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Drama Prefecture

Drama prefecture (Νομός Δράμας, Nomós Drámas, ) is a prefecture in northeastern Macedonia, Greece. The prefecture is the northernmost within the region of Macedonia and the westernmost in the periphery of East Macedonia and Thrace. The northernmost point is at the Rhodope range.

History

Prehistory

The natural wealth οf the city in terms οf abundant running water is something which all who have passed through the area have been moved by. Both prehistoric man and modern man have organized their lives close to the water, something which makes the area around the waters a link which unites the centuries long presence οf man with the modern city.

The oldest permanent human settlement at the site of the present day city of Drama was uncovered after systematic excavations in the prehistoric settlement of Arkadikos, which lies to the south of the Ayia Barbara park. From the mid 6th century BC this Neolithic settlement formed the first residential core of the present city.

Early Historical Times

Life in the settlement continued during the Early Copper Age and there were settlements there from time to time during early historical times. However, the core of the settlement from later classical times, according tο excavations, lay inside the Byzantine complex of walls which ringed Drama without this meaning that the size of the ancient settlement can be identified with that of the Byzantine fort.

The size of the ancient settlement, which in all likelihood was known as "Draviskos", can be defined as occupying an area with its eastern border near, the present day courts, its western border the neighbourhood of Nea Kromni, its northern border the area known as "Ambelia" and its southern border the Ayia Barbara springs. Valuable information on the topography of the area comes from portable archaeological finds uncovered nη graves, houses and buildings in the city of Drama. Continuous habitation of the area during Byzantine and post-Byzantine years and the passage of various conquerors have destroyed important sources of information about life in the city during the past.

Roman rule

During Roman times, the city was an important stop on the road network within the extensive colony known as Daravescos. From the large number of Gods in the Greco-Roman pantheon and local Gods who were worshipped the area, it is Dionysius who stands out. The worship of the god of the vine and wine continued until later Roman years and came Ιο be identified with the wc ship of the Roman deity "Liber Pater' in votive dedications which have beel unearthed in the wider area of Drama: the existence of a temple tο Dionysiu dating from the Hellenistic period is refeued tο, however, tο date its site has nοt yet been located.

During the early Christian period (4th -7th century AD) Drama was a small fortified town which occupied roughly the same area as the settlement from the classical period. Being the most important settlement in the fertile valley of Philippi, it was, in administrative terms, part of the territorium of the Roman colony of Philippi, the so-called Augustus Julius Phillipi. This colony was founded following the battle of Philippi in 42 AD which was decisive for the course of Roman history and the colony covered the whole of the area occupied by the modern day Prefecture of Kavala as well as large sections of the prefectures of Serres and Drama.

The colony became universally known with the passage of the Apostle Paul and his retinue through Philippi in the winter of 49 AD and the establishment of the first Christian church. The Christian community in Philippi developed gradually into a strong diocesan centre of the new religion with many bishops. The fortified town of Drama fell within this diocese, the size of the town approaching that of the area protected by the Byzantine walls whose ruins we can still see today. During the mid Byzantine period (9th -13th century AD) Drama developed into a strong castled garrisοn town with strategic importance and a vibrant commercial life while it continued tο belong tο Philippi from an administrative and ecclesiastical pοint of view.

The town was a fortified plateau enclosed by walls occupying roughly 40,000rn2 with a population of 1,500- 2,000 and home tο a military governor charged with monitoring the surrounding area. Written sources from the end of this Ρeriod which have survived give the names "Darma" (1172) and "Dramme" (1206) for the Castle which has links with the probable ancient name οf the place but also with its present day name.

Throughout the whole late Byzantine Ρeriοd (beginning οf 13th century - 1453 AD) Drama changed rulers continuously as did all Byzantine provinces. In 1204 it fell into the hands οf the Crusaders. Ιn 1223-1224 it was conquered by Theodoros Ι Komnenos Doukas, emperor οf Thessaloniki. Ιn 1230 it was conquered by Ioannis Asen ΙΙ, Tsar οf the Bulgarians while in the years 1242- 1243 and 1246 it returned tο Byzantine hands when Ioannis Vatatzis reconquered Eastern Macedonia.

During the first half of the 14th century there were disturbances and conflict as part οf the Byzantine civil wars between Andronicus ΙΙ and III Paleologos (1321-1328) and later between Ioannis Kantakouzinos and members οf the Paleologos dynasty (1341-1347). During these years Drama was home to empress Irene Μοremfatiki, wife οf Andronicus ΙΙ, who later died and was buried in the castle during the first twenty years οf the 14th century.

Drama first appeared as an archdiocese, independent οf the control οf Philippi, during the reign οf Michael VIII Paleologos (1258-1282). Ιt is thought that during this time that it developed intο an important ecclesiastical and military centre. During the years 1344-1345 it was conquered by the Serb prince Stefan Dousan. Reconquered in 1371 by Manuel Paleologos it remained in the hands οf the Byzantine empire until capture by the Ottomans in 1383.

Turkish Rule

Following the capture of the city of Drama by the Ottomans in 1383, it continued to be a small castle in the vast territory of the Sultan, cut off from Constantinople until the fall of the city in 1453 and from Thessaloniki until its conquest in 1430. Gradually, the Christians who made up 80% of the population even during the 15th century began to decrease in numbers due to flight into the mountains and the number of Christians there ίη the 16th century was around 40% with the Muslim population constantly increasing and taking over a large area within the otherwise Christian castle.

Heavy taxes, poor administration of resources and frequent robbery attacks caused the residents of the city to feel insecure and this slowed down the development of the agricultural economy until the beginning of the 18th century. However, according to the Ottoman traveller Tselembi the city began to expand outside the limits of the old Byzantine walls or the "Varosi" as they were known, creating new Muslim neighbourhoods.

Βy the 17th century a market has been created between the Christian and the Muslim areas around the stream which once crossed the centre of the city.

During the 18th century, however, increased agricultural production combined with the operation of small workshops and industries ίn the city gave the place a new breath of life in terms of commerce. Based οn data for other areas in Macedonia it is safe to assume that the population ίn Drama increased at this time, mainly among the Muslims, while the Muslim neighbourhoods both inside and outside the walls increased in size.

Nonetheless, poor administration and taxation of the residents by powerful landowners did not permit the real economic growth of the city. Even though Drama was the capital of a large region during the 19th century with administrative authorities, courts and the army it could not compete with the port of Kavala as a transit centre for the wider area. Major changes took place in the city following 1879 when the production and trade in tobacco brought about an increase in population and strengthened commerce. The arrival of the railway in 1895 and the improvement of the roads to the port of Kavala connected Drama to the large centres of the empire and the commercial sea routes. Large tobacco-trading firms established branches in Drama, tobacco storehouses were built, banks open offices here and in England there was even a vice consulate representing the city.

Soon new neighbourhoods we created around the waters of Ayia Barbara, and to the West of the walled area in order to meet the needs of a population which now reached 6,000- 7,000. The new residents, Muslims, Christians and Jews formed separate residential areas in accordance with the practice widespread in the Ottoman empire. The Christians whose numbers were constantly being added to by families from Western Macedonia and from Epirus in particular, numbered at least 200 in 1880 and they lived within the old walls and south of the Ayia Barbara area.

The Muslims were concentrated to the west of the market and the Jews settled in the area around the waters of Ayia Barbara. The new public buildings and private residences erected at this time reflect economic prosperity and the influences of European trends. The Greek community during the period 1870 to liberation was marked by its economic development, the formation of educational societies, the construction of schools and by its charitable bodies.

At the beginning of the 20th century as the population reached 14,000 and economic growth was continuing, sporadic violent episodes began occurring as part of the undeclared war for the liberation of Macedonia. The Bishop of Drama, Chrysostomos, town dignitaries and the people organized the defence of the Greek community.

Greek Independence

Following the troubled period of the struggle for Macedonian liberation and the first Bulgarian occupation, the city was liberated by the Greek Army on 1 July 1913 following 530 years of foreign occupation. The Bulgarians recaptured the city and difficult times were endured but following this the three religious communities in the city gradually began to form neighbourhoods where members of all three groups lived together, these mainly being in the present day commercial centre.

Drama finally acquired its Greek character with the transfer of populations which took place in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923. Refugees from Pontus, the western coast of Asia Minor and from Thrace radically changed the face of Drama after they settled there creating many refugee neighbourhoods around the old core of the city and strengthening its market. Βy 1928 Drama had 32,000 residents, having doubled its population in just one decade and among these people was a significant Armenian and Jewish community.

The commercial centre moved westward and north of the old one while the tobacco storehouses in the area of Ayia Barbara became the symbol of the modem city, recalling periods of prosperity for the residents thanks tο trade in tobacco during the inter-war years.

Following the war, Drama became the administrative, economic and cultural centre οf the Prefecture οf Drama. With so many activities gathered in the city its development looks favourable given too that the population is increasing with young people from the area, Greeks from the diaspora and economic refugees. Furthermore, with good connections to other cities in Greece and Europe and the imminent opening up οf the Bulgarian border, the city is being given new prospects.

Geography

The mountains are portions Orvelos are to the northwest, Menoikio to the west and Falakro in the northeastern part. The Nestos river is the longest and is to the north and east. The northern portion holds a unique treasure known as Karantere (or Forest of Elatia). The prefecture is surrounded by the prefectures of Xanthi to the east, Kavala to the south, Serres to the southwest and to the west, and Bulgaria to the north. Arable lands are located in the southern and the westcentral portion of Drama.

Climate

The areas that mainly get Mediterranean climate is at the southern portion of the prefecture. Its climate is mainly continental with cold winters in higher elevations and to the northern portion.

Transport

Museums

  • Archaeological Museum

Two exceptional works of art in copperThe Archaeological Museum of Drama covers human presence in the prefecture of Drama from the mid Paleolithic Period (50,000 years before present) with traces of life from Paleolithic hunts in the caves of the source of the Angitis, up to modern times (1913).

The exhibition space consists of three main halls. In the first archaeological finds from the cave of Maara give witness to the presence of nomadic hunters in the area from the mid Palaeolithic period, while other finds show us about the life of settled farmers and animal rearers from Neolithic villages and the passage of the Copper Age in the city of Drama and the village of Sitagri. The reproduction of a Neolithic house with finds which describe the activities of Neolithic man and his daily activities is the main centre of interest for visitors of all ages.

Bust of Dionysius, found in the area of Kali Vrysi. The same hall continues the journey through time to the Iron Age and later years where the main element was the worship of Dionysius at the city of Drama itself and at Kali Vrysi and other areas of the prefecture. In the second hall architectural sculptures, pottery and coins confirm that life continued in the city and throughout the whole prefecture during early Christian, Byzantine and post-Byzantine years.

The visitor is taken through modem recent history by a photographic exhibition relating to the city of Drama, the towns of the prefecture and the mountain villages. The exhibition covers the period from the beginning of Turkish occupation up to the middle of the 19th century. In the third hall which is roofed with an atrium, the visitor can admire sculptures arranged into three thematic groups. The first includes architectural sculptures dating from ancient times up to Turkish occupation. The second contains votive monuments connected with the worship of various gods in the Greco-Roman pantheon as well as local deities, with particular reference to Dionysius while the third group of sculptures focuses on funerary monuments from Hellenistic and Roman times.

  • Ecclesiastical Museum

The history of the Christian Church in Drama began during the Byzantine period and underwent difficult and troubled times. From the 14th century when the city was captured by the Ottomans until the 20th century with successive foreign occupations, the Greek Orthodox Church in Drama struggled without end, fed by the blood of many faithful, martyrs to the faith and to the Hellenic ideal and provided succor to its followers through difficult periods.

The collection of icons dating from Byzantine times to the 20th century forms the basic core of the museum's exhibits. The Museum of the Cathedral of Drama, founded during the reign of the honourable Bishop Dionysius 1st, is now housed in a recently restored five-storey wing of the Bishop of Drama's palace on Venizelou St. In the spacious and well-attended halls, ecclesiastical treasures of priceless spiritual and artistic value are on exhibition. The Icons of the Virgin Ηοdegetria and the Blessing Lord from the 13th century, icons from the 17th century and particularly from the 19th century decorate and sanctify the place. Moreover, the episcopal canonicals, holy vessels and their covers, many from the 19th century, relics of Chrysostomos of Drama and Smyrni, constitute the most important exhibits in the museum.

Many of the exhibits are relics brought by refugees from Asia Minor and Pontus in 1922 from the churches of their ancient homes to their new home, valuable reminders of who they were and where they came from. Organized groups of pilgrims and visitors to the city are advised to contact the office of the Diocese of Drama before visiting the museum to make arrangements.

International Short Film Festival

The Short Film Festival in Drama was first held in 1978, on the initiative of the Drama Film Club. The response of filmmakers, as well as the public, was enthusiastic from the very beginning. A few years later, the Festival was adopted by the Municipality of Drama and then, in the mid-eighties, by the Greek State.

The evolving of the Festival proved that a pressing need had existed for a forum for the presentation and promotion of the short film genre as an independent form of artistic expression. The experience of the past has contributed to the improvement of the conditions under which the Festival is held. In recent years, the Festival in Drama has established itself not only within the world of cinema, but also among the public, as a showcase for short films.

Both the Municipal Authority and the State have stood by and offered their assistance towards improving all aspects of the Festival. The excellent screening conditions and the new film theaters which are being prepared will complete the technical infrastructure. The Short Film Festival in Drama is a vital entity, that is forever evolving. The International Festival was first added to the National Festival a few years ago. It consists of an international competition section, as well as tributes to filmmakers from all over the world. The number of participants in the International Festival was most impressive from its very first year. Many young filmmakers feel that participating and winning an award at Drama will constitute an important stepping-stone in the recognition of their work, as well as in their future as artists. At the same time, the significant financial awards render participation in the Festival even more attractive.

Besides all these considerations, the warm hospitality of the people of Drama, who embraced the Festival from its very inception, the friendly ambiance and the contact among artists from all over the world, all contribute to the creation of a unique atmosphere, where what is most important is not winning an award, but participating and making contact with one’s fellow artists. The Festival feels very strongly that artists should not be cut off from the world; they are living, breathing beings that are entitled to have fun. After all, isn’t that what cinema is all about?

In August 1996, recognizing the importance and prestige of the Festival in Drama, the Ministry of Culture included it in the National Cultural Network of Cities. This means that not only is the Festival a part of a cultural network that covers the whole of Greece, but that it will receive funding from both the Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Drama.

The Festival is in contact with international festivals of its kind; it invites personalities from the international film world who can share their knowledge and experience with younger people, and organizes tributes to the film production of various countries, thus keeping its audience abreast of international artistic developments, and providing a forum for the necessary comparisons.

Thus, today, both the Greek and International Short Film Festival in Drama has evolved into a cultural institution of a national and international scope.

The Cave of Aggitis River

The stone composition of mountain Falakro (limestone) and the closed basin of Kato Nevrokopi that is in the north contribute to the absorption of the waters from the rain and the torrents. On their way these waters create an oblong but not straight calcareous tube, which is the cavern. The morphological study of the cavern showed that along its main development axon expansions (rooms) and stenosis (siphons) have been formed as well as décor with stalactites, which is reduced from the entrance inwards, and some stalagmites due to the flow of waters that usually develop on fallen rocks. The bottom of the cavern is covered with mud hang up. A visitor today can be toured to the first 500 m of this natural monument. The ultimate prehistory in the area of the cavern goes back 30.000 years according to exact date given by ?Dimocritus? laboratory of Nuclear Physics. The dates concern the excavational horizon of the intersection that was created next to the artificial entrance. The excavation took place there by the Inland Revenue Service of Paleoanthropology ? Spelaeology since 1992 brought to light, stone tools and animal bones (horses, deer, hairy rhino, mammoth). In the room of the wheel on the left bank of the river and on a small open and flat place (almost 10 x 12 m). Formed in two stages, installation relics from the end of the Neolithic period were found, that is the end of the 3rd millennium BC. Samples of the tool equipment and the bones, which came from the excavational intersection, are on display at the Museum of Drama. Opposite the Neolithic installation the water wheel, which was saved from the beginning of the 20th Century, makes great impression. Originally wooden and then iron the water wheel (diam. 8 m) with a smaller one (diam. 4 m) and with a system of build tubes covered the water supply needs of the area in the first half of the 20th Century. The creation of a modern water supply network since the end of the 1950s made the wheels useless. The preservation and elevation of these bright monuments of preindustrial archaeology is our obligation. On the right bank of the Angitis is an ancient settlement, suburbs of the Roman city of Philippi, consisting of extensive housing estates and a cemetery, which haven't yet been excavated. That is why you can't visit the places on the right and on the left of the artificial entrance. On the top of the hill over the natural entrance of the cavern there is a double fortification ring. This lime built vallation dominated in the northwest part of the plain and controlled the passings of the area. Future excavations will give an answer to a lot of questions for its origin. The election and exploitation of the vallation is already happening and in the near future visitors of the cavern will be able to tour the place mentioned. The natural beauty of the place surrounding the cavern is of great interest as well. The rich vegetation at the banks of the river which consists of plane trees, willow trees, popular trees etc, gives the visitors the chance to enjoy unique moments of peace, quiet and relaxation. The recreation places were created respecting mature and the shops help us stay there throughout the day.

According to tradition the surrounding place of the cavern is full of thousands of people every May Day and on the fifteenth of August. (Assumption Day). During these days there is a festival which is emphasized by hawkers.

The Cave is open every day (and weekends) Opening hours :

  • From Monday to Saturday: 10:30 a.m. to 17:00 p.m.
  • Sunday and Holidays: 10:30 a.m. to 17:30 p.m.

It is located 25 km away from Drama at the Prosotsani area.

Municipalities and communities

Municipality YPES code Seat (if different) Postal code Area code
Doxato 1001 663 00 25210-6
Drama 1002 661 00 25210-2
Kalampaki 1003 660 31 25210-5
Kato Nevrokopi 1004 660 33 25230-2
Nikiforos 1005 660 37 25210-9
Paranesti 1006 660 32 25250-2
Prosotsani 1007 662 00 25220-2
Sitagroi 1009 Fotolivos 660 34 23510-9
Commune YPES code Seat (if different) Postal code Area code
Sidironero 1008 660 38 25210-9

See also: List of settlements in the Drama prefecture and Slavic toponyms of places in Drama Prefecture

References

Sporting teams

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