I have always associated Greece history with Antiquity, perhaps because at school I have learned about its huge contribution to humanity. The history of Greece is so rich in events that you can hardly encompass it! Over the years, when I started to visit it, I had learned that this country faced shorter or longer periods of Venetian, Roman, Ottoman, and even German and Bulgarian occupation. The town of Kavala is a small jewel of Greece, due to the traces left by Byzantines, Greeks and Ottomans.
I confess you that although I like to document before going on a trip I did not do about Kavala. It was a transit point on the way home so I thought that I would have been too tired after a day long driving. But at the hotel room, I saw a fortress from the window and, curiously, I opened google maps to see what it is. I discover that the city is a bidder for tourist attractions so I rushed to discover them.
And now a little of geography:
This city, situated on the slopes of Mount Symvolo, has the shape of an amphitheater whose scene is the Aegean Sea. Its eastern part is dominated by the Panagia peninsula, which has the most tourist attractions.
… and little of history:
According to archaeological data, the history of the city dates from the prehistoric times, being called Neapolis in Antiquity and Christoupolis in the Middle Ages. The city’s history is related to Muhammad Ali, also named Mehmet Ali in Turkish, the son of an Albanian tobacco trader who was born in Kavala in 1769 and who in 1805 became the governor / viceroy of Egypt. Although during the Greek War of Independence he sent troops and vessels to stop the rebellion of the Greeks, in 1930 the Greek authorities raised, in his honor, a monument in recognition of the reforms in agriculture, medicine and education.
Kavala Castle/Fortress is located at the highest point of the Panagia Peninsula, surrounded by two rows of walls that in the past have protected the city against the invaders. Originally built by the Byzantines, it was rebuilt successively by the Ottomans and the Venetians. Do not miss this tourist destination because it offers a true history lesson and a fantastic panorama of the city! Imaret (Külliye) It was really hard for me to realize that the 5 * hotel is actually Imaret, the building built by Mehmet Ali in order to provide education and charity during the Ottoman domination. In the 1970s, a population exchange took place between Greece and Turkey, and Imaret became the home of the Greeks who came from Anatolia. We have admired this exterior building both from the harbor and on Th. Poulidou Street.
The Mehmet Ali Square, dominated by its statue, is framed by Ekklisia Kimisi Theotokou, also called Panagia and Mehmet Ali’s house.
Ekklisia Church Kimisi Theotokou was built in 1965 on the site of a 15th-century Byzantine church. The reasons for the demolition of that church are not known, but it is certain that the new church can easily be seen from the harbour. Mehmet Ali’s house was closed, but I noticed two flags at the gate: one of Greece and another one, which I later found out was that of Egypt. On a wall I saw something written in Arabic, but I do not know what it is … .Maybe my readers can help me.
The nearby Halil Bey Mosque is also known as the Mosque of the Music, because it hosted the orchestra of the Philharmonic of the city between 1930 and 1940.
The Kamares aqueduct is another tourist attraction that should not be missed. It seems to have been rebuilt by Ibrahim Pasha, the great vizier of Sultan Suleiman II the Magnificent, and that it functioned until the beginning of the twentieth century. About three hundred meters away from the aqueduct is St. Nicholas’ Church, where the apostle Paul is supposed to have stepped for the first time on Europe’s land. Initially, this church was the Ibrahim Pasha mosque, and therefore is trend towards Mecca.
Eleftherias Square is the busiest area of the city. Here the former tobacco stores have been transformed into chic shopping areas, cafes and restaurants. Kavala was considered „Mecca of Tobacco” and the Municipal Tobacco Warehouse reminds of the period in which tobacco industry and trade influenced the history of the city.
Heroon Park / Heroes Park is a quiet and shady place. The name comes from the statues representing heroes of Greece such as Alexander the Great and Nike, the goddess of victory.
Other tourist attractions include: The Archeology Museum organized in such a way that visitors can understand the tumultuous history of the city, the Maritime Museum, the Marine Lighthouse and the Church of the Prophet Ilia. In the tallest part of the city you can see a huge white cross that is reached by a path of dust. The effort is rewarded by the superb panorama over the city and over the delta of the Nestos River.
My trip to the narrow and rambling streets of Kavala left me many pleasant memories. The small and chic houses with Ottoman architectural influences in the Panagia district, the tourist attractions have created a mixed feeling of tranquility, relaxation and sadness at the thought that the life of Greek was very difficult in certain historical periods.