Thrace is mostly mountainous, and was first inhabited by Pelasgians, a race closely connected to the other Greek tribes. Thracians founded Eleusis in Attica and the mythical musicians Orpheus and Mousaios were from Thrace. In ancient times, Thrace stretched from Mt. Olympus in the south to the Danube in the north, and among its most famous cities was Abdera, birthplace of Democritos. Thrace continued to play an important role in history during both the Roman and the Byzantine periods.
A targe section of Thrace was ceded to Bulgaria at the beginning of this century, while Turkey took another part after the First World War (Treaty of Lausanne, 1923), while Greece was left with the Xanthi, Komotini and Evros regions, the river Evros acting as a border to the East. Thrace is largely agricultural, with around 350,000 inhabitants, of both Greek and Muslim origin. It is the most north-easterly part of the Greek state.
Xanthi lies at the foot of Mount Rodopi (219 km from Thessaloniki) and preserves many of its old traditional houses, as well as its castle on the top of the hills which shelter the town from the north winds. It Is the capital of the Prefecture of Rhodope and an important centre of production and trade of tobacco. 25 km away are the ruins of Abdera, the birthplace not only of Democritos, father of atomic science, but also of Protagoras the Sophist, Nikaenetos the poet, Anaxarchos the philosopher and Hecateos the historian, among other famous men. At the site of the ancient city have been found remains of the walls and of a big building with some 26 rooms.
The town of Komotini is situated at a distance of 57 km from Xanthi. It Is built almost the middle of a fertile plain, close to the famous Via Egnatia of ancient times, at the foot of Mount Rhodope. It has, among other things, interesting museums (Archaeological, Folk Art and Byzantine ecclesiastic). Komotini is a lively commercial centre and Porto Lago (34 km. southwest) is its sea outlet.
Porto Lago is situated on a narrow strip of land between the Gulf of Vlstoni and the Vistoni Lagoon. Its area is famous for the water-fowl, fish and eels.
Alexandroupolis (341 km from Thessaloniki via Amphipolis) is one of the new towns of Greece, and its most easterly port in the north. Its visitors enjoy modern amenities, such as comfortable hotels, camping sites, good restaurants and sandy beaches. Alexandroupolis is the capital of the Prefecture of Evros, and the last important town of Greece before reaching the Turkish border. Its area is abounding in game-birds and especially in water-fowl and migratory birds. So it attracts many sportsmen every hunting period.