The Municipality of Komotini is located in Rhodope Region of Thrace, in the North-Eastern Greece. The city is built in the Thracian valley and on the foot of Rhodope mountain range, in 32-38m. altitude, 20km approximately from the sea. It is the biggest among the 4 municipalities of Rhodope Region and its capital, Komotini, constitutes the capital of Thrace, the administrative centre of the Prefecture of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace and the head of the Democritus University of Thrace which has departments in all regions of Thrace.
The population of the Municipality according to the results of the 2011 census survey is 55.812. It is consisted of local Greeks, Greek re-settlers from Asia Minor and Eastern Thrace, Muslims of Turkish and Romani origins, descendants of refugees who survived the Armenian Genocide, and recent refugees, including Pontiac Greeks, from the countries of the former Soviet Union (mainly Georgia, Armenia, Russia and Kazakhstan). More than this, around 10.000 students of Democritus University live in the city.
Komotini today is a modern urban centre which is in constant development in all sectors of social life. The city of Komotini heads like a historically awarded centre of a multi-cultural route for centuries, initiating from the Byzantine ages when it starts shaping the multicultural identity that is maintained until these days. It has a rich folk tradition and an extremely elevated the cultural activity.
Rhodope is a typical agri-prefecture. Its economy is based on the Tertiary Sector, although the primary sector overhauls the rural surrounding areas. The tertiary sector is referred in hotels and agro-touristic lodgings and services in general.
Trade and transportation in the region is done by the National motorway Egnatia and the railway. Komotini is located next to Alexandroupolis (56km approx.) which has a significant port and airport. Komotini’s industrial area is located near the Eastern junction of the Egnatia motorway. The urban bus transport which consists of 5 main lines connects the centre of the city with all areas including the target area. The KTEL connects Komotini with other cities and the beaches of the region.
History of the city
Eastern Roman/Byzantine Era
The city's history is closely connected with that of Via Egnatia, the Roman trunk road which connected Dyrrhachium with Constantinople. In the late Roman and Byzantine periods, the city was named Maximianopolis. The Roman emperor Theodosius I built a small rectilinear fortress on the road at a junction with a route leading north across the Rhodope Mountains toward Philippopolis. For most of its early existence the settlement was overshadowed by the larger town of Mosynopolis to the west, and by the end of the 12th century, the place had been completely abandoned. In 1207 following the destruction of Mosynopolis by the Bulgarian tsar Kaloyan, the remnant population fled and established themselves within the walls of the abandoned fortress. John Kantakouzenos mentions the place for the first time under the name Koumoutsinas in his account of the Byzantine civil war of the early 14th century.
In the Ottoman Era, Komotini was known as Gümülcine. Its historical population has included Greeks, Turks, Jews, Armenians, Bulgarians and Pomaks. The city continued to be an important hub connecting the capital city of Constantinople with the European part of the Empire, and grew accordingly. Many monuments in the city today date to this era.
First Balkan War
During the first Balkan War, Bulgarian forces captured the city, only to surrender it to the Greek army during the second Balkan War on July 14, 1913. The Treaty of Bucharest, however, handed the city back to Bulgaria. Despite various schemes by Greek inhabitants to avoid Bulgarian occupation, the city was part of Bulgaria until the end of World War I. In this period, a short-lived independent state, the Republic of Gumuljina, was established in Western Thrace. Komotini was declared as capital city of that state. In 1919, in the Treaty of Neuilly, Komotini was handed back to Greece, along with the rest of Western Thrace.
Komotini is, nowadays, a thriving commercial and administrative centre. It is heavily centralized with the majority of commerce and services based around the historical core of the city. Getting around on foot is therefore very practical. However, traffic can be remarkably heavy due to the daily commute. In the past, a river used to divide Komotini into two parts. In the 1970s, after repeated flooding episodes it was eventually diverted and replaced by the main avenues of the city.