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A few words about Komotini:
Komotini (or Komotene Greek: ΚΟΜΟΤΗΝΗ)
is a city in north-eastern Greece. It is the capital of the periphery of
Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and the Rhodope Prefecture. In the Byzantine Era,
the city was known as Koumoutzina or Komotina and in the Ottoman Era, Komotini
was known as Gumuldjina. It is also the centre of the prefectural
administration of Rhodope-Evros. Also based in the city is the Democritus
University of Thrace, which opened in 1973.
The city is flat, built on the Thracian plain and next to the feet of the
Rhodope Mountains at an altitude of 32-38m. There is little urban planning,
particularly in the Old Town. Exceptions to this rule are the most recently
constructed quarters. Trying to abolish the image of a cluster of oriental
slums, the inhabitants of the city have been endeavouring to highlight its
European image. According to the 2001 census, the city's population amounts to
52,500, a number that excludes the approximately 13,000 resident students,
trainees and soldiers.
The city's history is practically contemporary with that of Via Egnatia, the
Roman road which connected Dyrrhachium with Constantinople and grew with that
trade route, firstly under the shadow of Maximianopolis and then under Ottoman
occupation, while the Christian element was acutely suppressed. During the
first Balkan War, Bulgarian forces captured the city, only to surrender it
back to the Greek army during the second Balkan War on July 14, 1913. The
Treaty of Bucharest, however, handed the city back to Bulgaria and Greece
decided to respect it. Despite various schemes by the residents to avoid
Bulgarian occupation, the city remained in the jurisdiction of Bulgaria until
the end of World War I. In 1919, in the Treaty of Neuilly, Komotini was handed
back to Greece, along with the rest of Western Thrace.
At the heart of the city lies the evergreen central park of Agia Paraskevi and
the open-air municipal theatre, which hosts many cultural shows and events
such as politistiko kalokairi (πολιτιστικό καλοκαίρι = cultural summer). The
Central square or Plateia Irinis (Square of Peace) is the focus of a vibrant
nightlife boosted by the huge number of students living in the city. The 'Old
commercial centre' is very popular with tourists as it houses traditional
shops and workshops that have long vanished from other Greek cities. There is
a Regional Theatre (DIPETHE) whose company produces many plays all year round.
In the northwestern outskirts of the city (Nea Mosinoupoli) is a newly built
shopping mall, which houses department stores, shops, supermarkets, a cinema
complex, cafes and restaurants.
6 km NE of Komotini is the Nymfaia forest. It has recreational facilities
which comprise trails, courts, playgrounds and space for environmental
studies. The forest is divided by a paved road which leads to the Byzantine
fortress and the historical fort of Nymfaia. On the way to the fortress one
can stop at the municipal tourist centre of Nymfaia and enjoy the 270 degree
views along with various refreshments/food.
Komotini has several museums including the Archaeological, Byzantine and
The population is extremely polyglot for a city of this size and it is made up
of local Greeks, Greek refugees from Asia Minor , Turkish-speaking muslims,
Pomaks, gypsies, descendants of Armenian refugees, and recent refugees from
the countries of the former USSR (mainly Georgia, Armenia, Russia and
Komotini is the administrative seat of the Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
region, the Democritus University (third biggest in the country) and numerous
governmental organisations. It has primary schools, gymnasia, lyceums, a
Police Academy, Army bases, 7 University departments, banks, a post office, 3
Sports centres, a train station (Thessaloniki - Drama - Alexandroupoli) an
Intercity Bus Station and several squares (plateies). Komotini also has one of
the biggest and better organised Industrial Areas in Greece.
The local museum is a window to the history of Komotini and the entire area of
Thrace. You can wonder around the numerous exhibits from all of Greek Thrace.
From the recent exhibits, the museum features Byzantine and folklore museum
and the agricultural straw objects agriculture and domestic uses in the
museum, basket makers of the Romas.
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