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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Old Xanthi

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.

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