Alexandroupolis is a city in Greece and the capital of the Evros regional unit in East Macedonia and Thrace. It is an important port and commercial center of northeastern Greece.
Alexandroupoli is one of the newest cities in Greece, as it was only a fishing village until the late 19th century. However, the modern city is located at the site of ancient Sale, a Greek city of the classical era founded by colonists from the island of Samothrace that is mentioned by Herodotus.
Alexandroupolis benefits from its position at the centre of land and sea routes connecting Greece with Turkey. Landmarks in Alexandroupoli include the city’s lighthouse in the port, the archaeological sites of Mesimvria Zone and Maroneia stretching out to the small port of Agios Charalambos, the city’s waterfront (center of commercial activity) and the nearby Evros Delta.
The modern city was founded in the middle of the 19th century (when what is now northeastern Greece was still under the rule of the Ottoman Empire) by fishermen from the villages of Makri and Maroneia and it became known as Dedeagach. According to the legend, the name was based on a wise old Turkish man or dede who spent much of his time in the shade of a local tree (in Turkish ağaç) and was eventually buried beside it. In 1920, the King of Greece, Alexander I, visited the city, and the local authorities decided to rename the city Alexandroupolis (“city of Alexander”), in the Greek King’s honour. The request was duly approved by the central Greek government, and Alexandroupoli has been the city’s name ever since.
Alexandroupolis is about 14.5 km (9.0 mi) west of the delta of the river Evros, 40 km from the border with Turkey, 346 km (215 mi) from Thessaloniki on the newly constructed Egnatia highway, and 750 km (470 mi) from Athens. Around the city one finds small fishing villages like Makri and Dikella to the west, and suburban Maistros, Apalos, Antheia, Aristino, Nipsa, Loutra to the east, while north of the city are the ever closing Palagia, Abantas, Aissymi and Kirkas. At the 2001 census, the main city had a population of 48,885 and the municipal unit had a population of 52,720. The current metropolitan population is estimated at around 70,000 inhabitants, and its area covers the southern portion of the regional unit, running from the Rhodope regional unit to the Evros Delta. The municipality has a land area of 1,220 km² (468.73 sq mi). Besides Alexandroúpolis, its other largest settlements are the villages of Mákri (pop. 820), Ávas (497), Sykorráchi (309), Aisými (289), and Díkella (288).
Alexandroupolis is served by Dimokritos International Airport (IATA:AXD) in the suburbs of Apalos, about 6 km from Alexandroupoli city centre. It is one of the busiest airports in Greece and a main hub for Olympic Airways and Aegean; there are 6 daily flights to Athens, and also flights to Crete, while during the summer months some seasonal flights operate to\from Germany and Russia. The airport is connected to the city by highway, taxi services and scheduled bus services. The port of Alexandroupolis has been used principally by travellers. There are daily services to the Island of Samothraki and a weekly Trans-Aegean service to all the eastern islands of the Aegean, with the final destination of the island of Rhodes.
Alexandroupolis has two train stations: Alexandroupoli and Alexandroupoli Port. Both are served by trains to Thessaloniki and to Dikaia. There is an extensive network of train and bus replacements services throughout the region of Evros. There were railway connections to Burgas in Bulgaria and to Edirne and Istanbul in Turkey, but those were suspended.
The bus network is much more extensive and frequent. Hourly buses to the major municipalities within Macedonia and Thrace offered from the Regional Coaches KTEL as well as daily services to Bulgaria and Turkey. OSE-Varan and Ulusoy have daily services to Istanbul and Athens each and depart from Alexandroupolis Railway Station in early mornings.