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Culture Archaeology Archaeological Sights Settlements Eastern Macedonia and Thrace Prefecture of Evros Municipality of Traianoupolis

General view of the ruins of byzantine Traianoupolis. Few parts of the city walls and small byzantine temple remain, while the necropolis is situated at the east of the city.
(Photo: Pantsoglou Christos)

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02/12/2007
Traianoupolis

Aikaterinh Balla
Source: C.E.T.I.
© Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
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Traianoupolis has been an important, fortified city of the Roman times. Today, the city ruins are situated at the foot of the Aghios Georgios hill, east of Alexandroupolis and north of the settlement of Loutra. Founded by the Roman emperor Trajan (AD 98-117) on the easternmost part of the Via Egnatia, at a site of an earlier settlement, the city apparently constituted the new urban of the region, surrounded by smaller settlements of the vicinity. The identification of the city as the ancient Traianoupolis was provided by a Byzantine inscription found in Loutra.
The inscriptions and coins uncovered in the area bear witness to the existence of the sacred Assembly, the deme and the phyles, or tribes, a fact verifying that the Romans had preserved the Greek institutions of political organization. An active Christian community appeared in this ancient city of Thrace, already since the 2nd century AD, as it proves the martyrdom of Aghia Glykeria who refused to worship god Zeus. From the 4th through the 13th centuries, the city was an important administrative, military and ecclesiastical centre in Thrace, and between the 7th and the 14th centuries it was the metropolis of the ecclesiastical eparchy of Rodopi. It was fortified anew by Justinian I; in 1076, Nicephorus Bryennius was crowned king in this city. The monastery of Kosmosoteira that possessed significant land property in the city was under the administration of the metropolis of Traianoupolis since 1152. The city enjoyed a long and uninterrupted period of prosperity until the 13th century (1205/6), when it was destroyed by the Bulgarian tsar Ioannitsa. By that time, it gradually decayed and converted into a small town and remained under the authority of the Adrianople administrative region, or Thema until it was entirely destroyed by the Ottomans in 1329 and thus abandoned. However, after a short period of time, a small Christian community lived here again until 1347. It seems that a metropolitan was appointed at the city, though he was forced to abandon it shortly after his arrival. From that time onwards, it was deserted, as it also happened with the city of Mosynopolis. In the second half of the 14th century, it came briefly under the Turkish rule until 1433, when it was completely ruined.
The existence of healing water springs in the area, still in function, might have been the reason why Traianoupolis was founded in this site. Procopius mentions that the city walls were restored anew by Justinian (6th century AD), though a fragmentized section is preserved now in bad condition. The remnants of a small Byzantine, possibly metropolitan church exist as well as two icon paintings of the 11th and 12th centuries, depicting in relief a military officer and a saint respectively. Behind the building known as Hana there are bathhouses dating to the period of the Turkish occupation. The necropolis is located outside the eastern city wall, covering a large area that extends as far as the foot of the Aghios Georgios hill and further from the national highway of Alexandroupolis Ferres, towards the south. 13 Early Christian graves were uncovered in the wider area of Traianoupolis (shaft, tiled-roof and cist graves as well as a built cist grave), along with architectural members, abundant building material, inscriptions and coins.
The excavation of a grave tumulus situated between the settlements of Aristini and Loutra, NW of the city, revealed numerous finds of great archaeological interest. The research brought to light two early cremations (graves) with rich grave goods covered with cairns such as silver, bronze, clay and glass vessels, bronze tripod lamp stands with their lamps on, gold foils and a golden ring, iron items, arming equipment, etc. A silver denarius of Domitian, a Roman emperor (AD 81 96) dates the burials to the 1st century BC, the time of the foundation of the city. The finds from the grave tumulus are now kept in the Komotini Archaeological Museum.
A sundial of great interest, now belonging to the Archaeological Service, was found by an inhabitant in the village of Loutra. It is a marble sundial with a hollow surface and a base; its two corners form table legs bearing an inscription between them. A proper angle is shaped in its carved hollow surface to indicate the latitude, marked with eleven lines, each one of which corresponds to an hour. The vertical lines over the above-mentioned lines form a good diary. The sundial must have been placed to face south so that the shadow of the gnomon would cast within the lines during winter and out of them during summer. There is an incised inscription on its base reading that the sundial was dedicated to the Nine Muses by a person named Diogenes. Yet, it is somehow difficult to date it since it was not found in an archaeological site. It probably belongs to the period of the citys flourishing. It is now kept in the Komotini Archaeological Museum.
A large vaulted-roofed building known as Hana is preserved almost intact in the centre of the archaeological site of Traianoupolis. It was built by Gazi Evrenos in the second half of the 14th century, during the time Thrace was under Turkish rule. It was basically served as a station for travellers on the route of Thessaloniki Constantinople and as a guesthouse for those using the healing springs.

The archaeological collection of Traianoupolis including Roman sculptures and reliefs is now kept in Hana.