Separated from the Turkish territory of eastern Thrace by the Évros River and its delta, western Thrace is the Greek state’s most recent acquisition, under effective Greek control only since 1920. While Muslims throughout the rest of the country were evacuated by force under the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the Muslims of western Thrace were exempted and continue to live in the region in return for a continued Greek presence in and around Constantinople (Istanbul).

Nowadays, out of a total population of 360,000, there are officially around 120,000 Muslims, about half of them Turkish-speakers, while the rest are Pomaks and Roma. Although there are dozens of functioning mosques, some Turkish-language newspapers and a Turkish-language radio station in Komotiní, only graduates from a special Academy in Thessaloníki have been allowed to teach in the Turkish-language schools here – thus isolating Thracian Turks from mainstream Turkish culture. Local Turks and Pomaks claim that they are the victims of discrimination, but despite violence in the past, relationships have improved with each decade and as an outsider you will probably not notice the tensions. In mixed villages Muslims and Greeks appear to coexist quite amicably and this harmony reaches its zenith in Xánthi. All Thracians, both Muslim and Orthodox, have a deserved reputation for hospitality.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

11 tips for travelling in Greece

11 tips for travelling in Greece

Although the news has been full of negative stories about the financial and immigrant crises which have engulfed Greece in recent years, there are still many r…

06 May 2016 • Nick Edwards insert_drive_file Article
Greek food: 11 delicious dishes you need to try

Greek food: 11 delicious dishes you need to try

Greeks love their food. They love to eat and love to feed others; this is one place you’re guaranteed never to feel hungry. Unlike the typical British or Amer…

15 Mar 2016 • Esme Fox insert_drive_file Article
This summer you can hire a sandcastle butler

This summer you can hire a sandcastle butler

You’ve dug a moat, successfully sculpted a mound higher than your knees and managed to drizzle a viscous mixture of sand and salt water over the château spir…

16 Jul 2015 • Colt St. George insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month