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Discovering The Delights Of Drama

As if the Bulgarian landscape and diverse cultural activities were not enough, there is a wealth of interesting and contrasting cultures just a short drive over the border. If

history of a classical nature combined with some of the world's most dramatic architecture, historical myths and legends and of course, interesting cuisine is to your taste, then Greece will not disappoint. This most ancient of countries is less then 200km from Bulgaria's capital city Sofia. Drama is located in the northeastern part of Greece, and the municipality has a population of approximately 55,632. Drama - the capital of this municipality - has the majority share of the population, approximately 42,501 inhabitants. Being the 12th largest municipality in the whole of Greece, this substantial town has plenty to offer today's inquisitive tourist.

 

Industrial Heritage

Drama is the backbone of the municipality's economic and industrial output, these include paper and textile industries. Sadly these industries are not as prevalent as they once were, as they have lost out to neighbouring Bulgaria. The loss of these once strong industries has had a substantial effect on Drama's economy, although more traditional methods of industry like farming, tobacco plantations and the mining of marble still prevail. It is these smaller scale industries that take advantage of the lands natural resources, which are attracting yet another economic asset, tourism. More importantly, the emerging eco tourism market is making a greater impact upon this fascinating area of Greece.

Getting There

Drama is best visited by bus as the bus terminal is situated only three minutes out of the centre, near Plateia Elefterias, which translates as Freedom Square. Coach travel is certainly the most cost-efficient way to cross the border, as it starts at about 18 Euros for a single ticket. Drama's railway station is only a 10-minute walk from the town centre. Kavala airport also has regular flights and a bus service into Drama. Another reasonably priced way to reach Drama is by car via the Egnatia freeway; however, if travelling by car, it is important to bear in mind additional car parking costs as well as parking availability.

Culture

Like many other European countries - including Bulgaria - Drama is keen to promote year-round tourism by exploiting its natural geographical assets. Despite a warm summer climate, Drama does have a cold winter, which facilitates great skiing and this has resulted in a fast developing modern ski resort on the nearby Mount Falakro. For those who prefer less physically challenging pursuits, Drama hosts its own annual short film festival. It is not just the centre of Drama, which will captivate curious tourists. One of the best things about the municipality is the outstanding natural beauty of its environs. Whilst these parts are harder to reach, as most transport will take visitors to the city centre, these areas will prove most rewarding. Just one visit to Drama will confirm that this fascinating and undiscovered part of Greece does not get the recognition it so richly deserves, and visiting by car will give you the flexibility to discover the inherent jewels of this region for yourself.

Café Society

Drama is well known for its nightlife, which attracts many people from the surrounding villages and cities. If you are thinking of seeing a part of Greece that has not been over-developed through tourism, then this area is perfect. In the city there are intimate tavernas and Ouzo palaces as well as lively nightclubs and exclusive cafe-bars. Given the size of the city, there is plenty of night entertainment to suit all tastes. Drama has many grand and luxurious coffee houses, and a coffee and light lunch is an absolute must. Do eat at a local taverna, which serves up locally produced food. Drama's yet-to-be-discovered reputation means that refreshments are noticeably cheaper than other typically tourist focussed cites, and quality and service remains high.

Must-see Places of Interest

No matter how long you choose to stay, there are some places, which certainly warrant a visit. Agia Varvara Park, which is located on the north west of Freedom Square, is well worth a visit. For those of you who will enter the city via train, a walk around the area of the railway station will reveal some of the oldest architecture in the city. The Kapnomagaza (tobacco warehouses), which lie to the east of the Agia Varvara Park, successfully manage to combine industrial heritage with cutting-edge culture.


Some of these industrial relics are now given a new lease of life as galleries hosting various art exhibitions and some fascinating museum displays, which give insight into this region's colourful past. North of the main square about 30 minutes walk away there is a small hill with fabulous views over the city. At the top, visitors will find a quaint coffee shop to reward their efforts. To the east of the city there are number of old churches, with original decoration and awe-inspiring, original Byzantine paintings, which survive in remarkable condition. For those who wish to delve deeper into Drama's past, there is an impressive Archaeological Museum as well as a museum, which features the religious history of the region. Surrounding the city there are a number of archaeological sites, including the Philipoi ancient theatre. Although, far from a relic of the past, there is also a working theatre that shows re-enactments of ancient Greek plays.

Drama is a relatively compact city with all the usual amenities you have come to expect from developed European tourist hot spots. In all, Drama's biggest asset is its relative exclusivity. Unlike many other Greek cities, Drama has not succumbed to the tourist trade and there is still a real sense of discovery for those who make the effort to make their way here. This, combined with the abundance of cultural and geographical attractions, will make visitors want to return again and again and again. Whether you want to tell you friends, or keep the discovery of this city your own little secret will be up to you. One thing is for certain one visit is never enough!

Pictures courtesy of Kostas Tsembelis and Spiros Kombogiannis