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gr; Agion Theodoron 103; 2; 10am-1pm & 7-9pm Tue-Sun) This museum exhibits Thracian furniture, costumes, old weaponry and, intriguingly, a fragment from the original Lausanne Treaty, which stipulated the Greek–Turkish population exchange.
Metropolitan Church of the Saints Theodoros CHURCH (cnr Konstantinopoleos & Orfeas) West of the plateia, this unusual red-brick structure contains beautiful icons.
Cataract Water Park SWIMMING ( 25520 28922) Almost 3km from Orestiada on the Didymotiho road, Cataract has various pools and slides for beating the summer heat, a disco, a bar and a bouzoukia.
Sleeping Hotel Elektra HOTEL $ ( 25520 28922; www.hotelelectra.
gr; Athanasiou Pantazidou 52; s/d 40/58; ) This friendly and well-kept hotel in a restored neoclassical mansion is just off the square, near the best restaurants and cafes.
Ask the helpful Ismini or Manya for info on nearby sights.
Hotel Alexandros HOTEL $$ ( 25520 27000; Vasileos Konstantinou 10; s/d/tr 50/60/70; ) Located near the train station, the Alexandros has breezy rooms with balconies.
Eating & Drinking Orestiada’s cafe-bars line Emmanouel Riga, between Konstantinopoleos and Athanasiou Pantazidou by the square.
Popular places include Bel Air and Social.
Safran TAVERNA $ ( 25520 29088; Vasileos Konstantinou; mains 5-7) Longtime favourite Safran does international-style taverna cuisine.
Sapore Cucine Italiana ITALIAN $$ ( 6932385040; cnr Athanasiou Pantazidou & Emmanouil RIga; mains 8-13; 10am-11pm) An unexpected delight in deepest Thrace, this new Italian restaurant features a short but excellent seasonal menu.
Try the tasty bruschetta, and lasagna with goat cheese or ravioli in wine sauce, accompanied by rich local wines (from Ormenio).
Friendly owner Ioannis is an innovator, as attested by the ‘Venetian’ tiramisu and chocolate soufflé with toffee.
Soft music and candlelight enhance the atmosphere in this classic wood-and-brick place with lofty ceilings.
Information ATM-equipped banks hug the newly refurbished square.
Hatzigiannis Tours ( 25520 28333; cnr Konstantinoupoleos & Emmanouel Riga) Sells plane, boat and train tickets.
Post Office ( 25520 22435; Athanasiou Pantazidou) Getting There & Around From Orestiada’s bus station ( 25520 22550), buses serve Didymotiho (1.
80, 20 minutes, hourly), with many of them continuing to Alexandroupoli (10.
60, 1? hours).
Other buses go northwards to Dikea (5.
70, 45 minutes, four daily) and Ormenio (5.
50, 40 minutes, two daily) for Bulgaria.
The Turkish border crossing at Kastanies is also served (1.
80, 20 minutes, six daily).
The train station ( 25520 22328) connects Orestiada with Thessaloniki, via Alexandroupoli.
International trains remained suspended at the time of research.
TOP OF CHAPTER Around Orestiada Some 18km southeast on the old road following the Evros River and railroad, the Byzantine Castle of Pythio (Pythio village; daylight) guards a tall bluff above Pythio village (Empythion, in Byzantine times), overlooking the Thracian plain and river’s dark treeline.
Built in 1347 by Emperor John Kantakouzenos, during a turbulent period of civil wars and Turkish invasions, it’s Thrace’s only surviving example of Byzantine defensive architecture.
Renovations continue.
Ask the fylakos (guard) for the key.
Even if you don’t get in, you can appreciate the castle’s grandeur.
If driving, a circular northern Evros day trip from Orestiada accesses intriguing, unvisited sights.
Drive west through Valtos for Mikri Doxipara, where a 1st-century- AD Roman tomb was discovered, with five interred funerary carts with horses and harnesses.
From here, turn north towards Kyprinos village and its Church of Agiou Georgiou, with icons and a very ancient baptistery.
Watch out for Father Nikolaos, a transplanted Cretan who may spontaneously leap into heel-slapping Cretan dance.
If it’s a weekend, stop further north at Pendalofos village’s game restaurant, Evrothirama ( 25560 61202; mains 7-10), for pheasant, venison or wild boar.
Otherwise, you’ll find other tavernas here and there.
After Pendalofos, continue to Petrota, northwestern Evros’ last village before Bulgaria, with vineyards and traditional stone houses.
The border road continues eastward through Ormenio (famous for its wines) and Dikea, before looping south back to Orestiada.
Some 19km north of Orestiada near Kastanies, the Ardas River Festival ( 25520 81140; www.ardas.
gr) occurs each July, drawing several thousand youngsters.
Top Greek singers, Turkish and Bulgarian groups, and Greek and foreign DJs perform.
Besides music, there’s beach volleyball, minisoccer, motocross, theatre and water-park trips.
Kastanies itself is a sleepy hamlet, and Greece’s northernmost Turkish border crossing; evocative Edirne (Adrianoupoli in Greek) is just 9km east.
If you’re feeling limber and travelling light, turn at Aegean Petrol’s benzinadiko (petrol station), walk east 500m to the border police checkpoint, and continue a couple of kilometres over the river and through the woods into Turkey.
Sometimes there are minibuses here heading into Edirne or its bus station.
If you are attempting the same feat from the opposite direction, note that the last Kastanies–Orestiada bus (1.
60) departs at 7pm.
Aegean Petrol has tickets.
EPIROS ΗΠΕΙΡΟΣ Northern Greece’s most dramatic terrain lies in Epiros, a place that will (literally) take your breath away, in the sprawling, impenetrable Pindos Mountains.
Bisecting the Pindos is the magnificent 12km-long Vikos Gorge – probably the world’s deepest (900m) – a national park filled with forests, waterfalls and ice- cold mountain lakes, surrounded by the Zagorohoria’s immaculate stone-and-slate villages.
South of these mountains, Ioannina is a fun, studenty city with character, unfolding around a placid lake.
Straight west, the Ionian coast features long sandy beaches punctuated by archaeological sites.
As with the Ionian Islands opposite, a Venetian legacy has flavoured the so-called ‘Epirot Riviera,’ especially at photogenic Parga.
Further north, Igoumenitsa’s ferries provide access to Italy.
Reaching Epiros is an event in itself.
The road from Kalambaka in Thessaly winds over the Pindos Mountains; from Macedonia, the marvellous Egnatia Odos highway cuts straight through them, into massive tunnels.
Note that this highway is infested with toll booths and bereft of rest stops.
History The Dorian invasion (1100–1000 BC) left three main Greek-speaking tribes: the Thesproti, the Chaones and the dominant Molossi.
The marriage of Molossi princess Olympias to powerful Macedonian king Philip II brought conflict with emerging Rome.
King Pyrrhus (319–272 BC) famously defeated the Romans at Ausculum, at a heavy cost; hence the concept of a ‘Pyrrhic victory.
’ The Roman Empire’s split in AD 395 left Epiros Byzantium’s westernmost province.
Centuries later, it became important after the 1204 Latin sack of Constantinople; Byzantine nobles escaping here established a key successor state.
Eminent Byzantines again fled to Epiros’ mountain fastnesses after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453.
Infamously linked with Epiros is 18th-century Albanian despot Ali Pasha, who kept a harem of 40
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