-by Muslim villages is yummy. • Byzantine Bridge of Kompsatos River • Byzantine Fortress of Nymfaia • Tower Clock (Yeni Mosque) • Ancient City & Theatre of Maronia • Archaeological Site of Mesimvria – Zoni • Byzantine Walls of Komotini • Irinis (Peace) Square • Arogi Fanari Beach • Kagkeles Beach • Folklore Museum of Komotini • Archaeological Museum of Komotini

alexandroupoli

ALEXANDOUPOLI

The city of Alexandroupoli named after its founder Alexander the Great is the commercial and cultural hub of the whole prefecture, and the crossroad between Europe and Asia, both through sea and land. • Lighthouse of Alexandroupoli • St. Nicolas Cathedral Square • Zarifios Educational Academy • Cyclop’s Cave • Mesimbria – Zoni Archaeological Site

THESSALONIKI

• Bougiourdi: A food specialty of Thessaloniki – is like a lusty Greek fondue. A slab of feta is placed in a terracotta dish, splashed with oil, and covered with a few slices of tomato and slivers of long green hot pepper. Then it gets a shower of “boukova”- hot chili pepper flakes. The spicy feta broils until it gets crisp on the edges. • Patsas: This is definitely a dish for the daring. Calves’ hooves, tripe, and belly boil with water and salt. And that’s it. This soup, which has its roots in the ‘melanos zoumos’ (black broth) that fed the armies of Alexander the Great, has long been popular in Thessaloniki. • Bougatsa: The Greeks from Asia Minor brought many food specialties to Thessaloniki. Bougatsa is the best of all of them. Their way with delicate phyllo shines in these super-fresh pies. Bougatsa used to be just plain phyllo, because the phyllo was so delicate and delicious. Eventually, bougatsa got an upgrade, with fillings of cream, cheese, spinach, or spicy minced meat. • Sesame Begal or “Koulouri Thessalonikis: It is one of the healthiest sources of carbohydrates, protein and energy; making it truly tasty despite its simplicity. Your options on that are many: feta cheese, bacon, cream cheese and smoked turkey, raisins, chocolate or marmalade. • Trigona Panoramatos: Trigona in Greek means triangles, and the dessert is named after the triangular shape of the phyllo crunchy cones which are filled with cream • Kazan Dipi is a traditional dessert from the Byzantine ages that came to Thessaloniki along with the Asia Minor refugees. It is actually a milk pudding. The story behind the name of this dessert is interesting. When the Sultan asked his pastry chef for a dessert, the pastry chef burnt the milk. As an excuse, he introduced it to the Sultan as a kazan dipi. Kazan dipi actually means “the bottom of the caldrons” and nowadays it is referred as the creme brule from the Balkans.

IMATHIA

• Fasoulodavas: the most favorite food in Veria. Is a delicious plate traditionally made of beans. In those cold winter days try it with some handmade “tsipouro”. • Revani: It is produced and served in Veria with the same recipe from the time of the Ottoman Empire, and from then it is sold in the restaurants of Veria. • Zigouri meat with quinces • Sarmadakia with parsley • Lamb with orzo pasta baked in the oven • Retseli: This recipe was a smart way for the housewives to preserve fruits. Apples, quinces, apricot, figs but also sliced vegetables such as eggplants and courgettes;

KILKIS

The local cuisine is intensely multicultural. The Greek diaspora is concentrated on the table with all its features! King of all … the Pontian cuisine. • Fresh fish from the lake • Incredible meat from the local farms • Venison and boar • Homemade pickles • Milk and dairy products from • Koukaki factory

PELLA

Every corner of the prefecture has its own distinctive mark, which arouses interest and senses with intense images, unique tastes and the sweet smell of nature. • At births they made langites-pitulitses • Αt death pupkes (round breads) • Μacaria , a sweet made of rice or vermicelli. • Goulisnos with parsley and garlic • Grilled yellow pumpkin

PIERIA

The local cuisine in Pieria offers a wide variety of Greek, local and traditional foods, desserts and drinks. They are made from genuine ingredients that ensure healthy nutrition and tasty enjoyment. Flavours that have the beauty and aroma of oregano, parsley, basil, mint, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. • Meat-based dishes • Pies (Juicy grass pies with wild greens, leek pies, meat pies with goat or goat mixed with trahana and cheese, pumpkin pies, spinach pie, grass pie, sausage pie, prasopita, savoury or sweet bugatsa, milk pie, minced meat pie, cassava pie, chicken pie, cabbage pie, rice pie, onion pie and apple pies) • and fish dishes • Fresh fruit such as kiwis, apples, peaches and cranberries • Goat or goat stew • Pancake with leeks and pork • Fried forest mushrooms extinguished with vinegar • Cabbage (wild greens) slow-cooked with tender goat • Crispy egg balls • White-fleshed and delicious marmots • Fried squid, sole, cephalopods, shrimp, and sea bream

SERRES

Serres’ cuisine as a luscious flavor trip. It’s very rich and originates from Asia Minor, Thrace, Pontus and the Balkans. • Akanés (also known as “Lailia”): One of the most known sweets of Serres is Akanés. Its appearance is similar to lokum (Turkish delight) but its taste differs. The basic ingredients of this delicacy are fresh butter and almond. You have to try it when you visit Serres because you won’t be able to find it anywhere else! • Spirulina: A fine example of the quality and the nutritional value of Serres’ healthy diets is Spirulina. It is a small nutrient-rich algae with high quantities of protein, minerals and plant fats valuable for our bodies. • Buffalo meat, milk and kavourmas (kavurmak): Buffalo meat and other buffalo products (cold cuts, sausages, kavourmas etc.) are the key elements of the city’s gastronomic tradition. • Tulumba: It is a syrupy dessert whose basic ingredients are flour, eggs and water. You can enjoy it with different coatings such as chocolate!

HALKIDIKI

• Pie with wild greens and spinach (vegetable pie) • Trahano goat pie (trahanopita) • Pork sausage with orange and leek • Yalantzi dumplings • Chicken stuffed with trachana • Kassandrino Easter goat (dill, fresh onions, sour plums and rice)

MOUNT ATHOS

• Vegetables such as turnips or salad • Dark breads • Porridges, an occasional fish • Cheese curds • Ale, or mead. • Beer • Fish was smoked and meat dried to increase their longevity. As a rule, monks did not eat meat except if they were ill and on special occasions.

KAVALA

• Arnáki Thassou • Anevato • Anchovy wrapped in vine leaves (This is a sea dish that is preferred in the city of Kavala. With all the freshness of the open sea and embraced by the vine itseld, this dish stands out and is... full of summer!) • "Gouna" mackerel fish (Gouna" means "fur" and even fish wear it, although not the one you 're thinking about! Even though many fish can become "Gouna", that is dried-up or sun-dried, mackerel really stands out as a unique dish in the Eastern Macedonia region and especially in the city of Kavala!) • Skewered kiddling • Kavourma (Boiled chunks of meat set in their beef-tea gel with extra spices. What a taste)

XANTHI

• Lamb meat with hilopites (a type of pasta) also called youfkades • Pastourmadopita (made with seasoned and cured beef meat) • Prasokreatopita (a meat and leek pie which is customary to eat on New Year’s Day • Tsigerosarmades (lamb entrails with herbs and spices) • Roditis, Athiri, Asyrtiko, Xinomavro, Negoska as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc wines. • Tavouk gkiosou (the only pastry made with chicken!) • Muhalebi (creme with syrup made with rose water) • Seker pare (tasty biscuits made with semolina, soaked in syrup) • Soutzouk loukoum (a sausage-like confection with walnuts)

KOMOTINI

• Stragalia (roasted chickpeas) of Komotini • Pastourmas • Soutzouk loukoum, a very special product, which combines tradition and multiculturalism. • Tanosour (a soup based on korkoto, which is peeled and broken durum wheat from Pontus • Manti (a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef, in a thin dough wrapper and either boiled or steamed) • Hanum burek • Samali • Halva, tahini and petimezi

ALEXANDROUPOLI

• Kavourmas is a traditional Greek meat dish (You will discover it in four different flavors, characterized by the type of meat used. Beef with minimal fat, mutton with enough fat but with an extremely concentrated flavor, mixed with pork and beef, spicy with leeks and various spices. • Babo: is purely Christmas food. It consists of pork intestine stuffed with minced meat (today mince), pieces of liver, rice, chopped leek and spices. It was cooked in a clay pot or in wide chukas. Today in a shallow earthen pot the «yuvetsi". • Barbara's candy, which is a typical traditional food of Thrace. • Langites (crepes) • Petoura or yufkadis (pasta) • Blighuri (Bulgur) • grivadi here is called sazani, the goulianos, the largest predatory river fish, can reach 30 kg, while the sea bass and redfish of the Evros are excellent grilled or fried. Eggs from sazani and gouliano are used to make wonderful caviar meatballs. • Katsamaki • Frumenty • Hebrew trachanas is mainly prepared without milk, with yeast and vegetables and is usually slightly hot. But there is also the preparation with milk, with a milder taste, suitable for children. • Lambriatis Goat in all its versions (cooked, grilled, stuffed) is the trademark of Samothrace. Connoisseurs can also find it in the city's taverns. A typical traditional dish is Lambriatis: goat or lamb stuffed with rice, fresh onions, dill, raisins, small pieces of liver and salt. As its name indicates, it is a characteristic dish of Lambri. • Pumpkin pie, the most typical Hebrew pie. It is twisted, with a thin, handmade leaf and a sweet pumpkin filling. • Steamed reeds, the Thracian Sea supplies the region with abundant fish and seafood. Anglers can also look for fresh river fish from the Evros. A signature dish in the area is steamed cotton candy. The fish is steamed for a few minutes in a saganaki pan with a little water, pepper, lemon and garlic.

WHY?

  • Sea Tourism

  • Biotopes

  • Archaeological Tourism

  • Religious Tourism

  • Mountain Tourism

  • Forests

  • Gastronomy

  • Unique beauty boast Mt Olympus

  • Beautiful Pangaio, Kaimaktsalan (Voras) and Falakro mountains, where you can enjoy hiking, skiing or snowboarding during winter.

  • Unique beauty of Serres nature

  • The picturesque cities of Drama, Kavala, Kastoria and Naousa

  • Ideal bird watching spots

  • Waterfalls

  • Thrace, a land where Greek legend has placed the mythical home of Orpheus.

  • Pristine, beautiful countryside

  • Rodopi mountain range and Mt. Saos on Samothrace Island in the Thracian Sea

  • The rivers Evros, Nestos and Ardas

  • Lakes Vistonida and Ismarida

  • Dadia forest and the Evros River Delta

  • Fertile valleys

  • Dense forests 

  • Endless stretches of white sandy beaches

MAP OF CENTRAL- EASTERN MACEDONIA & THRACE

map of macedonia and thrace
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