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Train and Rail Travel in Thrace Page 4 (see Greece train map)

Alexandhroupol i -Didhimotikho

29km north of Alexandhroupoli is the first stop at Feres (pop. 5,000), which is also the last stop before the highway bridge over the Evros into Turkey. There's a 12th century Byzantine church here with many frescoes from the same period. It was the katholikon of the Monastery of Theotokos Cosmosoterira. Beyond Feres, the lines passes pine forests and lowlands through the village stops of Peplose, Poros, and Vrissoula. Peplos is the point at which the highway bridge crosses the river into Turkey; it is sometimes possible to walk into Turkey from here, or hitch a ride across. More small villages follow, all in sight of the river. The stop for the Dadhia Forest Reserve is at Lykophos. Dadhia is a 35,000 hectare reserve with 36 of Europe's 38 species of raptors. The trees are oaks and pines, roosted in by rare and endangered black vultures and there are migratory routes for wildlife amid the trees. The black vulture (whose numbers have increased since the 1980s) has a wing span of three meters; the black griffon, and the single bearded vulture are among the other rare birds here. More than 200 species of birds have been recorded in this reserve as well as 40 kinds of reptiles and amphibians which are food for eagles and hawks. There is inexpensive accommodation for visitors to this forest: Tel. 25540 32 263.

After the village of Kornofolia, comes the town of Soufli (pop. 5,000), which has been a silk-producing town since Byzantine times. Though silk is still made there, the mulberry trees that the silkworms feed on are gone. In this town there are Turkish wattle and daub houses, once of which has been converted into a Silk Museum. There are also two hotels.

The Mandra stop gives access to some small villages in a wooded valley near the Bulgarian border at Mikro Derio; the rail line follows the river valley. The old wooden station building in Dhikmotikho, the largest town in the area, is now a youth hostel; the new station 1km below the town.

Didhimotikho (pop. 10,000) got its name from the double walls that encircled the town ('didhimos' meaning 'twin'), the town constituting the outer defenses of Konstantinoupouli (Constantinople), capital of the Byzantine Empire. Nearby, remains of the Roman town of Plotinoupolis have been found (some of the finds housed in the museum in Komotini). Before the fall of Konstantinoupoli in 1453, the first European Ottoman capital was in Dhidhimotikho. There is an interesting square here, named for its frog-shaped fountain-Platia Vatrakhos ('vatrakhos' being the Greek word for 'frog'). There is also a folk museum in an old Turkish timber-framed house. A modern cathedral overlooks the town, with the river in front and the cultivated valley behind. From the heights were the cathedral sits one can see parts of the old Byzantine walls. Up the valley along the Erithropotamos River past Kiani, is the beautiful hilltop farming village of Metaxadhes.


The rail line runs parallel to the international bridge to Turkey at Petradhes; stops at Pythion which has 13th century remains of a Byzantine tower fort and some impressive walls. The town isn't much to see, it's important mainly in its being an international junction with Turkey. Travelling north by rail from Pythion on the Greek side, one stops at Orestiadha (pop, 12,000) which was founded after the 1923 population exchange. Kastanies is a village situated on the wooded bankis of the Ardas River-a very nice place to go for walks and picnics. There is a road border from here through which one can cross into Edirne. Most trains north of Kastanies terminate at Dikea, though a few continue on to Ormenio, where OSE trains exchange cars with Bulgarian State Railways trains.

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