Tourist Destination of Municipality of Sapes
© Region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace
The Municipality of Sapes is the second largest and most populous municipality of the Prefecture of Rodopi after the Municipality of Komotini. It covers and area of 264 km2 and has a population of 8,572 inhabitants. The municipality was pleased to receive a large part of the Greeks of the former Soviet Union, in the hope of finding a solution to the problem of its continuously decreasing population. The area, however, continues to be plagued by unemployment because no workplaces have been created and increasingly fewer locals are occupied in agriculture and livestock farming, while people are heading to urban centres en masse. The villages are inhabited solely by people of old age. In addition to Sapes, primary schools only operate in Arisvi and Arsakio. The municipality consists of the villages: Arisvi, Arsakio, Lofario, Evrenos, Protato, Amfia, Krovili, Velkio, Dioni, Nea Santa, Chamilo, Strymi, Iassio, Aetokoryfi, Tsifliki, Aetolofos, Kizari, Kassitera and Petrota. The municipality is seated at Sapes, which is mentioned in the works of many great authors, historians and geographers. Its name may come from the “Sapaioi”, a Thracian tribe that is cited in the texts of Herodotus and Pausanias. The area of Sapes is the auriferous land of the “Sintioi or Sarioi” cited by Lucian and Strabo. According to another more prevalent scenario, the name came from “Sap”, which means “alum” and represents the sodium sulphate that locals used for tanning. According to Pukevil, an alum mine operated in Sapes during the 19th century.
The area of Sapes has known many conquerors: Romans, Ottomans, Turks, Bulgarians. Sapes was subjugated to the Ottomans in 1361. Like the rest of Thrace it was liberated on 14 May 1920.
The landscape’s relief in the area of Sapes is soothing to the spirit. In carving out the mountain and the sea, the rocks and caves, the verdurous hills with pines, arbutus and oaks and the plain, nature has created a number of enchanting retreats.
The area’s identity is highlighted at the multi-cultural festival held by the Municipality of Sapes every May. Visitors may be accommodated at the municipality’s tourist facilities. The modern municipal hotel on the bright green hill “Dendraki” affords comfort and panoramic views. The landscape’s beauty is complemented by the municipal eco-tourism lodgings in the area of Kassitera, which accommodates lovers of a natural way of life. The Holy Church of St Demetrius, which dates from the 19th century, is also situated here.
The beach of Petrota is situated at Petrota and attracts many underwater fishermen. The campsite of Petrota is run by the Municipality of Sapes and may accommodate up to 80 people. This is also the site of the black pine forest and the imposing “rock of Petrota”, which was inhabited since the Neolithic Age, when it is believed that the area was mined. Tools that have been found in the area are at least 100 thousand years old. Although the Neolithic quarry is not operated as tourist attraction, it is one of the area’s most important sites. The municipality’s other sights include the six-arched Roman bridge at river Lissos, the unexplored caves of Strymi (which were also inhabited during the Neolithic Age), the unutilised Byzantine castle in Nea Santa and the sanctuary of the Thracian Ipeas in the same area. A visit to the wooded landscape of Kizari is also recommended.