The famed city of Serrhai was destroyed when the Bulgarians set it on fire as they began their retreat in 1913. Its Byzantine monuments were consumed by the flames, with the sole exception of the three-aisled 11th century basilica of Ayioi Theodoroi, now reconstructed, which hints at the former wealth and culture of the second most important city of Macedonia after Thessalonike.
The sturdy, solid walls of the acropolis still bear witness to the size of medieval Serrhai. The town has a significant place in the history of the 12th and later centuries. It attained its greatest importance in the 14th century during the conflict between Byzantium and the Serbian state; in 1345 Serrhai was captured by the Serb ruler Stefan Dusan.
In 1371 the then ruler of the city, the Serb John Ugliesa, was defeated in the battle of Maritsa (Evros River) in his attempt to uphold the rights of the entire Orthodox world against the Turks.