Worth a Trip: Didymotiho

Didymotiho, a military outpost north of Soufli, is a sleepy place; however, its strategic borderland nature has endowed it with intriguing historical monuments. Sadly, many are closed to visitors.

Didymotiho was thought to have been built in the 6th century to replace nearby lowland settlement Plotinopolis. In the late 8th century it was briefly seized by Bulgaria. Shortly after, it served as a hinterland fort defending Constantinople. Its name derives from its once-magnificent double walls (didymo, ‘twin’; tihos, ‘wall’). Remnants of these Byzantine Walls stand in the upper town, near the Church of Agios Athanasios.

Numerous eminent Byzantines were born in Didymotiho and in 1341 Emperor John Kantakouzenis was crowned here. However, 20 years later Turkish sultan Murad I conquered Didymotiho and it became the Ottoman capital until 1365, when the capital was relocated to Adrianoupoli (Edirne, Turkey) in 1365. The huge, now-derelict Bayezit's Mosque was ordained by Murad, with construction begun by his son, Bayezit. It was the first of its kind in Europe. Though boarded up on our visit, the mosque's scale is impressive and restoration works are ongoing. Another historic sight, near Erthrypotamos River, the 16th-century hammam known as the 'baths of love and whispers' is also destined for renovation.

Hourly Alexandroupoli–Orestiada buses transit Didymotiho.