Kasandra, Chalkidiki, Central Macedonia (Greece)

What to See in Kasandra, Chalkidiki, Central Macedonia (Greece)

According to fashionissupreme, the peninsula of Chalkidiki is located in the northeastern part of Greece and is washed by the waters of the Aegean Sea. It juts out into the sea for 120 km, forming three ledges: the peninsulas of Kasandra, Sithonia and Aion-Oros (Athos). According to legend, titans lived here – rivals of the gods. In a battle with them, the god of the sea, Poseidon, lost his trident: this is how the peninsula of Halkidiki arose. Athos got its name in honor of one of the titans who wanted to throw it at the gods. Sithonia was named after one of the sons of Poseidon, and Cassandra was named after one of the kings of Macedonia.

History of Halkidiki began 600,000 years ago, as evidenced by the remains of an ancient man found in the cave of Petralona. The very first mentions of the peninsula in history are found in Herodotus’ descriptions of the Persian wars. The name “Chalkidiki” was originally used to designate the capital of the peninsula. At that time, it had close relations with the large Greek cities of Chalkis and Eretria, which built at the beginning of the 10th century BC. There are many colonies in this area. The whole peninsula began to be called Halkidiki at a later time.

The peninsula is the birthplace of Aristotle. Following the Chalcidians and Eretrians, the Athenians, Spartans and Corinthians appear here. In the most convenient places, various cities arise one after another: Olynthos, Stagira, Potidea, Skioni, Apolonia and others. Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, in 348 BC, managed to subjugate 30 cities of Halkidiki. The peninsula became part of the Macedonian state, the cities were destroyed, and the inhabitants were sold into slavery. The steady interest that the Athenians, Spartans, Corinthians and Macedonians showed in Halkidiki was due to the presence of timber reserves here (for building ships) and rich deposits of various metals.

During the period of Turkish rule, the territory became one of the provinces of the Ottoman Empire, without being distinguished by anything special. Later, during the Balkan wars of 1912-13, it served as a base for the material supply of the Greek partisans and played an important role in the liberation of Northern Greece from the Turkish yoke.

Today Halkidiki is one of the largest tourist centers in Greece. Its coastline is one of the cleanest in Europe: 42 beaches have the “Blue Flag” for the purity of the water and sand. No less attractive are the resort villages, immersed in greenery, and the surrounding pine forests. It is interesting to ride a bicycle or motorcycle around the peninsula, which can be rented for several hours, a day or a week.

At the entrance to the peninsula, there is a small village of Petralona, not far from which, at an altitude of 250 m, there is a cave of the same name. The cave contains columns, stalactites, stalagmites and flat, round stone formations of various sizes. A 600-meter tourist route has been laid through the halls of the cave. However, the cave became famous not only and not so much because of its beauty, but thanks to a rare find – the remains of the oldest man in Europe. In addition to the skull of a Neanderthal and the bones of animals from the prehistoric era, traces of fires were also found, which, according to scientists, are the oldest traces of the use of fire by man found to this day. All finds are exhibited in the anthropological museum built next to the cave.

The most popular of the “fingers” of the peninsula is Kassandra with picturesque sandy beaches, pine groves and magnificent bays. It is the most populous area of Halkidiki. It is washed from the east by the Toronic Gulf, from the west by Thessaloniki. At the narrowest point, the bays are connected by the Potidea Canal, which makes it possible for small ships not to go around the peninsula during sea voyages. The main hotels of various categories are concentrated here. Most of the villages are located along the coast. The most famous of them are Nea Moudania, Nea Fokea, Nea Potidea, Afytos, Kallithea, Chanioti and Pefkohori. In all you can find pedestrian streets, well-groomed parks, equipped sandy beaches, children’s and sports grounds.

Nea Moudania is located 57 km from Thessaloniki. In the 19th century there was a small harbor with a pier where ships were loaded. Today it is a major tourist center with shops, taverns, restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, central bank branches, and a post office. Those who are lucky enough to be here in mid-July will be able to take part in the annual Sardine Festival. The holiday is filled with various events and includes a grand feast, where you can taste many types of fish, seafood delicacies and local wines.

Nea Fokea is located on the west coast of Kassandra, 72 km from Thessaloniki. This is a relatively small tourist center, which is actively developing. According to tradition, the Apostle Paul or the Apostle of the Nations passed by this place. The witness of his visit is the preserved underground holy spring. In 1407, St. Paul’s Tower was erected in the village. The base of the tower covers an area of 49 m 2 and a height of 17 m. In all likelihood, it was built to protect the monastery of St. Paul. Of all the buildings of the monastery, a small chapel dating back to the 19th century has also come down to us.

Nea Potidea removed from Thessaloniki at 64 km. It is a place with a very rich history dating back to the 6th century BC when it was a colony of Corinth. In the time of Stravo, in the 1st c. AD, a canal was dug in the village, connecting the Toronic and Thessaloniki bays. The length of the canal is 1250 m, width – 40 m and depth – 9 m. In ancient times, the position of the city, thanks to the canal, was considered strategic and it became one of the largest in Halkidiki. After the invasion of the Huns in 540, Potidea, like the entire peninsula of Kassandra, fell into decay. It was restored several more times, and in 1430 it was conquered by the Turks. Today, Nea Potidea is a thriving town with shops, a branch of the Central Bank of Greece, medical center, pharmacy, police, post office, cafes, bars, taverns, as well as from July to August – a mini amusement park.

Afytos is a traditional Greek village 77 km from Thessaloniki. In the center is the church of St. Demetrius, built in 1858. This is the only church in Chalkidiki built in the style of a domed basilica. Next to the church, in an old restored building, there is a small ethnographic museum. The beach of the village is only a few hundred meters away. You have to go down to it from a steep slope, but the reward for this effort will be the golden sand and the calm sea of ​​the picturesque coast.

The name of the village Kalithea translates as “beautiful sight”. This is a lively tourist place, the nightlife here subsides only with the first rays of the sun. And during the day you can soak up the clean beaches. Kallithea is known for the fact that in ancient times there were sanctuaries of Zeus-Ammon and Dionysus, as evidenced by the ruins of these temples. The temple of Zeus-Ammon, standing near the sea, had six Doric columns on its transverse sides and eleven on the longitudinal ones. Judging by the proportions of the entire structure, the temple was built in the 4th century BC. e. The main building material was local limestone, and the entire surface was faced with a layer of white marble.

Chanioti is located 96 km southeast of Thessaloniki .. This is another place to go if you like to hang out. There are many shops and taverns, souvenir and jewelry shops.

Pefkohori is 99 km away from Thessaloniki. This is the third busiest point of Kassandra. Also, this place is famous for the nearby beaches of Glarokavos, Kira Maria and Kanatitsa.

Synthonia, the second “finger”, can be called the park area of the peninsula. This is an ideal place for lovers of secluded relaxation and untouched nature. Its most popular resorts are Metamorfosi, Nikiti, Neas Marmaras and Vourvourou Bay.

Metamorfosi is not yet well known among tourists, so you can enjoy a relaxing holiday here. Not far from the village to the north is the convent of the Annunciation of the Virgin.

Nikiti was founded in 1700 on the site of the ancient city of Galypsos. The main part of this region belonged to the large monasteries of Athos Xenophontos, Megistis Lavras and Xiropotamou. In Nikiti, the church of the Assumption of the Virgin of the XIV century has been preserved, and in the old part – houses built in 1830-1860. According to legend, here in the olive groves, the mermaid Persephone was abducted by Hephaestus on the golden chariot of Zeus.

Neas Marmaras is the largest village in Synthonia with a good promenade, an abundance of places where you can eat and have fun. The village is surrounded by amazingly beautiful bays and pine forests. Nearby are a casino, a golf course and several discos.

In the Gulf of Vourvourou there is a group of 9 sandy islands overgrown with pine trees. The largest of them is Diaporos. The islets have their own small beaches, which are considered the most exotic in Synthonia.

Athos, or as the Greeks call it Aion-Oros (Holy Mountain), is the most beautiful of the peninsulas. It protrudes for 50 km into the Aegean Sea and has a width of 10 km. Mount Athos is located in the southeastern part of Aion Oros, with a height of 2033 m. Monks settled on the peninsula for almost two millennia, and so far civilization has not penetrated into this corner of Greece. In prehistoric times, there were Greek settlements that became cities: Dion, Kleones, Haradria, Olofixosi, Sani, and on the top of Mount Athos there were temples dedicated to various deities, including Zeus. The Byzantine codices kept in the library of the monastery of Megistis Lavras tell about the visit of the Mother of God to Aion-Oros. According to these documents, when the apostles drew lots to decide where each of them should go to spread the gospel, the Mother of God also participated. As a result, she went to Macedonia and, in particular, to Athos, where she was met by all the locals. The Virgin was accompanied by Saint John.

Athos is the only Orthodox Monastic Republic where they live according to church canons. There are 20 monasteries here: Greek, Bulgarian, Russian, Serbian and Romanian – they all enjoy the right of self-government. They are built in the Byzantine style with fortifications in the form of high walls and towers in the form of small towns. Some of them are built on large rocks, natural defensive positions. Cruises are organized around Athos, and men have the opportunity to visit the Russian St. Panteleimon Monastery. Women have been banned from entering the territory of the Republic for more than ten centuries. The cruise ends at the port of Ouranoupoli, built around a 14th-century Byzantine tower. A few kilometers from Ouranoupoli there are hotels of different categories, located one after another near the sea, with a panoramic view of the nearby island of Ammouliani and the eastern coast of the peninsula of Sithonia.

Kasandra, Chalkidiki, Central Macedonia (Greece)

About the author