LAKE KERKINI STRETCHES in the northwestern section of the Serres prefecture. It is man-made and was created in 1932, following the construction of a dam to protect the wider region from the floods of the Strymonas River. Before, the region had marshes and a much smaller lake, the Butkovou. Works continued until 1982, when a second dam was completed, lead¬ing to the dramatic increase in the size of the lake, which now occupies an area of around 73,000 stremmas.
Today, Kerkini is one of the country’s most valuable locations. It is one of Greece’s 11 most important wetlands, protected by the international Ramsar Treaty. It is also an ED -protected region and is considered one of the major bird habitats in Greece. The flora is important in volume and variety, while the surrounding area, which includes the Ma¬vrovouni and Beles mountains, boasts an appreciable variety of permanent and migrating animals. More than 300 bird species, mostly rare or endangered, and some unique species of mammals have been recorded in the region, not to mention the many amphibians and snakes. The largest number of the e country’s buffalos live there.
KAVALA HISTORIANS, ARCHITECTS AND … other experts describe it as one of the most beautiful and picturesque cities in the world, mainly because of its unique architectural design. Small and large buildings scramble up the slopes of Mt. Pangeon, creating a unique sight encountered only in two places on earth. That’s why Kavala is understandably referred to as the second Monte Carlo. But it is also as an ideal holiday destination, combining mountain and sea! And do not believe for a second that it has only natural beauty to offer. Its cosmopolitan atmosphere is made of a mosaic of people, glamorous or sophisticated, down – to -earth or cultivated, snob or yappy, who together create something magical!
The lights one sees from afar indicate that this is a lively place. This liveliness is carried from old to new, classic to modern, and is the trait of its residents, throughout the centuries. The streets are alive with traffic and sounds, while the nightclubs shine with an aura seen only in Northern Greece! This is where Polygnotos Vagis, Mehmet Ali, Vassilis Vassilikos, Titos Vandis, Themis Kelekis, Anna Verouli and Kostas Hadjichristos were born and raised.
THE PREFECTURE OF XANTHI SPREADS from the Rodopi Mountains with the virgin forest and the rich fauna and flora. Between these mountains is the fertile valley of Xanthi, with the rich farm production. The Nestos River Delta includes the wetlands, the Vistonida Lake and the beaches.
The prefecture of Xanthi has it all: mountains, valleys and sea. According to mythology, it was the abode of Ares, the god of war, but also of Vorreas. The Vistonida Lake is also linked to Hercules’ labour with the horses of Diomedes. As proved by the archaeological finds in the valley of Xanthi, the region was inhabited since the Neolithic Age. The first Thracian tribes arrived in the 11th century B.C. The city of Avdiron was established around 656 B.C. and prospered in the valley of the prefecture. During the Byzantine Period, Topeiros, founded in the first century A.D., was the most prosperous city. In the 14th century, the region was invaded by the Ottoman Turks, who created new cities for the cultivation of tobacco.
Xanthi was the Christian centre and Genisea the administrative one. The latter was completely burned down in 1870. Thus, Xanthi became the administrative centre although it was twice destroyed by earthquakes in 1829. In 1912, it was occupied by the Bulgarians and in 1913, liberated by the Greeks. Nonetheless, the Allies ceded it to Bulgaria. Finally, Xanthi and the rest of Thrace became a permanent part of Greece in 1920. Nowadays Xanthi is a modern city, rich in history, traditions and customs, characterised by the peaceful coexistence of its Christian and Muslim populations. The Old Town, the traditional houses, the mosques, the old churches, as well as the neoclassical and modern buildings, are some of its major attractions.
The city has many restaurants, taverns and ouzeris that serve delicious local food. Xanthi is also renowned for its sweets and dry goods. Chocolate pastries, sujuk sausages, nougats, honey-dipped sweets, nuts, almonds, etc, can be bought at the old shops of the Old Town or at the famous Xanthi Bazaar, every Saturday.
THE EVROS PREFECTURE, COVERING THE SOUTHEASTERN SLOPES OF MOUNT RODOPI.
THE FOREST OF DADIA IS INTERNATIONALLY KNOWN AS ONE OF THE MOST im¬portant reserves in Europe. It is situated on the crossroad of Europe and Asia, on the migratory course of many rare species of birds. In addition to offering shelter to a large number of birds, it is also the home of different species of fauna and flora, from the Balkan Peninsula, Asia and Europe.
The forest spreads across the Evros prefecture, covering the southeastern slopes of Mount Rodopi. To the east, it touches the delta of the Evros River, an important wetland protected by the Ramsar Treaty. The two areas are internationally recognized for their ecological value and lend a unique character to the wider Evros region. The fact they exist so close to each other is of vital importance to many birds of prey, which feed in both areas. The Forest of Dadia is a typical sample of the Mediterranean ecosystem, formed through centuries of harmonious coexistence between man and nature. The vegetation is mainly made of forests of mature black, robust pine and oak trees. The dense forestation is scattered with clearings, turned into small pasture lands and cultivated extents.
The area of the Dadia Forest-Lefkimis-Soufliou, located at an altitude ranging between 10 and 650 meters, is a KYA (Joint Ministerial Decision) protected reserve since 1980. It is included in the Natura 2000 catalogue, while it is one of the only 27 protected regions of Greece with an administrative protective body. After the completion of the legal process pending for many years, the region will be characterized as a National Park. According to 1980 KYA, the eastern extension, included in the Natura 2000 network, occupies 43,000 hectares, counting two strictly-protected cores (7,290 hectares).
The Dadia Forest-Lefkimis-Soufliou area includes two municipalities (Soufli and Tychero), with a population of 11,000 that lives mainly of livestock farming, agriculture, logging and ecotourism.