A brief History of Alexandroupolis
The start of construction of the railway line Constantinople - Edirne of the Orient Railway in 1870, with a branch on the lower reaches of the Maritza towards the Aegean, initiated the development of the city. The city was founded in 1871 under the name Dedeağaç (Bulgarian: Дедеагач) as a port near the mouth of the Maritsa River in the Ottoman Vilayet of Edirne. Trade in the city flourished and attracted mainly Bulgarian traders from the entire Thracian plain and from the Rhodope Mountains, who did not have to fight against long-established Phanariot families and their influence in the newly founded town. During the Russo-Ottoman War (1877-1878), the site was occupied by Russian troops, who remained on site until the Berlin Congress. During this time, Russian engineers created the first development plan of the place with large-scale straight boulevards and rectangular cross streets. They also oversaw the construction of the lighthouse at the port.
In 1891 the Bulgarian parish opened the first school in the city. The following year, the three-aisled Bulgarian Orthodox Church of Cyril and Methodius (today the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Eleftherios) was completed and consecrated with the financial help of the merchant brothers Vasil and Rajcho Kovachev from Rajkovo and the merchants Petko Bobev and Brian Kaloyanov from Doğanhisar .
The population grew rapidly; According to an Ottoman census from 1882, 21,246 inhabitants lived in Dedeağaç, of which the Bulgarians with 9,001 inhabitants together with the Turks with 8,070 inhabitants made up the majority. Already in the following year Dedeağaç displaced the importance of the then Dimetoka (today Didymoticho) as the center of the Sanjak. In 1894, the Sanjak Dedeağaç consisted of the kazas (counties) of Dedeağaç, Enez and Sofrulu (now Soufli). The Kaza Dedeağaç consisted of the three Nahies (communes) Ferecik, Meğri and Semadirek and 41 villages. According to Article 10 of the Ferman establishing the Bulgarian Exarchate, the Bulgarian community decided to convert to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and to the Bulgarian Millets (Eksarhhâne-i Millet i Bulgar).
From 1894 the city became the starting point for another strategic railway line. The new line, which ran through western Thrace along the Aegean coast, connected the second largest Ottoman city in Europe, Thessaloniki, directly to the Ottoman Empire's rail network. This eliminated the need and the detour to transport goods and goods via the railway lines through Serbian and Bulgarian territory. The new line was built by the Société du Chemin de Fer Ottoman Jonction Salonique–Constantinople (JSC), funded primarily by French donors.
During the school year 1905/06 there were already three Bulgarian schools in Dedeağaç, two elementary schools and the class school Cyril and Methodius. In 1909, with the outbreak of the Young Turk Revolution, which was supported by the Bulgarian population, IMARO member Nikola Tabakov became the city's first Bulgarian mayor.
In the First and Second Balkan Wars of 1912/13, up to 11 volunteers from Dedeağaç fought as part of the Bulgarian Army's Macedonia-Adrianople Volunteer Corps against the Ottomans and Serbs. On November 2, 1912, the city was taken by troops of the Macedonia-Adrianople Volunteer Corps under the command of officer Aleksandar Tanev from Veles. Leaving 150 volunteers in the city, he pursued the Ottoman troops led by Mehmed Yaver Pasha from the south towards Soufli. On November 13, the regular Bulgarian army under General Stilijan Kovachev entered the city. At that time, 185,000 Turks, 25,500 Bulgarians, 22,000 Greeks and 2,200 residents of other ethnic groups lived in Western Thrace. Because of the threatened connection to Bulgaria, resistance developed in the Muslim-Turkish population, which culminated in the establishment of the Provisional Government of Western Thrace. Greece supported the establishment of such a republic with the aim of influencing the ongoing negotiations between the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria in Constantinople at the same time so that there would be no peace between the two countries. According to the London Treaty of May 1913, which settled the end of the First Balkan War, Dedeağaç and Western Thrace were nevertheless awarded to Bulgaria.
As tensions between Bulgaria and Greece mounted, the Greek Navy bombarded Dedeağaç on June 28-29, 1913, in one of the first acts of war in the Second Balkan War. On July 12th