Located in the heart of Xanthi, the old town is a pole of attraction in a wider geographic region that attracts cultural, historic and ecological attention.
The settlement’s preserved characteristics mostly reflect the 19th century, with the building process having started during its third decade (1830), as seen by the Christian churches around which the first settlements were established. The years between 1870-1910 represent a period of rapid growth as the city emerges into a commercial, administrative and military centre of a growing region whose economy is mostly based on the development of tobacco cultivation. The economic activities related to tobacco growth and commerce are to mark and seal the development of the settlement. During this period of development, tobacco producers of Epirus and Macedonia move to the city and the Greek element propelled upwards in the local economic and social life. Greek store-owners built the mansions that are still intact and the Greek community re-built schools and churches. At the heart of the city, trade, administrative and industrial projects develop steadily.
Today, about 3,800 persons reside in the Old Town of Xanthi. Approximately 46% of the households moved there from other areas of the city during the twenty-year period of 1951-1971, while another 27% moved there from the mountain areas of the Prefecture of Xanthi between 1971 and 1991.
The need to develop a programme for the protection, restoration and upgrading of the Old Town in the near future arose from the area’s cultural and historic significance, as well as from the troublesome living conditions, such as the locals’ inability to preserve and maintain the remaining houses and by the area’s growing tourism. The programme’s targets should be focused on five basic axes , such as the maintenance of the overall housing project’s character, through the creation of public benefit networks, the preservation of the natural habitat and the eradication of the negative elements that have altered the local community’s character, the improvement of the living conditions and the creation of a complete documentation of the remaining restored buildings.
In creating the aforementioned targets, the complete restoration study was funded by the First Community Support Programme and was completed in 1993.Its overall application was submitted to and was funded in part by the Second Community Support Programme in the framework of various programs, such as URBAN II, INTERREG II, . Concurrently, a series of independent support programs are taking place, concerning the continuing education of Technicians, Restorators, and Labourers, which are also funded by the European Union ( EKT, PACTE, etc.)
The significance of this effort and its results were visible to all. In October of 1996, the municipality was awarded at Lisbon, Portugal with a plaque for its strategy and projects in the framework of Europe’s Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign.
The Mayor of Xanthi, Philippos Amoirides,
receiving the honorary plaque in Lisbon.
The Old Town’s centre is Metropolis Square, around which are the city’s most significant buildings as well as the largest auto routes. It also features a number of churches, such as Timios Prodromos, Akathistos Hymnos, Pammegiston Taxiarhon, St.George and St. Vlasios.
Aside from the churches, other significant buildings of Xanthi’s’ Old Town are: