Coordinates: 42°N 26°E / 42°N 26°E / 42; 26
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
The modern boundaries of Thrace in Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey
The physical–geographical boundaries of Thrace: the Balkan Mountains, the Rhodope Mountains and the Bosporus
. The Rhodope mountain range is highlighted.
Odrysian Kingdom showing several Thracian tribes. Sapeia was Northern Thrace and Asteia
was Southern Thrace.

Thrace (/θrs/; Greek: Θράκη, romanizedThráki; Bulgarian: Тракия, romanizedTrakiya; Turkish: Trakya) is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe. It is split among Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey, which is bounded by the Balkan Mountains to the north, the Aegean Sea to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. It comprises southeastern Bulgaria (Northern Thrace), northeastern Greece (Western Thrace), and the European part of Turkey (East Thrace). The region's boundaries are based on that of the Roman Province of Thrace; the lands inhabited by the ancient Thracians extended in the north to modern-day Northern Bulgaria and Romania and to the west into the region of Macedonia.


The word Thrace was first used by the Greeks when referring to the Thracian tribes, from ancient Greek Thrake (Θρᾴκη),[1] descending from Thrāix (Θρᾷξ).[2] It referred originally to the Thracians, an ancient people inhabiting Southeast Europe. The name Europe first referred to Thrace proper, prior to the term vastly extending to refer to its modern concept.[3][4] The region could have been named after the principal river there, Hebros, possibly from the Indo-European arg "white river" (the opposite of Vardar, meaning "black river"),[5] According to an alternative theory, Hebros means "goat" in Thracian.[6]

In Turkey, it is commonly referred to as

Rumeli, "Land of the Romans", which was the name traditionally given by Turkic societies to the Byzantine Empire and Orthodox Christians


In terms of ancient Greek mythology the name appears to derive from the heroine and sorceress




The historical boundaries of Thrace have varied. The

theme of Thrace contained only what today is East Thrace


The largest cities of Thrace are:

Alexandroupoli, Xanthi, and Kırklareli

Demographics and religion

Most of the


Ancient Greek mythology

Ancient Greek mythology provides the Thracians with a mythical ancestor Thrax, the son of the war-god Ares, who was said to reside in Thrace. The Thracians appear in Homer's Iliad as Trojan allies, led by Acamas and Peiros. Later in the Iliad, Rhesus, another Thracian king, makes an appearance. Cisseus, father-in-law to the Trojan elder Antenor, is also given as a Thracian king.

Homeric Thrace was vaguely defined, and stretched from the River

in addition to the tribe that Homer specifically calls the "Thracians".

Polymnestor, Poltys, and Oeagrus (father of Orpheus

Thrace is mentioned in

nightingale, and Tereus into a hoopoe

The Dicaea city in Thrace was named after, the son of Poseidon, Dicaeus.[11]


Ancient and Roman history

Skudrian (Thracian) soldier of the Achaemenid army, circa 480 BC. Xerxes I
tomb relief.

The indigenous population of Thrace was a people called the

Hellespont which abuts Thrace, during the invasion of the Persian Empire

The Thracians did not describe themselves by name; terms such as Thrace and Thracians are simply the names given them by the Greeks.[13]

Divided into separate tribes, the Thracians did not form any lasting political organizations until the founding of the

Odrysian state in the 4th century BC. Like Illyrians, the locally ruled Thracian tribes of the mountainous regions maintained a warrior tradition, while the tribes based in the plains were purportedly more peaceable. Recently discovered funeral mounds in Bulgaria suggest that Thracian kings did rule regions of Thrace with distinct Thracian national identity.[citation needed

During this period, a subculture of

ascetics called the Ctistae
lived in Thrace, where they served as philosophers, priests, and prophets.

Sections of Thrace particularly in the south started to become hellenized before the

Third Macedonian war and the subjugation of Macedonia to the Romans, Thrace also lost its independence and became tributary to Rome. Towards the end of the 1st century BC Thrace lost its status as a client kingdom as the Romans began to directly appoint their kings.[15] This situation lasted until 46 AD, when the Romans finally turned Thrace into a Roman province (Romana provincia Thracia).[16]

During the Roman domination, within the geographical borders of ancient Thrace, there were two separate Roman provinces, namely Thrace ("provincia Thracia") and Lower Moesia ("Moesia inferior"). Later, in the times of Diocletian, the two provinces were joined and formed the so-called "Dioecesis Thracia".[17] The establishment of Roman colonies and mostly several Greek cities, as was Nicopolis, Topeiros, Traianoupolis, Plotinoupolis, and Hadrianoupolis resulted from the Roman Empire's urbanization. The Roman provincial policy in Thrace favored mainly not the Romanization but the Hellenization of the country, which had started as early as the Archaic period through the Greek colonisation and was completed by the end of Roman antiquity.[18] As regards the competition between the Greek and Latin language, the very high rate of Greek inscriptions in Thrace extending south of Haemus Mountains proves the complete language Hellenization of this region. The boundaries between the Greek and Latin speaking Thrace are placed just above the northern foothills of Haemus Mountains.[19]

During the imperial period many Thracians – particularly members of the local aristocracy of the cities – had been granted the right of the

Roman citizenship (civitas Romana) with all its privileges. Epigraphic evidence show a large increase in such naturalizations in the times of Trajan and Hadrian, while in 212 AD the emperor Caracalla granted, with his well-known decree (constitutio Antoniniana), the Roman citizenship to all the free inhabitants of the Roman Empire.[20]
During the same period (in the 1st-2nd century AD), a remarkable presence of Thracians is testified by the inscriptions outside the borders (extra fines) both in the Greek territory[21] and in all the Roman provinces, especially in the provinces of Eastern Roman Empire.[22]

Medieval history

By the mid-5th century, as the Western Roman Empire began to crumble, Thracia fell from the authority of Rome and into the hands of Germanic tribal rulers. With the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Thracia turned into a battleground territory for the better part of the next 1,000 years. The surviving eastern portion of the Roman Empire in the Balkans, later known as the Byzantine Empire, retained control over Thrace until the 7th century when the northern half of the entire region was incorporated into the First Bulgarian Empire and the remainder was reorganized in the Thracian theme. The Empire regained the lost regions in the late 10th century until the Bulgarians regained control of the northern half at the end of the 12th century. Throughout the 13th century and the first half of the 14th century, the region was changing in the hands of the Bulgarian and the Byzantine Empire (excluding Constantinople). In 1265 the area suffered a Mongol raid from the Golden Horde, led by Nogai Khan, and between 1305 and 1307 was raided by the Catalan company.[23]

Ottoman period

Flag of rebels of Thrace during the Greek War of Independence

In 1352, the


Modern history

Proposal to cede East Thrace to Greece during World War I
. This photocopy came from a larger color map.

With the

Greco-Turkish War. In Summer 1934, up to 10,000 Jews[24] were maltreated, bereaved,[clarification needed] and then forced to quit the region (see 1934 Thrace pogroms). From Bulgaria and Romania between 1934-1938 a large wave of Muslims immigrants called Göçmenler went to East Thrace.[25]

Today, Thracian is a geographical term used in Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece.

Notable Thracians

  • Ancient Greek mythology, the chief representative of the art of song and playing the lyre
  • Sophism), and (3) that one could not tell if the gods existed or not (see Agnosticism
  • Herodicus was a Greek physician of the fifth century BC who is considered the founder of sports medicine. He is believed to have been one of Hippocrates' tutors.
  • Democritus was a Greek philosopher and mathematician from Abdera, Thrace (c. 460–370 BC.) His main contribution is the atomic theory, the belief that all matter is made up of various imperishable indivisible elements which he called atoms.
  • Spartacus was a Thracian who led a large slave uprising in what is now Italy in 73–71 BC. His army of escaped gladiators and slaves defeated several Roman legions in what is known as the Third Servile War.
  • A number of
    Barracks Emperor), from the condition of common soldiers in one of the Roman legions to the foremost positions of political power


The Trakiya Heights in Antarctica "are named after the historical region."[26]

See also


  1. Perseus Project
  2. Perseus Project
  3. ^ Greek goddess Europa adorns new five-euro note
  4. (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09.
  5. .
  6. ^ "The Plovdiv Project".
  7. ^ Swinburne Carr, Thomas (1838). The history and geography of Greece. Simpkin, Marshall & Company. p. 56.
  8. ^ a b c Smith, Sir William (1857). Dictionary of Greek and Roman geography. London. p. 1176.
  9. ^ Johann Joachim Eschenburg, Nathan Welby Fiske (1855). Manual of classical literature. E.C. Biddle. p. 20 n.
  10. ^ Adam, Alexander (1802). A summary of geography and history, both ancient and modern. A. Strahan. p. 344.
  11. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica, §D230.14
  12. p 343
  13. ,1992, page 597: "We have no way of knowing what the Thracians called themselves and if indeed they had a common name...Thus the name of Thracians and that of their country were given by the Greeks to a group of tribes occupying the territory..."
  14. ^ A. Sideris, Theseus in Thrace. The Silver Lining on the Clouds of the Athenian-Thracian Relations in the 5th Century BC (Sofia 2015), pp. 13-14, 79-82.
  15. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Le royaume client thrace aux temps de Tibere et la tutelle romaine de Trebellenus Rufus (Le stade transitif de la clientele a la provincialisation de la Thrace), Dodona 17 (1), 1988, p. 159-168
  16. ^ [1] D. C. Samsaris, The Hellenization of Thrace during the Greek and Roman Antiquity (Diss. in Greek), Thessaloniki 1980, p. 26-36
  17. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Historical Geography of Western Thrace during the Roman Antiquity (in Greek), Thessaloniki 2005, p. 7-14
  18. ^ [2] D. C. Samsaris, The Hellenization of Thrace, passim
  19. ^ [3] D. C. Samsaris, The Hellenization of Thrace, p. 320-330
  20. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Surveys in the history, topography and cults of the Roman provinces of Macedonia and Thrace (in Greek), Thessaloniki 1984, p. 131-302
  21. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Les Thraces dans l' Empire romain d' Orient (Le territoire de la Grèce actuelle). Etude ethno-démographique, sociale, prosopographique et anthroponymique, Jannina (Université) 1993, pp. 372
  22. ^ D. C. Samsaris, Les Thraces dans l' Empire romain d' Orient (Asie Mineure, Syrie, Palestine et Arabie). Etude ethno-démographique et sociale, VIe Symposium Internazionale di Tracologia (Firenze 11-13 maggio 1989), Roma 1992, p. 184-204 [= Dodona 19(1990), fasc. 1, p. 5-30]
  23. ^ La Venjança catalana. Gran Enciclopèdia Catalana.
  24. ^ see footnote 4
  25. ^ -gocmenler-1934-1938_1634
  26. Composite Antarctic Gazetteer


  • Hoddinott, R. F., The Thracians, 1981.
  • Ilieva, Sonya, Thracology, 2001

External links

42°N 26°E / 42°N 26°E / 42; 26