Soufli. Soufli is the city of silk. Its handmade silk is known beyond the borders of Greece. According to historians the city was founded in the 16th century by refugees from the legendary village of Souli in Epirus who fiercely resisted Turkish rule. The town was one of the few centers in Greece where silk was produced. It is not surprising that there are many mulberry trees in and around Soufli. The branches of these trees housed the caterpillars who were fed and then spun cocoons. These cocoons from the butterfly, "Bambix mori mori," were then processed. It was spun into the famous silk, which was later made into beautiful silk fabrics. This happened in the so-called "Koukoulospita;" literally translated "coco houses." Today, almost no silk is being produced there anymore, because the production process has become too expensive and people can no longer compete with manufacturers from the Far East. One may still end up in the sublime Silk Museum (μουσείο μεταξιού-moesio metaxioe) where one gets a good view over the entire production process as well as the history of its evolution in this region.
In the town you will find many old mansions that attest of the economic prosperity which Soufli had in the 19th century and the first half of the last century. Some old “koukoulospita” were renovated and converted into hostels or cultural centers. Recently there have been new attempts to revive the silk production in the city.
Other places of interest in the city are the churches of Agios Georgios, Agios Athanassios and the church of Prophet Elias. The folklore museum is a must. The Old Gymnasium (Gymnasio) and the 1st primary school are architecturally interesting and reflect the high social and economic development that Soufli knew. Nowadays, Soufli is a quiet town with about 5,000 inhabitants less than a kilometer (less than half a mile) from the Evros River, which separates Greece from Turkey. It is still the capital of the eponymous district. The people in services and agriculture.
Text: Jorgos and Wendy Nikolidakis - Text edited by Katrina Butzer