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Chalkidiki

Many people think Chalkidiki, birthplace of Aristotle, is the perfect place for holidays, since it has everything a Greek island should have, without being one, as well as being close to interesting places to visit, as well as the capital of northern Greece Thessaloniki. It is green and beautiful, with lovely beaches and a good nightlife (depending on where you stay!)

Chalkidiki consists of a peninsula with three parts, often referred to as "the legs" by the Greeks. The first one is called Cassandra, the second one Sithonia. There are summer resorts on these two "legs" but the third is a state of its own.
It is Agios Oros, often called Mt Athos, and is an autonomous area of monasteries. Even though there are boattrips to this peninsula, only men with special permits are allowed on land, so most boats just sail along the coast.

History  It is almost hard to believe, but the oldest human skeleton in the world has been found here. A 700 000 year old settlement in the cave of Petralona was found in the 1960, and is open to visitors.

In Greek mythology, this is also described as a place of origin. When the giants or Titans revolted against the gods, this is were the battle took place. The gods won, and some of the Titans were buried under the three peninsulas of Chalkidiki. The ancient Greeks would call Cassandra "Flegra" ("Fireplace") and that's were the giants were born. Another name for it was Pallene, the daughter of the giant Sithonas who in turn have given his name to the second peninsula. The giant Engelados was buried under Cassandra, and every once in a while he tries to get out, causing the earth to tremble. To this day, the phrase "Engleados has struck" meaning "there's been an earthquake" is used in modern Greek. Mt. Athos was named after the giant Atho.

Chalkidiki has a very rich history, starting in the Bronze age as a commercial centre, going through the Persians wars, and becoming part of the Macedonian empire. In the 2nd century BC the Romans invaded Greece and Chalkidiki was used as an important commercial and strategically foothold.

During the Byzantine empire Agios Oros started developing and the first monasteries were built. For a long time Chalkidiki was under Serbian rule.

In the 15th century it was conquered by the Turks, and they also used Chalkidiki as a center for both financial and military activities.

The war of Independence started in 1821, and the people of Chalkidiki not only had to fight the Turkish oppressors, but was also threatened by Bulgaria. Chalkidiki was freed in 1912. Ten years later, the catastrophy of Asia Minor happened, when the Greek population of Turkey was chased out of the country, and many sought refuge here.

What to See : Polygiros is the capital of Chalcidiki, and here you can visit an interesting archaeological museum and a folklore museum.

CASSANDRA
The cave of Petralona is just outside the village of the same name, and is a stalactite cave where the 700 000 year old skeleton was found. There is an archaeological museum here were findings from the cave can be seen.



Nea Fokea is a picturesque village by the sea where the Apostle Paul is said to have stayed. Here, you can see the Tower of St. Paul, the holy well of the apostle, as well as a monastery.

Nea Potideia has a castle where the rebellious Greeks would hide while fighting the Turks during the war of Independence. It also has an interesting church,
Ag. Taxiarches.

In Kallithea you can visit the archaeological site where temples to Zeus and Dionysus stood.


SITHONIA

Neos Marmaras has a monastery open to visitors called Tripotamus. You can also visit the Byzantine settlement Parthenon which today is deserted.

In Nikiti there are some very interesting churches. Amongst others, there is the chapel of St. Paul, the 5th century church of St. George, as well as a monastery.

Of course, these are just a few examples of interesting places. There are so many nice villages and sights here, that a complete site would be needed to cover them. It is a great experience to explore Chalkidiki, either by bus or by renting a vehicle.

What to Do Chalkidiki is a very big area, and apart from the many lovely beaches and villages, there are golf courses, tennis courts, beach volley tournaments as well as many happenings for children, like touring circuses.

There are also daytrips to places like Vergina, where the tomb of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, was found in the seventies. You can also visit the archaeological site of Pella, the ancient capital of the Macedonians.

Thessaloniki is a big city, and perhaps that's not a place you'd like to go during your summer holidays. It is an interesting place, though, with a big archaeological and Byzantine museum, many excavations going on, art galleries, clubs with or without live music, bars and restaurants. Excursions to Meteora are also offered, as well as daytrips to MT Olympus.

Beaches There are so many beaches in Chalkidiki that it would be a shame not to mention them all. Both Cassandra and Sithonia has long sandy beaches. Have a look at the map where the best known beaches are marked.

Nightlife  Chalkidiki has both quiet villages and more busy holiday resorts If you really want some clubbing, your best bets are probably Neos Marmaras on Sithonia, or Kallithea, Nea Potidea, Chanioti and Pefkochori on Cassandra Polygyros is the capital of Chalkidiki and also has many bars and clubs.

Food Just like anywhere else in Greece - the best taverns are those with lots of Greeks in them. You'll find a wide variety of restaurants in Chalkidiki, with international food in the larger towns, and many local specialities in the villages. Ask the waiter when you order, it might no be on the menu. All over there are locally made wines and sweets as well.

Shopping As with the food, many places produce their own speciality. You'll find many shops in Polygyros and the larger summer resorts. In the villages there are usual smaller shops with local handicraft like textiles, wood carved objects and clothes.

Getting Around Local buses can take you to almost all the villages and towns, and there are also cars and bikes for rent. See below for telephone numbers

Getting There The nearest airport is in Thessaloniki, and from there you can take a bus, which takes about 1,5-2 hours, depending on where you are going.

Facts about Chalkidiki* Phone numbers*
Size: about 4000 sq. km
Population: about 80 000
Airport:: In Thessaloniki
Cashmachine: Yes
Internet cafe: Yes
Highest Mountain:
Price rate: Average
International code: 0030
Local code: various
Health Centre: (23740)23950, Cassandra (23710) 24021-7, Polygiros hospital
(23750) 71208, Neos Marmaras
Police: (23740)22204, Cassandra (23750)71111, Neos Marmaras
Port Police: (23730)41082 Nea Potidea
Bus company: (23710)22309, Polygiros
(23740) 22214, Cassandra
Tourist Police: (23740)23333 Cassandra
Fire Brigade: (23710)22644 Polygiros
Taxi: (23750)71500, Neos Marmaras
(23710)22460, Polygiros

*The info displayed may be inaccurate. If changes have been made, please let us know.

Webmistress swedewheel V.E.K. Sandels

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