There are many versions regarding the origin of the name Rodopi. According to mythology, Rhodope was the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys or the daughter of Strymon and the wife of Haemos, from whom she had Ebros. A second version mentions her as a daughter of Thracian origin who was sold to Egypt in the 6th century BC. Her rosy beauty charmed the king of the Egyptians Psammitichos Amasis (569-528 BC) who married her and named her home Rhodopi.

The archaeological excavations in the area, and especially in the mound of Paradimi, revealed findings from the Neolithic era (4500-3000 BC), while the Bronze Age (3000-1050 BC), with the descent of the Thracians from the north, large fortified settlements developed on the heights of the Rhodope and Ismaros mountains.

During the Iron Age (1050-650 BC) there are important records of religion, mythology, and Thracian culture. Homer refers to the Cykones (who were fought by Odysseus and captured their city of Ismara), the Vistones and Sapae (who lived inland) and the Tribalus and Odrysseus (who lived between Arda and the river Evros). In the 7th century BC the Thracian coasts are filled with colonies (e.g. Maroneia receives settlers from Chios).

Until the Hellenistic years, Thrace became Hellenized and followed a common racial and historical course with the Greeks. In 46 AD century, Thrace becomes a Roman Province. The Romans create a wide road network to connect the big cities with central Europe, the Egnatia Road (800 km).

After the founding of Constantinople (330 AD), all of Thrace became a Byzantine Province. The Rhodope region is fortified with walled cities and fortresses. With the conquest of Thrace by the Ottomans in 1352 and for about five centuries, the enslaved Hellenism went through many difficulties.

In 1821, Thrace participates in the liberation struggle. In the 1910s, the era of the Bulgarian occupation, it was claimed by the Balkan powers and Turkey. On March 14, 1920, the southwestern part of Great Thrace was incorporated into Greece. At the time of the Second World War, Thrace remained under Bulgarian occupation and at the end of the war it was assigned to Greece.

Editor: Niki Kalopaidis