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
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.
to See : Polygiros is the capital of Chalcidiki, and here you can
visit an interesting archaeological museum and a folklore
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,
In Kallithea you can visit the archaeological site where temples
to Zeus and
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
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
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
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
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.
4000 sq. km
Population: about 80 000
Airport:: In Thessaloniki
Internet cafe: Yes
Price rate: Average
Local code: various
Health Centre: (23740)23950, Cassandra (23710) 24021-7,
(23750) 71208, Neos Marmaras
Police: (23740)22204, Cassandra (23750)71111, Neos
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
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