Chalkidiki TOWNS


Photo The traditional market town of Arnea was founded in the 16th century and is the capital of the province of Arnea and seat of the metropolis of Ierissos, Mount Athos, and Ardamerion. It is 70 km from Thessaloniki, 38 km from Poligiros and has about 3,500 inhabitants. One should not fail to visit its preserved traditional settlement. It contains several mansions, a 19th century two-storey building in the shape of a , a school built in 1872, and the Town Hall, which was built in 1870. Other significant sights are the coppice of Agia Paraskevi and the ancient city on Profitis Ilias hill, 3 km north of the town. In recent years, Arnea has been the object of an effort made by the "Society for the Development of Chalkidiki" to strengthen the tourism of the area. This effort also concerns other sectors, such as handicraft, folk arts, environment, tourist development of the forests etc.


Photo The picturesque inland village of Fourka is 66 km south of Poligiros and is built on greenclad land. It has about 700 inhabitants. Of particular interest are the architecture of its buildings and its two churches one of which is embellished with 16th century frescoes.


Photo The large village of Galatista is built 28 km north-west of Poligiros, on the site of ancient Anthemounda, which was captured by the Macedonians in the 6th century BC. It was founded in 897 and in 1500 passed into the possession of the vizier Ishak pasha. Up until 1900, several hagiographic workshops flourished in the area. The village has 2,800 inhabitants. Of particular note are; a 14th century tower in its centre, its traditional houses, as well as the 19th century churches of Agios Georgios, Our Lady, Agios Dimitrios, Agia Paraskevi, and Agios Nikolaos.


Photo The small market town of Ierissos is built on the site of ancient Akanthos (Thorn). It is 80 km from Poligiros and about 132 km from Thessaloniki. It has been settled since prehistoric times and was celebrated all over the ancient world for its excellent white wine, the "Akanthian wine". It probably takes its name either from the many thorn bushes of the area or from its thorn fortification. The old settlement was destroyed completely by the catastrophic earthquake of 1932 and a new one was built a bit further to the north. Today, Ierissos is a big holiday resort of about 3,000 inhabitants which attracts many tourists in the summer months. Significant sights of the area are the remains of the castle and the Byzantine church and the tower of Krouna which is preserved almost intact. One should also visit Xerxes' Canal which is 5 km east of the town and was never completed.


Photo Kalithea (Lovely View), which is also known as Maltepe, belongs to the prefecture of Chalkidiki and has about 450 inhabitants. It was founded in 1922 by refugees from Asia Minor on the site of the sanctuary of Ammon Zeus, which belonged to Afitos in antiquity. It probably owes its name to the magnificent view from its square. Today, it is the most cosmopolitan holiday resort on the peninsula of Kassandra. It is 94 km from Thessaloniki and 51 km from Poligiros. The sanctuary of Ammon Zeus, of which parts of the temple and the area of the altar have been excavated, is worth visiting. Another important sight is the sanctuary of Dionysus and the Nymphs, of which a stone staircase carved into a rock and a cave under it have been brought to light.


Photo Kassandria is the only borough and at the same time the administrative and commercial centre of Chalkidiki. It has about 4,000 inhabitants and is 80 km from Thessaloniki and 55 km from Poligiros. It is built on the mainland of Kassanadra peninsula and its haven is Siviri with its excellent beach. Kassandria is a developing market town with considerable tourist infrastracture. Its public service offices, banks and shopping centres cover its residents' every need. It is obvious what a big effort has been made for the protection of the environment, especially by the school children. The local authorities also struggle for the upgrading of the place. Kassandria enjoyed great prosperity during the 16th century and had housed the consulates of France and Holland. After 1821, people from the neighbouring settlements, which had been destroyed, settled here. Some of its buildings still preserve elements of the 19th century folk architecture. One of the most significant sights of Chalkidiki is the post-Christian bas relief lintel which embellishes the Cathedral of the town.


Photo Nea Fokea is a seaside village on the peninsula of Kassandra and has a population of about 1,600 inhabitants. It is 42 km from Poligiros and 86 km from Thessaloniki. Its settlement was founded in 1922 by refugees from Asia Minor but the area has been settled since prehistoric times. In 1407, it was granted to the Mount Athos Monastery of the Apostle Paul by Ioannis Palaeologos the 7th. The tower of the Apostle Paul is believed to have been built around that time. One should visit the Agiasma Apostolou Pavlou, a carved rock east of the settlement whose basin contained holy water. Another significant sight is the tower of Stavronikitas, inside the tourist complex "Sani", which protected the dependents of the Monastery of the Apostle Paul.


Photo Nea Kalikratia is a large fishing village of about 5,500 inhabitants, 53 km west of Poligiros. It was founded after 1922 by refugees from Kalikratia of East Thrace and is the newest borough of Chalkidiki. In the Classical years, there was a town which has not been identified yet on the site of the present one. Excavations on the area brought to light a tombstone with a gable depicting a girl with a pigeon in her hand. One can admire it in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. Near Nea Kalikratia, Antigonos built Antigonia in 280 BC. In 168 BC it was captured by the Romans, and in the 15th century it passed into the possession of the Turks. One should not fail to visit the natural fortified acropolis of Antigonia and taste its famed fruits and garden produce.


Photo Nea Moudania is a modern holiday resort of 6,000 inhabitants, 27 km south-west of Poligiros. It was founded in 1923 by the Commitee of Rehabilitation of Refugees and belongs administratively to South Kalamaria. It is 62 km from Thessaloniki and is the biggest commercial centre of Chalkidiki with all kinds of shops. Its fish-pier is one of the biggest in the Mediterranean. Excavations have brought to light buildings of the Classical and Hellenistic era but there is no histocical evidence about the area. Significant sights of Nea Moudania are the park of Panagia Koryfini, the tower of Zografos, and the monastery dependency of Agios Panteleimon.


Photo Nea Potidea was founded in 1922 by refugees from eastern Thrace on the site of ancient Potidea or Pallini. Its history goes back to the early 17th century when it was still a Corinthian colony. Even in ancient years, it played a large role due to its strategic position between Thermaic and the Toroneos Gulfs. Today, Nea Potidea is a modern town, a significant holiday resort and an important harbour. It has about 900 inhabitants, is built at the mouth of Kassandra's peninsula and is 33 km south-west of Poligiros. One should visit the remains of the castle which the rebellious islanders barricaded themselves inside of in 1821. Other significant sights include its canal and the church of the Taxiarches, which was founded in 1591 and is dependent on the Mount Athos Dochiarion Monastery.


Photo The market town of Neos Marmaras lies on the peninsula of Sithonia, 55 km from the south-eastern side of Poligiros and 126 km from Thessaloniki. It has about 2,600 inhabitants and draws a great number of tourists in the summer months. It was founded in 1922 by refugees from Asia Minor. In 1970, people from the neighbouring settlement of Parthenon established themselves there. Before 1922, it belonged to the Mount Athos Monastery of St Gregory. During the Byzantine era, a fortification wall was built to protect the harbour. Today only remains of it still stand. Other significant sights, besides the abandoned traditional settlement of Parthenon, is the monastery dependency Tripotamos, the Itamos summit of Sithonia with its magnificent view, and the island of Kelyfos.


Photo The inland village of Nikiti lies on the peninsula of Sithonia. It is 36 km from the south-east side of Poligiros and 105 km from Thessaloniki. The large village of Nikiti is built on a location with an abundance of ancient ruins. Ancient Galipsus used to stand here, as did Fiskella and Parthenopolis next to it. Significant sights include houses which have been built from 1830 onwards the 16th century Church of the Assumption of the Virgin, the 5th century early-Christian basilica of St George, the three-aisled basilica of Elia, the Chapel of the Apostle Paul, and the Monastery of the Annunciation in Vatopedi. Today, the village numbers about 2,500 inhabitants.


Photo The community of Ouranoupoli lies 147 km from Thessaloniki and 94 km from Poligiros. It was founded by refugees from Asia Minor in an area which belonged to the dependency of the Mount Athos Monastery of Vatopedi since the 13th century. Today, Ouranoupoli has about 780 inhabitants and is the main harbour of Mount Athos. It is famous for its sandy beaches and crystalline waters. One should visit the Prosforiou fortress, the biggest tower in Chalkidiki, which was built in 1344 to protect the monastery's dependency. Other significant sights are the traditional monastery dependency building of 1903 and the 13th century castle Fragokastro, 3 km east of the village.


Photo The rich town of Poligiros, capital of Chalkidiki, is only 67 km from Thessaloniki and 587 km from Athens. Its houses spread out amphitheatrically on the slopes of mount Profitis Ilias. The surrounding area is very fertile, full of vineyards, olive groves, and fruit trees. According to tradition, the town of Poligiros used to be 6.5 km to the south in Selio but was transported to its present site to be safe from the pirates. The name Poligiros was mentioned for the first time in the11th century, when it was dependent on the monastery of Iviri at Mount Athos. During the Turkish domination, it enjoyed great prosperity. In the present town, with its 5,000 inhabitants, the Archaeological Museum and some of its traditional neighbourhoods are worth visiting. All the public service offices of Chalkidiki are also in Poligiros.


Photo Vavdos is the village with the highest altitude of Chalkidiki. It is built 938 metres above sea level and it is 52 km from Thessaloniki and 28 km from Poligiros. Only a few decades ago, it was a traditional mountainous resort. Its parish church has an early-christian stone monolithic pulpit which indicates that the area was settled in post-Roman times. Another significant sight is the huge plane tree in the village square, which has been listed as a "protected natural monument" by the ministry of Agriculture. Vavdos has about 800 inhabitants, most of which work in the mines on the outskirts of the village.