Thrace (/θreɪs/; Greek: Θράκη, Thráki; Bulgarian: Тракия, Trakiya; Turkish: Trakya) is a geographical and historical region in Southeast Europe, now split between 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 word Thrace was established by the Greeks for referring to the Thracian tribes, from ancient Greek Thrake (Θρᾴκη), descending from Thrāix (Θρᾷξ). It referred originally to the Thracians, an ancient Indo-European people inhabiting Southeast Europe. The name Europe first referred to Thrace proper, prior to the term vastly extending to refer to its modern concept.  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"), According to an alternative theory, Hebros means "goat" in Thracian.
The historical boundaries of Thrace have varied. The ancient Greeks employed the term "Thrace" to refer to all of the territory which lay north of Thessaly inhabited by the Thracians, a region which "had no definite boundaries" and to which other regions (like Macedonia and even Scythia) were added. In one ancient Greek source, the very Earth is divided into "Asia, Libya, Europa and Thracia". As the Greeks gained knowledge of world geography, "Thrace" came to designate the area bordered by the Danube on the north, by the Euxine Sea (Black Sea) on the east, by northern Macedonia in the south and by Illyria to the west. This largely coincided with the Thracian Odrysian kingdom, whose borders varied over time. After the Macedonian conquest, this region's former border with Macedonia was shifted from the Struma River to the Mesta River. This usage lasted until the Roman conquest. Henceforth, (classical) Thrace referred only to the tract of land largely covering the same extent of space as the modern geographical region. In its early period, the Roman province of Thrace was of this extent, but after the administrative reforms of the late 3rd century, Thracia's much reduced territory became the six small provinces which constituted the Diocese of Thrace. The medieval Byzantine theme of Thrace contained only what today is East Thrace.
Most of the Bulgarian and Greek population are Orthodox Christians, while most of the Turkish inhabitants of Thrace are Sunni Muslims.
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 Axios in the west to the Hellespont and Black Sea in the east. The Catalogue of Ships mentions three separate contingents from Thrace: Thracians led by Acamas and Peiros, from Aenus; Cicones led by Euphemus, from southern Thrace, near Ismaros; and from the city of Sestus, on the Thracian (northern) side of the Hellespont, which formed part of the contingent led by Asius. Ancient Thrace was home to numerous other tribes, such as the Edones, Bisaltae, Cicones, and Bistones in addition to the tribe that Homer specifically calls the “Thracians”.
Thrace is mentioned in Ovid's Metamorphoses, in the episode of Philomela, Procne, and Tereus: Tereus, the King of Thrace, lusts after his sister-in-law, Philomela. He kidnaps her, holds her captive, rapes her, and cuts out her tongue. Philomela manages to get free, however. She and her sister, Procne, plot to get revenge, by killing her son Itys (by Tereus) and serving him to his father for dinner. At the end of the myth, all three turn into birds – Procne into a swallow, Philomela into a nightingale, and Tereus into a hoopoe.
The indigenous population of Thrace was a people called the Thracians, divided into numerous tribal groups. The region was controlled by the Persian Empire at its greatest extent, and Thracian soldiers were known to be used in the Persian armies. Later on, Thracian troops were known to accompany neighboring ruler Alexander the Great when he crossed the Hellespont which abuts Thrace, during the invasion of the Persian Empire itself.
The Thracians did not describe themselves by name; terms such as Thrace and Thracians are simply the names given them by the Greeks.
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.
Sections of Thrace particularly in the south started to become hellenized before the Peloponnesian War as Athenian and Ionian colonies were set up in Thrace before the war. Spartan and other Doric colonists followed them after the war. The special interest of Athens to Thrace is underlined by the numerous finds of Athenian silverware in Thracian tombs. In 168 BC, after 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.  This situation lasted until 46 AD, when the Romans finally turned Thrace into a Roman province (Romana provincia Thracia)
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". 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. It is noteworthy that 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. 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.
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 his 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.  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  and in all the Roman provinces, especially in the provinces of Eastern Roman Empire. 
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 8th 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.
In 1352, the Ottoman Turks conducted their first incursion into the region subduing it completely within a matter of two decades and occupying it for five centuries. In 1821, several parts of Thrace, such as Lavara, Maroneia, Sozopolis, Aenos, Callipolis and Samothraki rebelled during the Greek War of Independence.
With the Congress of Berlin in 1878, Northern Thrace was incorporated into the semi-autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia, which united with Bulgaria in 1885. The rest of Thrace was divided among Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey at the beginning of the 20th century, following the Balkan Wars, World War I and the Greco-Turkish War. In Summer 1934, up to 10.000 Jews were maltreated, bereaved and then forced to quit the region (see 1934 Thrace pogroms).
Today, Thracian is a geographical term used in Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria.
Two main gods of the Bessi Thracians were Dionysus (worshiped as Zagreus) and Bendis. Zagreus was worshipped by followers of Orphism (the name given to a set of religious beliefs and practices associated with literature ascribed to the mythical poet Orpheus), whose late Orphic hymns invoke his name. Actually Zagreus was a Thracian god prototype later known as Dionysus – the god of joy, wine and ecstasy in the Greek and Bacchus in the Roman mythology.
Holidays (mysteries) dedicated to Dionysus in Greece were called Dionysii; in Rome they were known as Bacchanalia and in Thrace as Rozalii. Orphic mysteries held in honor of Dionysus-Zagreus were performed only by devoted unmarried men. They were called a-bii, which means "not alive" because they did not lead an ordinary life. The mysteries were held in secret places far from the eyes of the ordinary people and were accompanied by choral songs and mimic games. The culmination of the mysteries was the symbolic death of the king-priest, identified with Zagreus who according to myth was torn apart by the Titans. Following the "death", the mother goddess was also symbolically born. The first part was carried out through a sacrifice of a bull, horse, goat or even people and the latter through a sexual orgy. Later on, Orphic mysteries became a part of the Bacchanalia.
Wine and fire were essential to the cult of Dionysus. The act of wine producing itself was recognized as a tale of the life and sorrow of the god. Picking and smashing the vines represent the way that the Titans tore Dionysus apart. That is why vinification was a mystery that was accompanied by sad songs.
Bendis was a goddess worshiped in Southwestern Thrace. She was typically presented as a hunter, wrapped with leather with boots and a fox fur hat. She holds a spear, a bow or a net and she is often accompanied by a hunting dog. In Greek mythology boots are a symbol of speed. Bendis is different from her Greek analogies in that she wears a fox hat.
Vine and Haberlea rhodopensis (Orpheus' flower) were objects of cult for the Bessi. Wine and flame were believed to cause euphoria. Svetonii Tranquil and Herodotus described rituals in which worshippers would divine by pouring wine on the altar and observing the height of the blaze. Other tribes would also burn a sacrificial animal on the altar. They believed that if the flames were vigorous, the year would be fruitful.
Cardia or Kardia (Ancient Greek: Kαρδία), anciently the chief town of the Thracian Chersonese (today Gallipoli peninsula), was situated at the head of the Gulf of Melas (today the Gulf of Saros). It was originally a colony of the Milesians and Clazomenians; but subsequently, in the time of Miltiades (late 6th century BC), the place also received Athenian colonists, as proved by Miltiades tyranny (515–493 BC). But this didn't make Cardia necessarily always pro-Athenian: when in 357 BC Athens took control of the Chersonese, the latter, under the rule of a Thracian prince, was the only city to remain neutral; but the decisive year was 352 BC when the city concluded a treaty of amity with king Philip II of Macedonia. A great crisis exploded when Diopeithes, an Athenian mercenary captain, had in 343 BC brought Attic settlers to the town; and since Cardia was unwilling to receive them, Philip immediately sent help to the town. The king proposed to settle the dispute between the two cities by arbitration, but Athens refused. Demosthenes, the famous Greek patriot and orator, spoke on this very matter to the Athenian Senate in 341 BC his "Oration On The State Of The Chersonesus" : "Our present concernment is about the affairs of the Chersonesus, and Philip's expedition into Thrace...but most of our orators insist upon the actions and designs of Diopithes...which, if one moment neglected, the loss may be irreparable; here our attention is instantly demanded...shall Philip be left at full liberty to pursue all his other designs, provided he keeps from Attica; and shall not Diopithes be permitted to assist the Thracians? And if he does, shall we accuse him of involving us in a war?...none of you can be weak enough to imagine that Philip's desires are centered in those paltry villages of Thrace...and has no designs on the ports...arsenals...navies...silver mines, and all the other revenues of Athens; but that he will leave them for you to enjoy...? Impossible! No; these and all his expeditions are really intended to facilitate the conquest of Athens....let us shake off our extravagant and dangerous supineness; let us supply the necessary expenses; let us call on our allies...so that, as he hath his force constantly prepared to injure and enslave the Greeks, yours too may be ever ready to protect and assist them."The town was destroyed by Lysimachus about 309 BC, and although it was afterwards rebuilt, it never again rose to any degree of prosperity, as Lysimachia, which was built in its vicinity and peopled with the inhabitants of Cardia, became the chief town in that neighbourhood. Cardia was the birthplace of Alexander's secretary Eumenes and of the historian Hieronymus.East Thrace
East Thrace or Eastern Thrace (Turkish: Doğu Trakya or simply Trakya; Greek: Ανατολική Θράκη, Anatoliki Thraki; Bulgarian: Източна Тракия, Iztochna Trakiya), also known as Turkish Thrace or European Turkey, is the part of the modern Republic of Turkey that is geographically part of Southeast Europe. It accounts for 3% of Turkey's land area but comprises 14% of Turkey's total population. The rest of the country is located on the Anatolian peninsula, geographically in Western Asia. East Thrace is of historic importance as it is next to a major sea-based trade corridor and constitutes what remains of the once-vast Ottoman Empire region of Rumelia. It is currently also of specific geostrategic importance because the sea corridor, which includes two narrow straits, provides access to the Mediterranean Sea from the Black Sea for the navies of five countries: Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Georgia. The region also serves as a future connector of existing Turkish, Bulgarian, and Greek high speed rail networks.Eastern Macedonia and Thrace
Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (Greek: Ανατολική Μακεδονία και Θράκη, Anatolikí Makedonía kai Thráki) is one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It consists of the northeastern parts of the country, comprising the eastern part of the region of Greek Macedonia along with the region of Western Thrace, and the islands of Thasos and Samothrace.Limnae (Thrace)
Limnae or Limnai (Ancient Greek: Λίμναι), was an ancient Greek city dating back to 7th century B.C. on the Gallipoli peninsula. The city was founded by migrants coming from Ionia. The city was one of the richest and most busy seaports of the Gallipoli region in its time and maintained its existence until the Roman era.
Limnae is covered by several ancient authors. Strabo places Limnae between Drabus and Alopeconnesus. According to Anaximenes of Miletus, it was a colony of Miletus. It belonged to the Delian League as it appears in Athenian tribute lists from 447/6 to 429/8 BCE. Limnae also appears in Stephanus of Byzantium and Pseudo-Scymnus.Until 2018, the existence of the ancient city was known from ancient texts, but the exact location was not certain. In 2018, the city was discovered near the Beşyol plain. According to the archaeologists: "Only pieces of bowls, crockery and tiles can be seen on the surface since the architectural remnants of the city are underground. However, these pieces give us information about the field the city covered, as well as when the city was established and when it was desolated."List of Thracian Greeks
This is a list of ancient Greeks in ThraceList of ancient cities in Thrace and Dacia
This is a list of ancient cities, towns, villages, and fortresses in and around Thrace and Dacia. A number of these settlements were Dacian and Thracian, but some were Celtic, Greek, Roman, Paeonian, or Persian.
A number of cities in Dacia and Thrace were built on or close to the sites of preexisting Dacian or Thracian settlements. Some settlements in this list may have a double entry, such as the Paeonian Astibo and Latin Astibus. It is believed that Thracians did not build true cities even if they were named as such; the largest Thracian settlements were large villages. The only known attempt to build a polis by the Thracians was Seuthopolis., although Strabo considered the Thracian cities with "bria" ending polises. Some of the Dacian settlements and fortresses employed the traditional Murus Dacicus construction technique.
Note: Throughout these lists, an asterisk [*] indicates that the toponym is reconstructed.List of ancient tribes in Thrace and Dacia
This is a list of ancient tribes in Thrace and Dacia (Ancient Greek: Θρᾴκη, Δακία) including possibly or partly Thracian or Dacian tribes, and non-Thracian or non-Dacian tribes that inhabited the lands known as Thrace and Dacia. A great number of Ancient Greek tribes lived in these regions as well, albeit in the Greek colonies.List of rulers of Thrace and Dacia
This article lists rulers of Thrace and Dacia, and includes Thracian, Paeonian, Celtic, Dacian, Scythian, Persian or Ancient Greek up to the point of its
fall to the Roman empire, with a few figures from Greek mythology.Lysimachus
Lysimachus (Greek: Λυσίμαχος, Lysimachos; c. 360 BC – 281 BC) was a Macedonian officer and diadochus (i.e. "successor") of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus ("King") in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.Obzor
Obzor (Bulgarian: Обзор; Thracian: Naulochos, Ancient Greek: Ναύλοχος, translit. Naulochos, Latin: Naulochus, Tetranaulochus, or Templum Iovis) is a small town and seaside resort on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. It is part of Nesebar municipality, Burgas Province.
The Thracian and ancient Greek name of Obzor was Naulochos, a small port on the coast of Thrace, a colony of Mesembria. The ancient Romans named it Templum Iovis (Temple of Jupiter); Pliny called it Tetranaulochus. During the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria, it was known as Gözeken. The modern name was introduced in 1936; Obzor obtained town privileges on 9 September 1984.Odrysian kingdom
The Odrysian Kingdom (; Ancient Greek: Βασίλειον Ὀδρυσῶν; Latin: Regnum Odrysium) was a state union of over 40 Thracian tribes and 22 kingdoms that existed between the 5th century BC and the 1st century AD. It consisted mainly of present-day Bulgaria, spreading to parts of Southeastern Romania (Northern Dobruja), parts of Northern Greece and parts of modern-day European Turkey.
It is suggested that the kingdom had no capital. Instead, the kings may have moved between residences. A capital was the city of Odryssa (assumed to be Uscudama, modern Edirne), as inscribed on coins. Another royal residence believed to have been constructed by Cotys I (383-358 BC) is in the village of Starosel, while in 315 BC Seuthopolis was built as a capital. An early capital was Vize. The kingdom broke up and Kabyle was a co-capital by the end of the 4th century BC.Pegae (Thrace)
Pegae or Pegai (Ancient Greek: Πηγαί), also known as Crenides or Krenides (Κρενίδες), was a town of ancient Thrace, near Byzantium. Nearby was fought the Battle of Pegae in March of 921.
The site of Pegae is near the modern Kasımpaşa, in European Turkey.Prehistory of Southeastern Europe
The prehistory of Southeastern Europe, defined roughly as the territory of the wider Balkan peninsula (including the territories of the modern countries of Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece, Bosnia, Romania, Bulgaria, and European Turkey) covers the period from the Upper Paleolithic, beginning with the presence of Homo sapiens in the area some 44,000 years ago, until the appearance of the first written records in Classical Antiquity, in Greece as early as the 8th century BC.
Human prehistory in Southeastern Europe is conventionally divided into smaller periods, such as Upper Paleolithic, Holocene Mesolithic/Epipaleolithic, Neolithic Revolution, expansion of Proto-Indo-Europeans, and Protohistory. The changes between these are gradual. For example, depending on interpretation, protohistory might or might not include Bronze Age Greece (2800–1200 BC), Minoan, Mycenaean, Thracian and Venetic cultures. By one interpretation of the historiography criterion, Southeastern Europe enters protohistory only with Homer (See also Historicity of the Iliad, and Geography of the Odyssey). At any rate, the period ends before Herodotus in the 5th century BC.Samothrace
Samothrace (also Samothraki, Samothracia) (Ancient Greek: Σαμοθρᾴκη, Ionic Σαμοθρηΐκη; Greek: Σαμοθράκη, [samoˈθraci]) is a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. It is a municipality within the Evros regional unit of Thrace. The island is 17 km (11 mi) long and is 178 km2 (69 sq mi) in size and has a population of 2,859 (2011 census). Its main industries are fishing and tourism. Resources on the island include granite and basalt. Samothrace is one of the most rugged Greek islands, with Mt. Saos and its tip Fengari rising to 1,611 m (5,285 ft).Sozopol
Sozopol (Bulgarian: Созопол, Greek: Σωζόπολις Sozopolis) is an ancient seaside town located 35 km south of Burgas on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Today it is one of the major seaside resorts in the country, known for the Apollonia art and film festival (which takes place in early September) that is named after one of the town's ancient names.
The busiest times of the year are the summer months, ranging from May to September as tourists from around the world come to enjoy the weather, sandy beaches, history and culture, fusion cuisine (Balkan, Mediterranean), and atmosphere of the colourful resort.
Part of Burgas Province and administrative centre of the homonymous Sozopol Municipality, as of December 2009, the town has a population of 5,410 inhabitants.Thracia
Thracia or Thrace (Θρᾴκη Thrakē) is the ancient name given to the southeastern Balkan region, the land inhabited by the Thracians.Thracians
The Thracians (; Ancient Greek: Θρᾷκες Thrāikes; Latin: Thraci) were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting a large area in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family. The study of Thracians and Thracian culture is known as Thracology.Turks of Western Thrace
Muslims of Western Thrace (Turkish: Batı Trakya Müslüman , Greek: Μουσουλμάνοι της Δυτικής Θράκης) are ethnic Turks who live in Western Thrace, in the province of East Macedonia and Thrace in Northern Greece.
According to the Greek census of 1991, there were approximately 50,000 Turks in Western Thrace, out of the approximately 98,000 strong Muslim minority of Greece. Other sources estimate the size of the Turkish community between 90,000 and 120,000. The Turks of Western Thrace are not to be confused with Pomaks nor with Muslim Roma people of the same region, counting 35% and 15% of the Muslim minority respectively.Due to the multiethnic character of the Muslim minority of Greece, which includes Turks, Pomaks and Roma Muslims, the Government of Greece does not refer to it by a specific ethnic background, nor does recognize any of these ethnicities, including the Turks, as separate ethnic minority in Western Thrace, instead referring to the whole Muslim minority on religious grounds, as the "Muslim Minority of Western Thrace" or "Greek Muslims". This is in accordance with the Treaty of Lausanne to which Greece, along with Turkey, is a signature member. The Lausanne Treaty, along with the Greek Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, enshrines the fundamental rights of the Turks and other ethnic groups of East Macedonia and Thrace and the obligations towards them.Western Thrace
Western Thrace or West Thrace (Greek: [Δυτική] Θράκη, [Dytikí] Thráki [ˈθraci] / Turkish: Batı Trakya; Bulgarian: Западна Тракия, Zapadna Trakiya or Беломорска Тракия, Belomorska Trakiya) is a geographic and historical region of Greece, between the Nestos and Evros rivers in the northeast of the country; East Thrace, which lies east of the river Evros, forms the European part of Turkey, and the area to the north, in Bulgaria, is known as Northern Thrace.
Inhabited since paleolithic times, it has been under the political, cultural and linguistic influence of the Greek world since the classical era; Greeks from the Aegean islands extensively colonized the region (especially the coastal part) and built prosperous cities such as Abdera (home of Democritus, the 5th-century B.C. philosopher who developed an atomic particle theory, and of Protagoras, a leading sophist) and Sale (near present-day Alexandroupoli). Under the Byzantine Empire, Western Thrace benefited from its position close to the imperial heartland and became a center of medieval Greek commerce and culture; later, under the Ottoman Empire, a number of Muslims settled there, marking the birth of the Muslim minority of Greece.
Topographically, Thrace alternates between mountain-enclosed basins of varying size and deeply cut river valleys. It is divided into the three regional units (former prefectures): Xanthi, Rhodope and Evros, which together with the Macedonian regional units of Drama, Kavala and Thasos form the Region of East Macedonia and Thrace.
The Fourth Army Corps of the Hellenic Army has its headquarters in Xanthi; in recent years, the region has attracted international media attention after becoming a key entering point for illegal immigrants trying to enter European Union territory; Greek security forces, working together with Frontex, are also extensively deployed in the Greek-Turkish land border.