The Medieval Aqueduct, is work of the Byzantine period, which held extensive repairs during the Ottoman rule, particularly during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent and Legislator (1530 AD approx.) This double arch structure was designed to bridge the peninsula of Panagia with the foot of the mountain of Lekani. It was used to carry water from mountain sources (six kilometers north from the 'Mother of Water "or" Soumpasi "or" The Three Elms") in today's" Old Town "- Panagia, with the main water source situated at an altitude of 400 m and other complementary lower sources of supply. This grand monument has a length of 280 m consists of 60 arches of four different sizes and has a maximum height of 25 meters. The restoration works began in September 1997 with a mild technical assistance.
Mehmet Ali Pasha House
In the Old Town Square you can find the house that Mehmet Ali, founder and Governor of the last Egyptian dynasty, was born. This beautiful building, based on Macedonian architecture, is considered to be the property of Egypt .
The "konak" of Mehmet Ali consists of two parts, the ground floor and first floor. A bronze equestrian statue was built in the centre of the square in 1934 in honour of the Sultan of Egypt, a work of Greek sculptor Dimitriadis. Nowadays, the building is used for the purposes of Mehmet Ali Pasha Institute
The Imaret, a big edifice of the late Ottoman period, a classic example of Islamic architecture located on the west side of the peninsula of Panagia (old town). Its largest part was built, between 1817-1821 by the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, Mehmet Ali Pasha. For sentimental reasons, the Governor of Egypt wanted to benefit his hometown with this religious, educational and charitable institution. It operated as a Muslim seminary - internship and "workhouse" for all the poor of the city regardless of religion.
Imaret means "place of charity".
In 2001 it was leased for 50 years to an entrepreneur from Kavala, it was restored and converted into a luxurious and elegant hotel, which maintains something of the ambience of its era.
One of the most intense elements of the image of Kavala is its citadel. While it stands on the top of the peninsula of Virgin Mary (Panagia) it is tied up in a harmonious total with the houses of the homonymous historical district that extended all around it in tiers. It is interesting to watch the course of the fortress in time.
The name “Christoupolis” first appears in texts of the beginning of the 9th century. The change of the city’s name should not be linked to its abandonment, but to its reorganisation as a fortress of the Byzantine state. The role of Christoupolis as a fortress is particularly emphasized in Byzantine texts: «the Christoupolis fortress as on the one side was very powerful thanks to its construction... on the other side as a bolster lies down… it leads through Thrace, and thirdly as it is onshore and it could easily enter into alliances” (Ioannes Cantacuzenus, 1,4 Bonnae edition). The citadel (fortress) standing dominatingly on the top of the hill of the peninsula, at a height of approximately 70 metres, was reconstructed upon the remnants of the older Byzantine castle, in two phases: first, at the beginning of 1425 in view of the imminent attack of the Venetian fleet, the Ottomans built the “new walls”, obviously the parts that had been destroyed during the siege and occupation of Christoupolis (1390-1391). Secondly, in approximately 1530 the walls were repaired once again, at a larger extent and more assiduous intervention. At this time, the exterior surrounding walls of the citadel were built, with the addition of which the fortress was extended considerably and increased its defensive puissance. More specifically, the exterior surrounding walls of the citadel must have been built during the years 1530 -1536, at the era where Suleiman the Magnificent decided to enforce its defence in several coastline positions (e.g. Thessaloniki – the White Tower). The exterior surrounding walls linked the citadel with the half destroyed then perimetrical walls of the peninsula and also fortified the lowest side of the hill, towards the harbour. The two entrance gates of the citadel are found here also: the First (in the place of an older Byzantine gate), is found at the end of today’s Kapsali street and is equipped with a «zematistra» (scalding spot – from where the defenders threw boiling oil onto the enemies).
Tobacco story III (The smell still remains...)
The decline of this tobacco era begins between 1930 and 1950, with the application of new production methods and the importation of “Virginia” tobacco, that gradually replaced the local “basmas” species and favoured the big monopolies. All of the tobacco factories will be closed in the next few years, but the smell of tobacco is still existent in the big empty buildings, where thousands and thousands of people lived, worked and struggled. Today only a few factories are renovated and are still in use as big stores, or bars. Most of them are empty and abandoned, looking like big holes in the urban fabric. The most hopeful project is the renovation of the Municipal Tobacco Factory in the Kapnergati square, which – if ever completed – will house the Municipal Museum, the Tobacco Museum and other exhibitions and events.
If you want to wander in the old, mostly abandoned tobacco factories, you can take Dagli street and keep walking through Makedou square. It is a very small square, almost abused by the owners of the surrounding tobacco factories, but full of history and memories.
On the other hand, if you want to see an example (not so successful, I think) of a renovated tobacco factory, you can visit the shopping center, on the eastern side of Kapnergati square, on the beginning of Megalou Alexandrou pedestrian street, which houses a lot of shops and caffes. Among those, I would suggest caffe Chocolat, on the second flour, which preserves the wonderful wooden ceiling of the original building.
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The Castle of Kavala
The Castle and the Acropolis was built in the 15th century, on the ruins of an older Byzantine castle. The outer walls embraced the whole peninsula of Panagia, which was then the core of the settlement. The city start expanding outside the walls, only after 1864.
Nowadays, the castle houses a small café and a scene and many concerts and theaters take place in this idyllic surrounding, during the summer months. Don't miss the panoramic view from the castle's tower.
How to get there: You can walk, following the Theodorou Poulidou street – the main street of the old city – and then turn left on Feidiou street (there are signs). There is also a tourist train, that departs from the lower part of the central square (plateia Eleftherias), just in front of the National Bank, on weekdays every hour from 8.00 until 14.00 and from 17.00 until 20.45 and, on Sundays, on 9.30, 10.00, 11.00, 12.00, 12.30, 17.30, 18.00, 19.00, 20.00. You still have to walk the last part of the route.
The entrance to the Castle is 2,00 € for adults and 1,50 for children. The little train is free of charge.
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Tobacco story II (The echo of workers’ struggles)
In the next years and decades, while the profits for the tobacco merchants became higher and higher, the conditions of work in the factories were really hard. This caused series of strikes and demonstrations, during the first decades of the 20th century, in which a lot of workers were injured and some of them lost their lives. This strong workers’ movement had a grate impact in Kavala’ s society, that is still reflected up today.
The statue of the photo represents the struggle of tobacco workers. It stands in the middle of Kapnergati square (tobacco workers’ square), one of the busiest squares in the city center. Most of the demonstrations, nowadays, still take place in this square.
The tobacco history of the city is very well represented in Tobacco Museum of Kavala (www.tobaccomuseum.gr), a thematic museum about the cultivation, elaboration and trade of tobacco, in the area. This very special biomatic museum is housed today in K. Palaiologou str. 4, but in the future will move in the emblematic building of the Municipal Tobacco Factory (second photo), in Kapnergati square.
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The City Hall and other buildings on Kyprou street
Kavala’ s City Hall is definitely the most impressive building of the city, with a totally diverse architectural style, that resemples Hungarian castle. Not surprisingly, since it was the house of a Hungarian tobacco merchant, baron Pierre Herzog. It was built in 1885, it was bought by the Municipality of Kavala in 1937 and ever since it houses the City Hall.
On the same street, next to the City Hall, you will find more buildings of the same period, built by foreign merchants or companies, which reflect their personal taste and wealth. They combine gothic, ottoman and new-classic elements, in a very unique way. Standing in front of the City Hall, you see on your right, Mansion Wix, built by the German baron Adolf Wix, and the Lazaristes Abbey. On your left, the big ocher-pink building, in Austrian baroque style, was built in 1909 by the Charity Sisterhood of Kavala and for many years it housed the Municipal Library. Today it is property of the Municipality of Kavala, but unfortunately it is not utilized, except for the ground flour, which occasionally houses art exhibitions.
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The old aqueduct
This emblematic feature of Kavala is part of the medieval aqueduct, which was used to bring the water from the highlands’ sources into the city walls. It is an achievement of the Byzantine period, although it was extensively restored by the Ottomans, especially in the years of Suleiman Sultan (1520-1530).
During the refugees’ wave of the ‘30s, people trying to solve their housing problem, built houses between the stone arches of the aqueduct. Luckily, these houses were not demolished, during the recent maintenance works and still stand today to confirm the continuation of local history.
Panagia – The old city
The peninsula of Panagia is the oldest part of the city, with houses that reveal the characteristics of ottoman architecture, of the 19th century. Although there have been some unfortunate interventions in the past years, the settlement has kept a lot of its charm and historical semblance.
The best way to visit the old city, is of course on foot. Walking all along the Theodorou Poulidou street, you will pass the most important sights, such as Imaret, Mohamet Ali square, with his family house and his statue, the church of Panagia (Virgin Mary) - from which derives the name of the settlement - and you will end up to a nice cape, with an old lighthouse and beautiful view to the city of Kavala and the open sea. From there, you can take the path down to the big rocks, that surround the peninsula, and go for a swim, like some locals do!
Don’t miss the chance to wander further through the narrow cobbled streets of Panagia, which will probably lead you up to the Castle of Kavala and then down again on the eastern part of the peninsula.
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Tobacco story I (Kavala – the capital of tobacco)
From the middle of the 19th century, the history of Kavala was synonymous to the production and trade of tobacco. The location of Kavala, as much as the exceptional quality of the produced tobacco in the area, put Kavala in the centre of international tobacco trade. The port of the city was always busy, with ships from the whole Mediterranean, Black Sea, Russia, Rumania, Arabia, England, Holland, Scandinavia, USA and Canada. Consulates and big Commercial Houses from all the European countries were settled in Kavala and had a big influence in the city’s architecture, economical and social life. All these changes rendered necessary the construction of many tobacco factories, all along the sea front of the city. It was only then, that the residents of Kavala started tentatively to build houses and stores outside the historical core of the peninsula of Panagia and take part in the rapidly developing economy.
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Ammolofoi: Dunes and emerald sea
Although there are quite clean beaches inside the city of Kavala, nothing compares to the emerald sea of Ammolofoi (which means dunes), on the western coastline. The sea deserves each one of the 30 Kms you will have to drive and the surrounding landscape of the dunes is really something special. Of course, there is still the chance to have a “bad-beach-day”, because of the weekend crowds, seaweeds, plankton, or whatever, but in most of the cases you’ ll enjoy excellent swimming conditions.
There are quite a few beach-bars, all along the Ammolofoi coastline. Most of them offer parking, umbrella and sunbeds for free, but you’ ll have to order something to drink, which is usually overpriced. For example, the price for ice-coffee, for this season, varies from 3 to 4 €.
To get there, you have to drive about 30 Kms on Egnatia highway (direction to Thessaloniki), exit at the seaside village of Peramos and then follow the signs to Ammolofoi. On your way back, you might notice that Peramos offers many good choices for food, coffee and relaxation after a long day on the beach.
Whether you are the adventurous kind of traveler, or you simply enjoy the beauty of nature, don’t miss the chance to visit Nestos river and walk by the meanders, formed as the river flows through the mountains of Rodopi. This area, known as Stena Nestou (narrow pass of Nestos), is located between the prefectures of Kavala and Xanthi and is run by the European trail network E6. It is protected as “aesthetic wood”, due to the rich flora and fauna, that lives by the river and the sharp slopes of the surrounding mountains. During this pleasant walk you ‘ll find ancient planes, cedars, oaks, wild olive tress and wild flowers of all colors, especially in Springtime. Depending of the period of visit, you might see flocks of waterbirds, or rare birds of prey, flying over the sharp cliffs.
You can enter the path at the end of Toxotes - Galani village and walk about 5,5 Kms to the view point and water source of Kromniko. It is a well-preserved stone path, with spectacular view to the river’s meanders. The path was made about 100 years ago, to help with the construction of the railway between Thessaloniki and Constantinopolis. Unfortunately, the path stops right there, at Kromniko, and if you wish to continue, you have to follow the railway line. BUT, this can be really dangerous, since there are three big tunnels to be crossed. So, if you decide to do it, make sure you are very well informed about the timetable of trains.
And said by the way, this historical railway, part of the famous Orient Express, still runs by the flow of the river and it connects up today Thrace with the rest of Greece. Actually, you do have the choice to visit this area by train. There are six train connections a day, between Stavroupoli and Toxotes stations and it takes about 15 minutes to cross the “Stena” of Nestos river. So, grap a seat by the window and... enjoy!
In case you might need it, keep the telephone number of Toxotes station: 25410 93290 and Stavroupoli station: 25420 22363. And in case you want to try some outdoor activities on the river (canoe, kayak, etc), have a look on www.riverland.gr.
The ancient sight of Philippoi
Philippoi, 15 Kms from Kavala, on direction to Drama, is one of the most important ancient sights of Macedonia, because of findings that indicate continuous human presence from prehistory until Byzantine times. There are signs of organized settlements long before the advent of Macedonian king Philippos the 2nd, who occupied the city in 356 BC and renamed it after himself. It was then that the city was fortified and a beautiful theater was built to confirm the importance and wealth of the new colony. The theater is very well preserved up today and hosts the performances of Philippoi Drama Festival, one of the most important ancient drama festivals in Greece. You can find the program, in English, on www.philippifestival.gr
Back to history, the city of Philippoi becomes roman colony, on 86 BC and in the next centuries it grows and flourishes even more, with the construction of an imposing Forum, Agora, baths and aqueduct.
In early Christian time, Philippoi becomes the first european place, where the new religion is taught. In the year 49 or 50 AC, St Paul arrives in the city and for the very first time preaches the new beliefs to women gathered on the banks of Zigaktis river. Then, he baptizes Lydia, the first european christian. This historical fact makes Philippoi an important pilgrimage for christians, over time.
And as time goes by, three imposing christian Basilicas took the place of roman ruins. Basilicas were seriously damaged by earthquakes, during 6th and 7th centuries, and only parts of them can still be seen today, mainly in Bacilica B’, which is supposed to be identical to Hagia Sophia of Istanbul.
If you are in Kavala, you should definitely pay a visit to the ancient sight of Philippoi. Even though it is very unlikely to find a guide, you can feel the energy of this place, where people, myths, religions met and coexisted, or replaced one another, in the past of time.
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Although the aquaduct, which is likely the first historic site that will catch your eye upon entering Kavala, is of Roman origin, it is actually much more recent. It was built by the Ottoman Turkish Süleyman the Magnificent between 1520 and 1566. There isn't really anything to visit, but it does provide you with a great backdrop for pictures.
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