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Current Name
Ancient Name
Medieval Name
History of the name

Mythological tradition connects the name of the city to Hercules’ companion, Avderos, who was devoured by Diomedes’ carnivorous horses, king of Bistonian Thracians. In 879 the city is registered in the Proceedings of the Ecumenical Synod of Constantinople, as Episcopal center under the name Polistylon. The change of its name must have occured in the first years of the Macedonian Dynasty. That was the era when the reconstruction and elevation of the cities began, many of them becoming Episcopal centers. The new name was given because of the many columns (styloi) which were preserved since antiquity. 

Place :

Geopolitical Unit
Administrative subdivision
Prefecture of Xanthi, Municipality of Avdera
Avdera is built on cape Bouloustra, between the estuary of Nestos river and Porto Lagos.
Foudation Date
Klazomenioi, with Timisios as their leader, founded the city in 656/652 BC. This colony gradually decayed and so Avdera is being re-established in 545 BC from Teious residents.
Current condition
Nowadays in the area there is a newer settlement built around 1720. The residents’ main occupation is cultivating tobacco.

The colony of Teios, built on a privileged position, as far as trade with the inland of Thrace is concerned, the two ports and the land which was suitable for cultivation, quickly became one of the most admirable cities in the northern Aegean.
In 491 BC, Mardonios, took over Thrace and used the port of Avdera as a military base against Persians. In 480 BC Xerxis and his army stayed in the city. The same happened again the next year when he retrieved after losing the war.
After the Persian Wars, Avdera, was in peace for a long time which was also followed by financial and cultural rise, but the Peloponnisian War weakened the city. In 376 BC the invasion of Trivalles led to the decimation of its residents.
A year later, Avdera integrated to the Athenian Alliance and remained there until 350 BC when it was taken over by Philippos II.
After Alexander the Great’s death, Avdera was consecutively taken over by the Macedonians, the Selefkides and the Ptolemaioi.
In 167 BC the whole region of Macedonia and Thrace passed under Roman occupation. Avdera maintained the “free city” regime, but never truly regained its former glory and gradually turned into a small town which suffered due to the creation of swamps by Nestos river. In the years of Constantine the Great (307-337 AD), it suffered great distraction which was confirmed by excavations, and thus it is not mentioned up until 879 when it became the Episcopal center with the name Polistylon.
The bishopric of Polistylon firstly pertained to the Filippoi metropolis but had to be extorted because of the distance between them and so it was annexed to the Maroneia archbishopric from 1356 to 1370.
Byzantine sources refer to the city either with its byzantine name (Polistylon) or with its ancient name (Avdera), while sometimes it is mentioned as a fortress and sometimes as a small city-port.  Now it is a small settlement on top of the hill where ancient acropolis used to be.
In the 14th century, the city, as the whole of Thrace, meets the outcomes of the Civil War, between Anna Palaiologina, the widow of Andronikos III, and Ioannis Kantakouzinos (1341-1346). In the period between 1343 -1345, it is under the dominance of the Bulgarian ruler, Momtzilos.
In the post Byzantine era, Polistylon, according to sources, was a quite important naval city which was connected to the inland through two roads, one of which led to Xantheia (Xanthi) and the other to Perithorion (Anastasioupolis).
With the seizure of the area by the Ottomans, the city is being abandoned and another settlement is created 6 klm. northern than it was, where now Avdera is located.
The newest Avdera city was built around 1720.


  Excavation work in the area started in 1950, while up until this day many parts of the ancient city have been revealed. Its urban complex includes two fortification enclosures, an ancient one to the North and a modern one to the South. Between them, on the side of a hill there is a theater. In the South-West, one can see the hill of the Acropolis, while in the North-West, North and North-East there are preserved the ancient, classic and hellenistic cemeteries, respectively. After the distraction of the city in the 4th century AD, its residential area was limited to the South-West coastal hill part, where the Acropolis of the ancient times used to be. In the North-West, on the sides of the hill, a residential block of 6 housings was excavated, which belonged to the early Christian era and it gives an idea of the city as it was in the time when the Hippodameius system was abandoned and the city shrank.
Excavation researches in recent years (1982-1996), have brought into light the Episcopal church of the city, another single-aisled church, a cemetery basilica outside the byzantine walls, baths and the houses mentioned above


 Because of the changes in the geomorphology of the area, until the 5th century BC, its gulf penetrated 2 km. northern to where the beach now is. The Avderians who used to live inside the Northern Enclosure, had to gradually move to the port to the South. In the middle of the 4th century BC there is a whole new city plan through which the city is moved towards the sea and there are two new ports created to ensure communication through the sea.
The width and dynamic of the commerce of the city is shown by the finding of coins cut in Avdera but found in distant Egyptian, Syrian and Mesopotamian ports.
Nowadays the place is used for the mooring of small vessels and fishing boats. The breakwater of the western part of the port is still visible which was built from large granite boulders. There was a round tower at its ending point.
At is eastern port there are still buildings that must have been storage spaces. Nowadays, when the water retrieves, its breakwater is visible. It is formed from the northern part of the wall, it continues all inside the sea and ends to a round tower.


In order to ensure safety in the byzantine settlement, the broken walls of the ancient Acropolis were rebuilt in the late Roman – early Christian era and are reinforced during the mid Byzantine and late Byzantine eras. Before excavations started, the Byzantine walls were the only visible ruins of the ancient and byzantine city. The perimeter of this fortification is about 800 m., more or less the same as the perimeter of the classical acropolis. It is basically the outline of the coastal hill which shapes a triangle with the southern side which is parallel to the coastline. The thickness of the walls is not the same in its all length, but at its weakest parts it seems to be enhanced quite a lot, while in some parts there were built square towers. The one standing on the North-West corner is characterized as the “tower of the port” since its role was to control and protect the byzantine port.
On the northern side, where the gate of the classical acropolis was, it is located the central gate of the castle. It is a double gate and between the two openings there is an vaulted hallway. There was another gate at the eastern part of the northern side of the fortress which led to the Episcopal church. A smaller gate opened to the western side, which however was built to become a wall later in time.
Two transverse walls run through the city at all its width towards a North-South direction. The eastern one divided the city from the byzantine acropolis, while the western one divided the settlement into two almost equal parts.
In the acropolis there were two strong three-storey square towers which are dated back to the palaiologan era because of their masonry and architectural type. The construction of these towers can be related to the building activity of Ioannis Kantakouzenos, recorded by the written sources, who reinforced the fortification of Polistylon and other byzantine castles of Thrace in the 14th century.

Medieval Sites

Archaeological Sites:
• Βυζαντινή Ακρόπολη


• Αρχαιολογικό Μουσείο Αβδήρων:

• Ιστορικό και Λαογραφικό Μουσείο Αβδήρων:

Textual Sources

• Στράβων 7.44, 7.47.
• Καντακουζηνός IV. I-III, 226, 277, 428
• Nichephori Gregorae, Byzantina Historia III, Graece et Latine, Bonn 1855, σ.564.


• Asdracha C., La region des Rhodopes aux XIIIe et XIVe siecles, Αθήνα 1976, σ.96 – 98.
• Δαδάκη Στ., Ζήκος Ν., Καλλιντζή Κ., Τερζοπούλου Δ., Άβδηρα-Πολύστυλο: οδηγός, Αθήνα 1998
• Ευγενίδου Δ., Κάστρα Μακεδονίας και Θράκης. Βυζαντινή Καστροκτισία, Αθήνα 1997, σ. 54 – 55.
• Ζήκος Ν., Βυζαντινό οδοιπορικό στη Θράκη, Αρχαιολογία 13 (Νοέμβριος 1984), σ. 72
• Μπακιρτζής Χ.,  Ανασκαφή Πολυστύλου Αβδήρων, ΠΑΕ (1982), σ. 18-26
• Μπακιρτζής Χ., Ανασκαφή Πολυστύλου Αβδήρων, ΠΑΕ (1983), σ. 13-19
• Μπακιρτζής Χ., Ζήκος Ν., Ανασκαφή Πολυστύλου Αβδήρων, ΠΑΕ (1984), σ. 12-17
• Μπακιρτζής Χ., Έρευνα παλαιοχριστιανικών μνημείων στη Θράκη, Συμπόσιο  «Η ιστορική, αρχαιολογική και λαογραφική έρευνα για τη Θράκη», Ξάνθη – Κομοτηνή – Αλεξανδρούπολη 1985,Θεσσαλονίκη, σ.179 -180.
• Μπακιρτζής Χ. – Τριαντάφυλλος Δ., Θράκη, Πολιτιστικός Οδηγός ΕΤΒΑ, Αθηνά 1988, σ.32 – 33.
• Μπακιρτζής Χ., Βυζαντινή Θράκη 330 – 1453, ΘΡΑΚΗ, Λεύκωμα Γ. Γ. Περιφέρειας Ανατολικής Μακεδονίας – Θράκης, Αθήνα 1994, σ.158 – 162.
• Τριαντάφυλλος Δ., Άβδηρα. Ιστορικά στοιχεία, Αρχαιολογία 13 (1984), σ.27 – 34.


Visual Material
Writer / Date
Livadioti Marina
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