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Kavala GreeceKavala: From the blue expanse of the west coast to the Orphic surroundings of mystical Mount Paggaion and from the scenic routes alongside the river Nestos to the bustling city of Kavala. The county of Kavala situated in the centre of East Macedonia can be an exciting adventure all year round. It is only 100km away from Thessaloniki and within a stone's throw from Thrace; it is marked out by two rivers, Strymonas and Nestos. Kavala has always been a crossroads of cultures and a stop for great travelers and army leaders, from Philip II and Alexander the Great, Mark Antony and Paul the Apostle to the 19th century travelers.
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The scenery varies pleasantly from beaches to limitless plains and woodlands interspersed with quaint small restaurants, cafés and fully-equipped hotels. Weather conditions are always according to season. It is in this place that one can appreciate each season's color: summer is cool at the seaside, autumn leaves look golden on the mountain, winter is coupled with a snug warm corner and spring is brightly colored and scented. There is nothing more delightful than disappearing into the pure blue waters, ambling along large stretches of sand, sipping a glass of local spirit called 'tsipouro', sampling fresh fish as well as exploring the recesses of the county. So if you choose to visit Kavala, you will have opted for pleasure.
At a distance of lust 165km from Thessaloniki, it is easy to reach by car, plane and ship, which makes it an ideal holiday destination. There are excellent road connections with all the large towns in the region. The international airport (at a distance of 30 km from the city), which links Kavala to Athens by daily scheduled flights as well as to foreign countries by charter flights is one of the safest airports in the Balkans. The port connects Kavala and Thassos as well as other islands in the Aegean Sea by ship and ferry. The elegant neoclassical mansions in Kyprou Street, built in the nineteenth century, are snapshots of the past. In the city centre the old tobacco warehouses still give forth a strong smell of tobacco, although most of them have been transformed info night clubs, cafes or malls. Enjoy a stroll along the waterfront and run your eyes over the fishing boats. Churches either perched on hillocks or interspersed throughout the city have their own history. The city is vibrant with life day and night: government departments are busy in the daytime while entertainment takes the lead in the night time. People are, above all, generous in offering hospitality.
Kavala is an important port on the Balkan Peninsula of old. Neapolis - Christoupolis - Kavala are its historical names. It has been inhabited since Neolithic times. In the 7th century BC it was a Thassian colony under the name of Neapolis and later it joins the Athenian Alliance. It gains great prosperity during the Macedonian rule, after Philip II has annexed it, its harbour serving Philippi. Romans upgrade the major trade port by having Via Egnatia run through it but as the same time it is made the target of Goth and Hun raids. Paul the Apostle comes to Neapoli to preach the Christian faith in Europe. Byzantine times, when the town is renamed 'Christoupolis' is a prosperous period; however, Norman ravages and Turkish occupation put an abrupt stop to it. The important monument of the old aqueduct, nowadays known as Kamares, dates from that period. From one arched gate to the other, centuries put on a new face. Liberated in the early twentieth century, international centre of tobacco trade and hub of cultural activity, Kavala gains greater prosperity thanks to the Greek refugees from Asia Minor. Kavala's course in history is alive at every step you take. In the Archaeological Museum of Kavala, there are unique exhibits, such as remains of Athena Perthenos's Temple and other exhibits from the whole region, namely from Oisymi, Galypsos, Dikili Tass, Nikisiani and Avdira.
Kavala at the seasideYou can find a beach within a stone's throw from the city centre. Plenty of sandy, clean beaches, most of which have been awarded the Blue Flag, are waiting to be discovered and can provide a wide range of tourist facilities; keep these names in mind: Kalamitsa, Batis, Tosca, Patio, Perigiali. Everybody enjoys the sea and not few play beach volleyball which kas become very popular among bathers. Cheerful music at beach bars and fresh juices set the scene for good fun. Seaside taverns serve fresh fish and sea-food together with luscious local wine and tsipouro which can put you in the best mood. The west coast of the prefecture of Kavala is a challenge to holiday- makers. The seaside villages or "Ghialohoria ", as they are widely known (at a I distance of 15km from Kavala) stretch along an indented coastline with vast sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.
Nea IraklitsaA charming seaside resort with a long-stretching sandy beach. There are hotels, a wide range of tourist facilities and the appropriate infrastructure for climbing and diving lovers. Restaurants and cafes found along the seafront lend lraklitsa a cosmopolitan look. You can explore several caves on the islets of Kokkina, Fidonissi and Panagia by boat.
Nea PeramosThe capital of a municipality comprising three villages, has all that tourist facilities which can make holidays unforgettable. "Ammolofi" (the Greek' word for sand dunes), which stretch for miles is one of the most popular beaches in Greece. Hotels, rooms to let and a campsite, can provide you with comfortable accommodation. You can relish fresh I fish washed down with local tsipouro. At the far end, the Byzantine, Anaktoroupolis towers over the village and commands a fine view of it. Eleftheron Bay is ideal for non professional fishing!
Akti Ofryniou (Touzla)Holiday destination with tourist facilities all along the shore: hotels, rooms to let and a campsite cater for the holiday-makers who can be assured of a splendid stay. Quaint fish-taverns and exciting night life. A short distance away, one can visit the estuary of the river Strymonas and the ancient city of Amphipolis.
Beaches of KavalaAll along the coastal zone (50 km long) you can discover the most attractive beaches you have ever seen, sunbathe on fine sand and swim in sparkling waters. Apart from Ammolofi, other beaches that cater for tourists are Almira, Akti Folias, Akti Eleochoriou, Sarakina and Karyani.
The city of Filippi was at the height of its fame for several centuries. It was founded by Thasians in 359 BC; the king of Macedonia Philip II conquered it in 356 BC and renamed it after him. At a distance of 15km from Kavala, visitors can see monuments of three historical periods: the ancient, Roman and Byzantine era. The well-maintained ancient theatre, a section of Via Egnatia, the watts, the Forum, the early Christian Basillicas, the Octagon and the dungeon where Paul the Apostle had been held prisoner, are true evidence of Filippi's great prosperity. In the archaeological museum there are unique prehistoric ancient, Roman and Byzantine exhibits dug up at Dikili Tas or at the archaeological site of Filippi. In 41 BC, Antony fought (the well-known battle) against Brutus and Kasius at Filippi marked the end of democracy in Rome and the beginning of imperial years. Paul the Apostle Game to Filippi as well to preach the Christian faith for the first time in Europe (49 BC); it is there that he baptized Lydia, the first Christian in Europe, in the waters of the river Zygaktis. A church consecrated to her and an outdoor baptistery were erected at that very place. In summer, an ancient drama festival is held at the ancient theatre of Filippi.
The first Christian town in Europe
Sightseeing in Kavala
- The castle in Kavala The castle crowns the city. The fist wall was built in the 5th century BG. Later fortifications were successively built on that wall in Byzantine and post Byzantine times. The Turks, in their turn repaired the existing walls and fortified the old city in order to feel safe.
- The citadel in Filippi The ruined citadel lies on a knoll over the archaeological site of Philippi. It was used as a lookout post in post-Byzantine times. The views of Mt Pangaion which towers over the plain of Philippi opening before your eyes are fantastic.
- The castle at Paleochori This Byzantine castle lies on a hillside lust opposite Filippi's citadel above the village of Paleochori. The view from the castle is breathtaking as you run your eyes over the Filippi plain as far as the mountains in Drama.
- Anaktoroupoli at Nea Peramos This Byzantine castle is situated on the headland of Vrasidas at Nea Peramos. Only part of the walls have survived through time. It was used as a watchtower of the local port.
The tower at Apollonia Those travelling from Nea Peramos to the Baths of Eleftheres on the road along the coast are able to sec this tower. The fortress was built to guide ships and watch over the area.
- The castle at Orfani on the hill opposite the village of Orfani are the remains of a castle obviously built in Byzantine times. The whole area is interspersed with ruins of ancient settlements, which are the vestiges of development that the area around the important ancient city of Amphipolis achieved.
- Panagia Kavala's foundation stone. Built on the ruins of the first Thassian colony used to be the heart of the city until the end of the nineteenth century. The castle casts its shadow on this old district of outstanding beauty. Few alterations have been made that Panagia remains as picturesque as ever. Take a walk on traditional paving and follow the scent of gardens ablaze with colour. The sea smiles a greeting through the narrow alleys. While ascending you can discover Plenty of beautiful spots or run your eyes over the city. Mehmet Ali's residence is located right at the top of the headland; Imaret looks down on the harbour. You can have a rest at picturesque taverns or cafeterias. Time takes you back to former times. This is the most authentic example of traditional architecture in Macedonia.
Historical towns and villages in the region of Mount PaggeoPravi or Eleftheroupoli, as it is currently called, used to be the regional centre of commerce and handicraft until the middle of the twentieth century. One can marvel at traditional Macedonian architecture, large tobacco warehouses and mansions or take a stroll around the winding narrow roads. The villages of Nikissiani, Messoropi and Moustheni have kept their traditional character almost intact.
Perched on hillsides, these places of worship and monastic contemplation, offer some space to anyone who wishes to attend divine service and pray. The imposing monastery of lkossifinissa, considered to be a cradle of orthodoxy in the whole region, lies in a ravine near the village of Nikissiani. Built in the 4th century AD by venerable Germanos, it has been the spiritual centre of the area for many centuries. Saint Dionyssios stayed in the monastery for a long time. There are over 150 cells while the church is decorated with fine mural paintings and a magnificent icon screen. All around Mountain Paggeo, one can visit the monastery of St Panteleimonas at Chryssokastro, the monastery of Ypapanti (Presentation of Christ in the Temple) on the way to the top of the mountain, lying very near the remains of an old village, Panagia Paggeotissa above the village of Chortokopi and the monastery of St Dimitrios at Nikissiani.
Monasteries on Mountain Paggaio
Many of these monasteries overlook Mount Athos. Natural beauty and myth in perfect harmony. Land of the Hedones, initiated info Orphic mysteries later on, the whole mountainous area around Mountain Paggeo was famed for gold mines and the city of Skaptini in particular. It is there that Alexander the Great had the greatest amount of gold used in his expedition to Asia extracted from. interspersed with sanctuaries, the area used to be a Place of worship through centuries. At the villages of Kipia and Akropotamos, there are remains of early Christian churches dating back to the 6th century AD; at Eleftheroupoli, the historic church of Agios Nikolaos was built on the remains of an early Christian basilica; arched Byzantine bridges and churches still exist at Messoropi and Nikissiani. Mountain Paggeo, 1956 meters above sea level, is covered with chestnut trees, beaches and oaks; an asphalt road goes up to the mountain top. At the top there is a spacious ski run and a refuge for climbers. Midway you can stop at the chalet 'Dassiko Chorio', where you can have a meal as well as find lodging. Besides, on the way up to the top there are barbecue facilities and springs with running fresh water. The mountainsides are ideal for climbing. Besides being the administrative centre in the area, the historic town of Eleftheroupoli is vibrant with life and people go out to elegant restaurants in the old district as well as on the surrounding hillsides. The towering tobacco warehouses are bring back memories of a bright past. A trip to Nikissiani, Paleochori, Moustheni, Platanotopos, Kipia, Podochori, Avli, and Messoropi and a meal at quaint taverns in the shade of perennial plane trees having the murmur of spring water in your ears can convince you of Mountain. Paggeo's perfect beauty.
A setting overflowed with file, ideal for those looking for adventure. Rich in flora and fauna, it has been recognized as one of the five most important wetlands in Europe. The Nestos Narrows stretching for 22 km are of exquisite beauty and ecological interest. Nature lovers can enjoy hiking on the European path E6 while marveling at glorious scenery and finding rare wild flowers or go down the river by canoe or kayak. Farther into the forest, you may see the wild Liverian horses. The Great aquatic Forest or Kotza Orman which boasts luxuriant vegetation, abundant creepers, rare bird and animal species is a real paradise. The six Lagoons spreading out from Nea Karvali as far as the Nestos, is a complex of takes and marshes providing shelter for migratory birds. The dreamlike Nestos Delta stretches for 27km. At the riverbanks there is a recreation ground where hikers can rest. It is the habitat of herons, cormorants and flamingos. Chrissoupoli. Situated near the river it is the financial and cultural centre of the Nestos eparchy. Visit the villages which are set within the green mountains of Lekani and breathe in the fresh air. Do not miss a walk through the virgin oak forest where you can enjoy the peace and quiet and experience the riot of tastes, scents and images around you. The picturesque seaside resort of Keramoti is an ideal holiday destination. You can enjoy swimming at Ammoglossa and eating fresh fish at the taverns alongside the waterfront. In Kavala cultural heritage and contemporary cultural creation are interwoven. All year round people express themselves through various events. Every single village in the prefecture of Kavala celebrates its own feast days and organizes fairs and festivals. One of the most important ancient drama summer festivals in Greece has been held at the ancient theatre of Filippi for the past 40 years.
The Nestos river of life
'Eleftheria' include a series of cultural events held to celebrate the city's liberation from the Turks. At Akontisma, Nea Karvali, you can attend the 'Sun and Stone' festival with dance performances from all over the world. At Nikissiani, the custom of 'Arapides' is revived during the last twelve days of the year: people wearing big bells round their necks enact the end of life and revival in nature. "Dances of the world". Is organized, in Kavala, every July, by the "Lykion Ellinidon" a cultural union. In that event dancing groups from all the world participate and visit every part of the prefecture. The 'Grape festival' held at Eleoehori is the leading event in the area. At Lekani (50km away from Kavala), a Place of outstanding natural beauty, the Potato Festival marks the coming of autumn. At Chrissoupoli, the local Folk Festival is a very important summer event attracting many visitors to the music and dance performances held. The history of a Place is culture as well. If you visit the Municipal Museum of Kavala, you will be able to see costumes, jewelry, needlework as well as the Historical Records of Kavala. There are also paintings and sculptures created by important Greek artists. The sculptor from Thassos Polygnotos Vagis's works are displayed in a separate room.
For those who would prefer to spend their time in a bustling modern city and look for excitement, there is a wide choice: bars, discos and night clubs This land has been dispensing its healing blessing to those who need it for a long time. At Loutra Eleftheron (a spa near the village of Eleftheres) there are mineral water springs, the necessary facilities (bathtubs, pump rooms, for treatment as well accommodation of high quality. Mineral water is ideal for rheumatics and gynecological complaints. The peaceful scenery and abundant water springs offer a tranquil setting where you are assured of a relaxed stay. There are mud-baths at the village of Krinides; thanks to its curative powers, that mud is recommended for orthopedic, kidney, pulmonary and gynecological complaints. There are hotels, rooms to let and restaurants around.
Places of interest in Macedonia (the 13 prefectures)Thessaloniki, Halkidiki (Chalkidiki), Kavala, Drama, Serres, Kilkis, Pella, Imathia, Pieria, Florina, Kozani, Grevena and Kastoria.
Source: Prefecture Commission for Tourist Promotion of Kavalla and The Hellenic Tourism Organisation