Worth a Trip: Didymotiho

North of Soufli, Didymotiho is a sleepy place with some striking ruined buildings that speak to its colourful history. Break up a drive with lunch here, or get off the hourly Alexandroupoli–Orestiada bus to stretch your legs.

Looming over the town are the remnants of a Byzantine fortress that gives the town its name: twin (didymo) wall (tihos). Numerous eminent Byzantines were born in Didymotiho, and in 1341 Emperor John Kantakouzenis was crowned here. You can walk up the steep streets to the Princess Tower for a fine view of the Erythropotamos and the patchwork farmland – then up higher, past a hillside dotted with churches, such as the Church of Agios Athanasios, and many abandoned cave dwellings.

What you'll likely see first, however, is the enormous Bayezit Mosque, commissioned by Turkish sultan Murad I when he conquered the town in 1361 and briefly made it the Ottoman capital (it later shifted to Adrianoupoli, now Edirne, and eventually to İstanbul).The mosque was the first of its kind on the European continent. While it was undergoing needed renovation in 2017, a welding torch sparked a fire that destroyed its centuries-old wooden roof. Unfortunately the huge shell of a building is now concealed by construction fences – but what you can see of the building's ornamentation is striking nonetheless. Just uphill from the mosque is a good lunch spot, Thrakiotissa; the parking area out front hosts a public market every Tuesday. Another historic sight Erythropotamos, the 16th-century hammam known as the 'baths of love and whispers', is also destined for renovation.