Greece: Halkidiki

 Halkidiki

They say that no other place in Greece can boast beaches like those of Halkidiki. Still, the region stands for far more than beaches. Halkidiki is the perfect combination of the reviving Mediterranean light, the unspoiled land, the lively communities and a glorious past to explore. Add the local gastronomy, the religious traditions, the openness and hospitality of the people, the wide range of activities and lifestyles; flavour with the soothing scent of the pine-trees and there you are! -the already desirable has turned to the simply irresistible.Halkidiki is literally sculpted by nature forces to balance earth and sea. Three peninsulas, fjiord-like bays with emerald beaches and coves, imposing mountains -the stage for thriving life and civilizations in every form -like the thousand- year old monastic state of Mt. Athos, a unique World Heritage Site!

You will love the land and the rich produce of its gardens and orchards. It is truly a place of dreams... and your dream has only just begun...Chalkidiki has been a popular summer tourist destination since the late 1950s when people from Thessaloniki started spending their summer holidays in the coastal villages. In the beginning tourists rented rooms in the houses of locals. By the 1960s, tourists from Austria and Germany started to visit Chalkidiki more frequently. Since the start of the big tourist boom in the 1970s, the whole region has been captured by tourism.[7] In the region there is a golf course and there is a plan for other four in the future.

The land of Halkidiki is famous for its fruitful soil as well as the variety of its natural scenery. An intoxicating combination of blue and green. Shaped like Poseidon’s trident and sticking out into the Aegean Sea, Halkidiki is a treat for visitors. Lush green forests that reach right down to the beach; golden sunlight reflected in the turquoise waters; a traditional style with a rich gastronomic and cultural heritage. Endless coves, unique architectural sites, perfectly preserved Christian monument and a host of unexplored treasures all add their own rich touch to the unique canvas that is Halkidiki.

Among this intoxicating blend of blue and green, the visitor will find major hotel complexes built to the highest standards, particularly on the first of the three “legs”, cosmopolitan Kassándra. Here there are also traditional seafront guesthouses, little hidden treasures and marinas along the coast at Sithonia, as well as some unique archaeological sites. These include Ancient Olynthus. Stágeira, the birthplace of Aristotle and, of course, Mount Athos, a unique Christian monument, untouched by the passing of time and a living monument to Byzantine culture, standing in the midst of untouched nature.The west coast is rich in picturesque plants, while the center and the east region count three beautiful mountains, Holomontas, Itamos and Athos. Furthermore, Halkidiki’s three peninsulas dive into the Aegean Sea offering a coastline of about 550 km – the longest one in Greece.

 

Halkidiki is also home to many earthly paradises for those who love mountains. Paths for mountain biking and walking cut their way through the forests of pine, oak, fir and chestnut trees. Here you can feel the pure air refreshing every cell in your body, and crystal clear refreshingly cool water gushes from dozens of hidden springs for you to quench your thirst. If you’d like to stay in the mountains, check out the traditional guesthouses at Holomóntas and in other areas up on the mountain slopes. Of course, anyone who wants to truly feel the vastness of the Aegean and O.D. on adrenaline at the same time needs to devote a little time to some serious sea sports! Windsurfing, kitesurfing, diving, water skiing and many other sea sports activities are all on offer for you here – and the facilities in Kassándra and Sithonia are excellent. Every July a major swimming event takes place here at Toronéos, one of the world’s largest events at 26 km. The competition attracts swimmers from all over the world. Also, during summer, a lot of remarkable artistic festivals take place in many parts of Halkidiki. Music provides the main focus, but the performing arts are also prominent, and every summer the region’s open-air theatres play host to some major presentations. This area is so well known – yet at the same time much of it is as yet undiscovered. Let’s have a look around it – there’s as surprise at every turn!

The beaches in Halkidiki are famous for their soft sand, the crystal water and lush surroundings. Most popular Halkidiki beaches are found in Kassandra peninsula, including Sani, Kallithea, Paleochori and Hanioti. The second peninsula, Sithonia, is not that tourist developed and has many hidden coves to relax. Halkidiki beaches on the second peninsula are popular for camping. You will find below a list with the best beaches in Halkidiki Greece.

Photo: Halkidiki Tourism Organisation

West coast

Nea Kallikratia: Wide, clean, sandy, fully organised beach, in front of the homonymous village. It has all kinds of restaurants, bars and facilities for water sports.
Flogita: Large, clean and fully organised beach in front of the homonymous settlement. You can find all kinds of restaurants, bars and facilities for water sports. It is connected with the beach of Nea Plagia.
Nea Plagia: This is a wide, sandy beach, located in front of the homonymous settlement. The area is full of restaurants, bars and facilities of water sports. It is connected to the beach Flogita.
Dionyssiou: Huge, splendid, sandy, fully organised beach that reaches up to N. Moudania. Fields unfold around it, up to as far as you can see. In the old days, here was the pier for the boats that served the Dionysiou Monastery.
Agios Mamas: Sandy beach, sufficiently organised, that is extended in length of a few kilometres. It is situated in front of the homonymous village.

Kassandra

Nea Potidea: Situated in front of the homonymous village, this beach is enormous, sandy and fully organized. It is connected to the beach of Agios Mamas. It has all kinds of restaurants, bars and facilities for water sports.
Sani: In the coast of Sani there are plenty smaller beaches (at both sides of the Tower of Stavronikita Monastery Property). All of them are sandy and provide all comforts to the bathers (restaurants, bar and all kinds of water sports). In the region, there once was the ancient town Sani of Pallini, built by migrants from Eretria. Up to the Roman years, it was one of the most developed cities of Halkidiki.
Siviri: The old Kassandria’s fishing port is today a seasonal small settlement around a beautiful, sandy beach with restaurants and bars.
Fourka: At the location called Skala lies a beach that assembles crowds of people in the summertime. The beach is sandy. It also has restaurants, bars and water sports facilities.
Possidi: This is a well organised, sandy beach, located in front of the homonymous settlement. It offers a great variety of restaurants and bars as well as facilities for all kinds of water sports.
Mola Kalyva: Beautiful, sandy beach with the marvellous pinewood forest of Kassandra in the background.
Nea Skioni: Beautiful, sandy, organised beach, in front of the homonymous village.
Loutra Agias Paraskevis: Beautiful, sandy and quiet beach, 2km, away from the village of Agia Paraskevi, with the homonymous thermal baths. It has small taverns.
Paliouri: Otherwise known as Kanavitsa or Chrousso (from the name of the old settlement). It is a dreamy sandy beach with pine-trees all around. On the beach you can find hotels, restaurants and bars, as well as facilities for all kinds of water sports.
Glarokavos: Enormous beach, one of the most beautiful in Kassandra, with sand and thin gravel. At the end of it there is a lagoon. The beach has a refreshment stand.
Pefkochori: Wide, sandy and fully organised beach, in front of the homonymous village. During summertime it gathers crowds of visitors. It has all kinds of restaurants, bars and facilities for all water sports.
Hanioti & Polychrono: Wide, sandy and fully organised beach, in front of the homonymous villages. During summertime it gathers crowds of visitors. It has all kinds of restaurants, bars and facilities for all water sports.
Kryopigi: The beach in front of the village, also named Pigadakia, has thin sand and spotless sea. There is a refreshment stand and facilities for water sports.
Kallithea: Sandy beach, in front of the homonymous settlement. It has bars, restaurants and facilities for water sports. Here begins the Toroneos cross-channel swimming contest.
Athytos: There are two beaches, one in each side of the village. They are small, with crystal clear waters. You can find restaurants and bars on both of them.
Nea Fokea: The beach, in front of the settlement is sandy and idyllic. It has restaurants and taverns.

Sithonia

Gerakini: At the location called Scala, there is a harbor in which Gerakini’s magnesite, digged out from mines close-by, is shipped away. Around it there is a small coastal settlement. The beach is enormous and sandy, fully organised (with restaurants, bars and facilities for all kinds of water sports).
Kalyves: Beautiful sandy beach within a seasonal settlement.
Psakoudia & Ormylia: Α Sandy beach, with small fishing settlement, surrounded by pine-trees. It has restaurants, bars and facilities for water sports.
Metamorfosi: Small beach, with pine-trees and sand, in front of the homonymous settlement. It is one of the most beautiful beaches of central Halkidiki with thin sand, idyllic creeks, dense pine-trees (that extend up to where the waves break) and amazing sunsets.
Nikiti: Wide, sandy beach, in front of the homonymous village. It has restaurants, taverns, bars and facilities for water sports. Here is the finish line of the Toroneos cross-channel swimming contest.

Photo: By Anton Lefterov, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4832554

Agios Ioannis: Beautiful and enormous sandy beach with crystal waters.
Koviou: Small, sandy beach. The access is possible only by walking from the main asphalted road.
Kalogria: Beach with white, thin sand and pine-trees that extend to the shore.
Spathies: Small beach with sand and rocks, spotless waters and pine-trees that extend to the shore.
Elia: Narrow beach, with pine and olive-trees that extend to the shore.
Perigiali: Small beach, next to Elia coast.
Lagomadra: The pine-tree orchard reaches up to the thin sand. The beach presents restaurants, bars and facilities for water sports.
Tripotamos: Beach with wide, white sand and pine-trees.
Paradisos: Wide, sandy and very clean, this beach is located on the right of Neos Marmaras. It has restaurants, taverns and bars.
Neos Marmaras: The beach of the village, on its left side, is sandy. It has restaurants and bars.
Porto Carras: In the homonymous seasonal resort, there are many small beaches and creeks, all with thin, white sand, pine-trees and light blue waters. In the resort you can find many restaurants and bars, as well as facilities for all kinds of water sports.
Azapiko: Great in length and width sandy beach with thin, white sand, without vegetation, very little developed.
Tristinika: Immense sandy beach that still reminds us what the beaches of Sithonia looked like in the past, before they were developed. It lies in front of a small settlement, with a few rooms for rent, hotels and taverns. It also has one of the most beautiful beach-bars in Halkidiki.
Aretes: Splendid, very little developed sandy beach, with pine-trees that reach up to the shore in a wonderful creek, in front of the homonymous, small settlement.
Porto Koufo: The beach is situated in front of the homonymous village, on a bay, between tall rocks. The waters are quite deep. There are restaurants, taverns and cafeterias.
Ampelos: Secluded beach, in an impressive place, where a narrow “tongue” of sea enters the abrupt mountain slopes.
Kalamitsi: Astonishing beach with thin, like sugar, white sand and impressive grey rock formations around it. It has restaurants and taverns.
Kriaritsi: Splendid sandy beach in a beautiful landscape with a view over the islets Skepes, Ahinoi and Petalida.
Klimataria: One of the beaches of Sykia. Small, quiet, sandy beach.
Linaraki: Immense, sandy beach with taverns.
Valti: After the beach Linaraki, small sandy beach.
Platanitsi: Astonishing, enormous sandy beach with thin, white sand and crystal waters.
Sarti: Enormous, sandy beach, in front of the homonymous village. It has restaurants, taverns, bars and cafeterias.
Kavourotrypes: A concealed lace of white small sandy beaches, turquoise waters, rocks sculptured by the waves and dense pine-trees that reach up to the shore.
Armenistis: Exotic beach with white, thin sand, full of plane and elm trees, acacias and eucalyptuses. It has organised water sports facilities.
Zografou: Beautiful beach, with white, thin sand, surrounded by rocks.
Koutloumousi: Beautiful, sandy beach, full of plane-trees.
Karydi: Perhaps the most beautiful beach of Sithonia. White, thin sand, turquoise waters. Small and quiet beach.
Livari: Wide, sandy “tongue” of land penetrating the sea with some pine-trees on it, which forms a small lagoon.
Ormos Panagias: The beach of the homonymous settlement is sandy. There are restaurants, taverns and cafeterias.
Trani Ammouda: Immense, exotic and quiet sandy beach.
Livrohio: Small, sandy beach.
Salonikiou: Wide, sandy and peaceful beach.
Pyrgadikia: Small beach, in front of the homonymous village. There are restaurants, taverns and cafeterias.

 
East coast (Athos region)

Kambos: East from Pyrgadikia, a fantastic, quiet, wide, stretched out, sandy beach, situated in front of a rich olive grove.
Pyrgos: Secluded, pebbly beach, few stubbles, certain farm houses rammed in plane-trees and a few fishing boats.
Develiki: A small fishing settlement; it is the beach of the village Gomati. There are beautiful small taverns, next to the shore.
Kastri: Next to Develiki, a small, quiet, heavenly beach.
Ierissos: The beach of the homonymous village is enormous and sandy. It has restaurants, taverns and cafeterias.
Vina: Beautiful sandy beach, next to the peninsula Liotopi, after Stratoni.
Olympiada: Astonishing sandy beach with white, thin sand and a plane-tree forest, situated in front of the homonymous village. It has restaurants, taverns, bars and cafeterias, as well as facilities for water sports.
Nea Roda: Small sandy beach, in front of the homonymous village. There are taverns and cafeterias.
Xyropotamos: Before Tripiti, an amazing, quiet, white, sandy beach, with astonishing view to Ammouliani.
Tripiti: Immense sandy beach with shallow, warm and clean waters. There is also a restaurant.
Ouranoupolis: The sandy beach of Ouranoupolis begins from Tripiti and reaches up to the village. Along the shore there are many hotels as well as facilities for all kinds of water sports.

 Ammouliani island

Alykes: Beautiful sandy beach with a few trees.
Megali Ammos: A quiet beach with a beautiful landscape and a view over the rocky islets Drenia.
Agios Georgios: Splendid beach with sand and clear waters. There is a restaurant.
Karagatsia: Very quiet beach.
Kalopigado: Small lovely beach.
Nisakia: Tiny, quiet beaches on the northeast side of the island.
 

Photo: By Dimitris Siskopoulos CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19757725

Nature

Spirit of Nature…The land of Halkidiki is famous for its fruitful soil as well as the variety of its natural scenery. The west coast is rich in picturesque plants, while the center and the east region count three beautiful mountains, Holomontas, Itamos and Athos. Furthermore, Halkidiki’s three peninsulas dive into the Aegean Sea offering a coastline of about 550 km – the longest one in Greece. When exploring the amazing natural environment do not miss out on the ancient Petralona Cave, as well as the wetlands region protected by the Natura newtwork.

Petralona Cave

Near the village of Petralona, at the base of Mount Katsika, one can find the entrance of the Cave of Petralona. It was accidentally discovered in 1959 by a villager. They named it “Red stones” (Kokkines Petres) because of the red earth which coloured the stalagmites and stalactites. It covers an area of 10.000 m2. “The cave is part of an extensive cavern system in calcareous Mesozoic deposits containing large quantities of fossil mammalian bones including horse, cave bear, lion and others” encyclopedia Britannica says. In 1960 Dr. Aris Poulianos found a complete skull and part of the skeleton of an erect hominid. It belonged to a woman between 25-35 years old. The skull is dated as being 700.000 years old and the traces of fire found next to it, around 1.000.000 years old. It is considered one of the earliest human findings in Europe. The cave provides a breathtaking spectacle of geology beauty. In the part named “cemetery of Giants”, 14 different types of animal-bones were found. The “Great Hall” has huge stalagmites in white coral-like. The “Hall of Roots” has fine roots above the cave having pierced the roof and formed a net.There is a Museum near the cave which contains many of the archaeological findings of the cave. The authentic skull is in the paleontological collection of the Aristotelian Museum of Thessaloniki, but there is a replica inside the cave, where it was found.

Photo: By Carlstaffanholmer, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33472204

Mountains

Mt Holomontas: The central and northern parts of Halkidiki are dominated by the mountain range of Mt. Holomontas, an area of incredible beauty, with breathtaking views in all directions. In ancient times Holomontas was known for the quality of its timber, much prized by shipbuilders. Imposing trees grow high up on its slopes, with oaks on the lower reaches, and chestnut, pine, fir and beech higher up. Every so often the trees make way for a clearing, blossoming later on with wild flowers. Mushrooms are found here, growing alongside wild herbs, mountain tea and oregano. There are also many species of wild animals and birds. (Highest peak: 1165 m).

Mt Itamos (or Dragoudelis): The mountain range of Itamos is the biggest one in Sithonia. In the central forest zone, close to the mountain top, there are some rare old Itamos trees, a unique flora variety –the mountain was named after them. You can reach the top by car, via the hamlet of Parthenon village. The forest offers special trails ideal for walking and biking. From the top one has a magnificent view over Sithonia, Kassandra and Mt Athos. The mountain is covered with a great variety of coniferous trees. It is a protected area with significant flora and fauna. Typical mammal species that live in the mountain are wolves, foxes, rabbits and wild pigs. The locals speculate that there are also deers in the region (Highest peak: 811 m).

Mt Stratoniko: The Stratoniko Mountain is located above the village Stagira, Aristotle’s birthplace. The place is full of astonishing oak groves, tall and old beech trees, chestnut trees and numerous other representatives of the thick flora. Sparkling fresh waters quench the thirst of the lumberjacks, and refresh the thousands of mountaineers who enliven the mountain paths. Wildlife features an abundance of wild boars, roebucks, hares, woodcocks, birds and insects who found a permanent shelter among the trees and the bushes. (Highest peak: 913 m).

Mt Athos: Mount Athos is the mountain and the easternmost peninsula of Halkidiki. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries and forms a self-governed monastic state within the sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. The actual Mount Athos has steep, densely forested slopes reaching up to 2.033 meters near the southernmost tip of the peninsula. The mountain mass is cleft by deep ravines, along which flow deep torrents and countless streams. It is only at the southern end of the peninsula that water is scarce. The whole peninsula is covered with dense vegetation, which harbours numerous ecosystems. There is a zone of Mediterranean evergreen, including pine, holm-oak, cypress, wild olive, lentisk, laurel, arbutus, and heather; higher up are deciduous forests of oak, chestnut, lime, and black pine; and higher still is the low vegetation of high mountain ranges.

Photo: By michael clarke, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24327334

Wetlands & waters

Sani Wetlands (Kassandra): Sani company has undertaken an important environmental initiative – studying and protecting the birdlife of the Sani wetlands. The Sani wetlands is a large expanse of land of 110 hectares, home to over 200 species of birds -many of them rare and endangered. 34 species -or 16% of species- recorded in the Sani Wetlands are included in the three most important categories of the Red List. At the same time, 93 species fall into the three most important protection categories on a European level (SPEC), as defined by the Birdlife International.

Mavrobara Lake (Kassandra): The Lake Mavrobara is widely known for its ecological interest and is located 3km west of Polychrono, in a big forest area full of pine-trees. The lake shelters two rare species of water turtles in danger of extinction (Emys orbicularis and Mauremys caspica), which find refuge here. Small benches placed at the area, allow you to enjoy conveniently this land full of canes and nenuphars.

Agios Mamas Wetland (West Coast): Agios Mamas march is a small coastal wetland, located between Kassandra and Sithonia peninsula, an important location for breeding and passage waders. The wetland with the standing water has sand-dunes and reedbeds.

Vourvourou lagoon (Sithonia): Vourvourou is well known for its dense pine forest, the enchanting beaches with clear turquoise waters and the nine scattered picturesque islets. Here lies Livari, a beautiful lagoon which is delimited from the adjacent navy-blue sea by an elongated sandy beach with pine-trees. The whole area is a protected due to the significant flora and fauna.

Agia Paraskevi thermal springs (Kassandra): One of the most traditional villages of the region, Agia Paraskevi is famous for its thermal springs and their therapeutic qualities. The residents revived the village, creating an elegant spa destination offering modern facilities, located in a lush pine forest. The springs, which were discovered accidentally, have important therapeutic qualities due to the water’s special chemical composition.

Varvara waterfalls (Central Halkidiki): Between the villages Varvara and Olympiada, one can find the waterfalls of Varvara. It consists of two waterfalls 15m. high, in a forest full of Itamos trees. The beautiful landscape is really worth a visit.

Taxiarchis forest

The University Forest of Taxiarchis is found in the center of Halkidiki and concretely in the Southern and South-western slopes of Holomontas. The unique agriculture found on the Mountain of Holomontas, which can survive at these winter conditions -low temperature, is the agriculture of Christmas trees, which are planted by seed in its fields, (trees are not cut from the forest). After 15 years of growth, the trees are sold, during the Christmas period. There is even a modern unit of treatment of herbs and therapeutic plants, such as tea are collected, drained and sold.

 
Islands & islets (island hopping)

Ammouliani: It is the only inhabited island of Halkidiki, located 120km from Thessaloniki. It is connected by frequent ferryboat routes that last only 10 minutes to Tripiti, the beach located across the island. This island is an idyllic combination of fine golden sand, aquamarine sea, vegetation and giant rocks. Drenia or "Donkey islands": Located opposite Ouranoupolis, about 2 miles away from the mainland. The 6 islands present beautiful sandy beaches, amazing blue waters and an enchanting landscape. Tigani & Pontiki: From Tripiti or from the island “Ammouliani” you can reach these two small islands by boat and enjoy their picturesque beaches.

Diaporos: It is a magnificent island situated on a private bay and surrounded by a natural forest, one of the last unexploited areas of Halkidiki, a fact that explains its astonishingly pure beauty. Diaporos is right across Vourvourou village in Sithonia peninsula. The bay is deep enough for large yachts and the natural beauty of the location is astonishing. Diaporos belongs to a complex of islets together with: Kalogria, Ambelitsi, Kalamonisia (3), Prassonisi, Peristera, Agios Isodoros. Kelyfos: It is also called the “Turtle island” because of its shape. Kelyfos is located opposite Neos Marmaras. The island is full of wild goats but it is best known for its spectacular seabed. Spalathronisia: It is a cluster of three islets almost opposite Porto Carras Grand Resort. Although they are very close to the land, they are isolated enough for private visits. Punta: 9km after Porto Carras Grand Resort, turning left towards the sea, is a very small peninsula which is called “Diaporti”. When the sea pulls away, a sandy path which leads to Punta island is being revealed. Punta has four beaches ideal for swimming.

Wine & wineries

Halkidiki’s wines: Renowned wines were produced in Ancient Halkidiki. Writings from the 5th century BC mention the white “afstiro” (dry) and the “malthako” (semisweet) wine of Mendi (a town southwest of Kassandra). Also well-known for their wines were Akanthos (today’s Ierissos) and Afitis (today’s Athytos) while the first model vineyard at Stagira was planted by its most famous son, Aristotle himself. Today there are vineyards in central and mountainous Halkidiki, at Sithonia and Mount Athos. On the sun-drenched slopes of Mt Meliton, the warm, dry climate and the humidity from the Aegean Sea create a beneficial environment for winemaking. The red wine is made from Limnio, an old Greek variety, along with the French varieties of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. A white wine comes from the white grape varieties of Assyrtiko, Roditis and Athiri.

Almost all Monasteries in Mount Athos have a longstanding tradition in winemaking. In quite a few of them a revival of this tradition is taking place. This blessed stretch of land with its mild climate, more than adequate sunshine, mountain coolness and sea breezes produces the Regional Wines of Mount Athos. The vineyards of central Halkidiki stretch from the low hills near the sea, with a beneficial sea climate soothing the land during the summer, to the mountainous regions of the area. The grape varieties cultivated to produce the white Regional Wines of Halkidiki are Roditis and Sauvignon Blanc. The red Regional Wine of Halkidiki is produced from the Xinomavro, Grenache Rouge and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties.

More information: Wine Producers Association of the Northern Greece Vineyard , www.wineroads.gr

Wineries:

Tsantali Agios Pavlos Winery
In the winery of this well-established Macedonian company you will get a full tour of the production facilities, the aging cellars and the distillation units, before ending up in a specially designed room for a delicious tasting of wines, tsipouro and grape distillates. - Agios Pavlos (West coast), www.tsantali.gr

Domaine Porto Carras
The tour begins with a walk through the winery and the cellar where the wines mature in oak barrels. It concludes in the “Melissanthi” tasting room with a wine tasting and an informative video about the vinery’s activities. Neos Marmaras (Sithonia), www.portocarras.com

Tsantali Metohi Chromitsa Winery
Only men can visit the vineyard of Metohi at Chromitsa, at the Monastery of Agios Panteleimonas, after contacting the Tsantali winery and the Holy Caretaker of Mount Athos. The revival of the vineyard began in 1973 by Evangelos Tsantalis. The fruits of his labor were recognized in 1981 with the establishment of the indication “Regional Wines of Mt Athos”. Agios Pavlos (West coast), www.tsantali.gr

Milopotamos, Mt Athos
Holy Cell of Saint Efstathios. Men can tour the vineyards, and look around the traditionally built yet modern winery and distillery. Mt Athos, www.mywines.gr

Claudia Papayianni Estate
At the outskirts of Arnea, in mountainous Halkidiki, you will be offered a tour to the vineyards and the estate’s new winery. The tour concludes with a video presentation and wine tasting. - Central Halkidiki -Arnea, www.cp-domaine.gr

Tradition & Culture

After a glorious ancient and Byzantine history, in 1430 the region was conquered again, this time by the Ottomans, incorporating Halkidiki into the administrative district of Thessaloniki. Halkidiki was divided into three areas -to fulfill certain tax-collecting demands. Kassandra, the first peninsula, Hasikohoria –as far as the bay of Toroni and Thermaic Gulf- and Mademohoria, while Mount Athos remained a separate area. The 18th century is a period of prosperity for Halkidiki, an element that explains why the coastal villages became a common target of pirate raids.

In May 1821, under the leadership of Emmanuel Pappas, Halkidiki joined the revolution against the Ottoman empire, unsuccessfully, leading to a second strike of the resistance in 1854 under the leadership of Tsiamis Karatasos.

During the early 20th century the people of Halkidiki joined the fight for the liberation of Macedonia. The long-awaited liberation arrived in October 1912. Ten years later the arrival of thousands of refugees from Asia Minor led to the formation of 27 new villages that contributed enormously to the region’s cultural and economic growth.

Museums

Archaeological Museum (Polygyros)

The Museum has a fascinating collection of archaeological finds from all over Halkidiki. Exhibits include clay figurines and coins from Olynthos, vases from Toroni, parts of the roof of the temple of Zeus Ammon from Kallithea, reliquary chests, fisherman’s equipment, lamps, jewels and amphorae from Akanthos, now the town of Ierissos, and funerary steles and the statue of a woman from the 1st century BC, from the sanctuary of a deified hero, from Stratoni.

Museum of Fishing Vessels and Equipment (Nea Moudania)

The Museum is largely the result of forty years of untiring efforts by Stavros Kovrakis, a passionate collector of the treasures hidden in the seas of Greece. It also enjoys the support of the Moudania Yacht Club. The Museum has an educational and research role, also doing much to promote the local identity and keep alive its links with its history. The items on display include ancient anchors, fishing nets, fishing rods and hooks, compasses, beacons and lamps and many other intriguing exhibits. There are 3D recreations of a variety of fishing techniques, demonstrating how the different kinds of vessel and net are used, with replicas of fishing boats and a rich archive of documents and illustrations. One of the most fascinating items is the bouyiandes, a traditional fishing vessel formerly seen in the Sea of Marmara, introduced to Greece by the refugees from Asia Minor. The Museum also offers a thrilling insight into the strange and magical world beneath the sea, with its vast range of plant and animal life.

Folklore Museum (Arnea)

The Museum is housed in the building known as the Yiatradiko, one of the oldest listed buildings in Halkidiki (1750-1755). It is a two-storey structure, built in the Macedonian style with a tower and projecting balcony. The ground floor has an exhibition of agricultural artifacts, photographs from the period 1880-1950, various items used in the daily lives of the local people, as well as implements used in beekeeping, building, baking, etc. The mezzanine floor houses a collection of carpenter’s tools and items from the traditional coffee house. On the upper floor the visitor can inspect a loom and various pieces of equipment used in weaving, as well as an old fireman’s pump, local costumes, weights, a brazier, washing boards, etc. There is also a special room which recreates a traditional Arnea domestic interior.

Traditional villages

The vernacular architecture of Halkidiki is a local version of the familiar Macedonian style. The region offers a wide range of interesting buildings, from simple one-room dwellings to fine mansions. There is also the distinctive mix of buildings with narrow, broad facades, the area’s main characteristic.

Mademohoria

The mademohoria take their name from the Turkish word for mine, and they are the mining villages which enjoyed great prosperity during the years of Ottoman rule, exploiting the lead and silver deposits of the region. The men of those villages had extracted silver for the sultan from the deposits in Mt. Stratonikos. Many of them were fine workers in metal, as well as miners. These villages enjoyed special privileges and a certain amount of autonomy; although there was a local Turkish governor, he allowed the villagers great leeway to run their own affairs. The villages set up a sort of federation, administered by twelve vekilides or representatives of the mademohoria. The individual mining villages were as follows: Galatista, Vavdos, Kazantzi Mahalas (now Stagira), Stanos, Varvara, Liarigovi (now Arnea), Novoselo (now Neochori), Isvoros (now Stratoniki), Horouda, Revenikia (now Megali Panagia) and Ierissos.

Zervochoria

These are the villages of Geroplatanos and Paleochora (between Agios Prodromos and Arnea), with the small nearby settlements of Sana and Riza. Due to their position on the mountainside the villages face the sun rise to their left, unlike most of the neighbouring villages – hence the name, from the Greek word zervos = left.

Fishing villages

The picturesque seaside villages of Halkidiki initially were home to families of fishermen. Each village had its little harbour where the fishermen moored their vessels after returning from the sea. In 1922, when the great wave of refugees from Asia Minor arrived in the region, these little villages were transformed. The state granted the refugees land near the sea, not being farmed at the time, and the new inhabitants demonstrated their mettle in building up new and robust communities. Many of the villages have names beginning with Neos or Nea (new), and then the name of the town or village they left behind in Asia Minor (e.g. Nea Moudania, Nea Triglia, etc.).

Where to stay

Halkidiki offers a great selection of hotels, villas, holiday apartments and studio ranging from luxury resorts to affordable apartment rentals, ready to please even the most demanding visitor.  More information about accommodation can be found here:

Halkidiki Hotel Association: www.halkidiki-hotels.gr
Federation of holiday rooms & apartments in Halkidiki: www.halkidiki-holidays.gr
Camping Association of Halkidiki: www.campsite-halkidiki.gr

 

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