Drama, Eastern Macedonia & Thrace, Greece
Drama, Eastern Macedonia & Thrace, Greece (Credit: Wikimapia)

Drama: the land of God Dionysus is dramatically beautiful

Glorious natural attractions, archaeological wealth and high quality wineries

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The regional unit of Drama, is part of the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace. Its capital is the hospitable town of Drama, built at the foot of mount Falakro, the highest mountain of the region, in a verdant area with abundant water sources. This lush mountainous region with its dense forests, natural springs, valleys, rivers, thriving cottage industries, wineries that are open to the public and delicious food deserves your attention: The spectacular 20-million-years-old river cave of Aggitis in Prosotsani, the Ski Centre in Falakro, the springs of Agia Varvara, as well as the World War II-era Fort Lisse, are all located here.

.AT A GLANCE

Regional unit’s capital: Drama Regional unit’s area: 3,468 km2  Regional unit’s population (2021): 86,621 Density: 25/km2 Climate: continental with cold winters in higher elevations and in the northern part while the southern part mainly has a Mediterranean climate.

.ADMINISTRATION

The Drama regional unit is subdivided into 5 municipalities.

.MUNICIPALITIES

DRAMA    DOXATO    KATO NEVROKOPI
PARANESTI     PROSOTSANI

.MUNICIPALITY OF DRAMA

Area: 840.1 km2 Population: 58,944 Density: 70/km2  Website: https://dimos-dramas.gr/en/

.HISTORY

Drama has been in its present location ever since the late 5th millennium BC. The ancient Greeks knew the city as Hydrama or Dyrama both meaning “rich in water”. Hydrama was notable as the place of worship for many gods of classical Greek mythology. A host of archaeological artifacts testify to the worship of the god Dionysus. Later known as Drabescus, the city became part of the Roman and Byzantine Empires along with the rest of Greece. During the Byzantine Period it gained commercial and strategic importance. The Ottoman Empire conquered the region in 1371.  From the 18th century onwards, began the farming of tobacco in the area, bringing great economic growth. In 1912, during the First Balkan War, Drama was occupied by the Bulgarians. In 1913, it was liberated by the Greek army, following the Second Balkan War. During World War II, Drama suffered a cruel Bulgarian occupation (1941- 1944).

.POINTS OF INTEREST

Macedonian Tomb: Dating back to hellenistic years, the tomb found in the city (near the Court square) is evidence that the area was inhabited during historic times.

Byzantine Walls: There are remains of the Byzantine walls originally built in the 10th century in the northern neighborhood of the city, around the church of Agia Sophia. There are also many parts of the walls scattered in the historic city center.  The northern wall is kept in relatively good condition.

Agia Varvara Park: A trademark of the city, an idyllic location in the heart of Drama, occupying an area of 6 acres. Its name derives from Agia Varvara (St. Barbara), the Patron Saint of the city. Fountains, turquoise springs, small lakes and rivers, cafeterias, performance arenas, and leisure venues where you can relax and feel tranquility. Traditional watermills and the multi-storey tobacco warehouses are Overlooking the Agia Varvara springs and lake.

Tobacco Warehouse of Hermann Spierer (now Hydrama Grand Hotel): Built by the architect Konrad von Villas (1860-1929) who lived and worked in Drama, for the Swiss-Jewish tobacco merchant Hermann Spierer (1885-1927), and his company Hermann Spierer and Co, the town’s emblematic tobacco warehouse is now a luxurious city hotel retaining many of the architectural elements from the 1920s.

Anastasiadis Mansion (Marbled house): Built in 1875 by the Greek tobacco merchant John Anastasiadis and faced with the famous local marble, the marbled house, with a tobacco warehouse and a yard space are the oldest and the most noteworthy historical and architectural complex which is preserved in Drama from the age of the Ottoman occupation. The tobacco warehouse building, which adjoins the “Marble House” has been restored and turned into an elegant hall where exhibitions are held.

Korylovos Hill: In the north of the city (600 m high) covered by pine-trees, it is ideal for walks in the woods and its majestic view over the city.

.GASTRONOMY

Clearly been influenced by the Greek Minor Asia migrants, from Pontus, Cappadocia, and north-eastern Thrace, the local cuisine will tempt the palate of every food lover. The famous potatoes from Kato Nevrokopi, get served simply skin-on, occasionally sprinkled with cheese. Try also soutzoukakia (spicy meatballs), giofkades (local pasta) and pastourmas (air-cured type of beef with spices). Don’t miss mountain tea, honey and walnuts from local producers.

.WINES

The region has a very rich viticultural heritage with its wine history starting thousands of years ago. In ancient times Drama was one of the most important centers of Dionysian worship- Dionysos was the Olympian god of wine. Many renowned wineries are located in the area (Domaine Costa Lazaridi “Château Julia”, Nico Lazaridi winery “Château Nico Lazaridi”, Ktima Pavlidis, Wine Art Estate, Oenogenesis Estate, Domaine Michaelidi, Estate Manolesakis, Oenops Winery, Erithro Rodo Estate), producing international award winning wines and are open to the public. The wines that are produced in Drama can use the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) Drama or the more general PGI Macedonia.

.FEASTS, FESTIVALS & EVENTS

“Anastenaria” (barefoot firewalking ritual): Each year on May 21, the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Saint Constantine and Saint Helen. In the village Mavroleki, the spectacular fire-walking ritual called Anastenaria, (the word for which derives from the Greek “anastasi,” meaning resurrection) is taking place. The participants, carrying the icons of saints Constantine and Helen, dance for hours before entering the fire and walking barefoot over the glowing-red coals, unharmed by the fire.

Dramoinognosia: Every May or June takes places a festival celebrating Dionysos, the god of wine, a festival about the history of winemaking in the area of Drama. The doors of wineries open to the public, winetasting, music, artistic events, lectures of a scientific nature.

“Eleftheria”: At the end of June or beginning of July, cultural events (concerts, theater performances and athletic events) are being held in commemoration of the city’s liberation.

Drama International Short Film Festival: Since 1978, Drama has hosted Greece’s leading short film festival, and the annual meeting place for filmmakers and industry professionals. The festival runs a six-day schedule in September.

Oneiroupoli (Dreamland): The dreamy Christmas Park of Drama is an annual festival attracting many Greeks during the winter holidays. The festival takes place at the central square of Drama and kicks off on December 4, which is the feast day of Saint Barbara, up until January 7. 

.RELIGIOUS SITES

Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) Church: Built in the 10th century, this tiny Byzantine church, located in the north-eastern part of the historical center of the city, is the oldest surviving building in Drama. 

Taxiarxhes (Archangels) Chapel: Dating back to 14th century, the chapel is located in the city center very close to the northeastern part of the Byzantine walls. The amazing paintings that belong to the era of Palaeologus, are characterized by freedom and spontaneity.

Isodia tis Theotokou (Entrance of the Theotokos to the Temple) Church: In the village of Choristi, about 5km from Drama, the church built in 1906 boasts six Icons by distinguished Greek painter K. Parthenis, who successfully combined freedom licensed by modern art with Greek spirituality and clarity,

.MUSEUMS

Archaeological Museum: Housed in a modern building, the museum includes noteworthy finds from the area, from the Middle Paleolithic period (50,000 years from today) until modern times.

Ecclesiastical Museum: Housed in a modern wing of the Bishop’s Mansion includes folk art icons, wood-carved temple doorways and parts of church icons, hierarchal vestments of the metropolitans, ecclesiastical vessels.

Museum of Photography: – Marble House: One of the best organized and most modern museums of photography in Greece – perhaps in the whole of Southeastern Europe – is preparing to operate in the coming months in the completely renovated mansion (Marble House) of the tobacco merchant Ioannis Anastasiadis. The first museum is the mansion itself, with all the original, structural and architectural elements restored. The second museum will house a large collection of 1500 cameras owned by shipowner Aris Theodorides, while simultaneously hosting various events and activities.

.ACTIVITIES

A little above the picturesque village of Volakas with its traditional Macedonian architecture, you will find the Ski Centre of Falakro. Winter sports enthusiasts will love it. The area is also a destination during the warmer period, suitable for other activities, such as mountaineering, hiking, paragliding, climbing, mountain bike riding, off road courses with jeeps and more for adrenaline junkies.

.ACCOMMODATION

There are many accommodation options. From luxury 5-star hotels to villas, apartments, guesthouses or agritourism facilities.

.TRANSPORT

The city does not have an airport. The nearest airport is “Megas Alexandros” of Kavala (about 50 km away). You can reach Drama by train, directly from Athens or Thessaloniki, by bus or by car.


TO DO & TO GO