Kavala: A town of natural beauty with a powerful history located on the Aegean coast. KAVALA is one of the largest Greek cities that excludes the feeling of a metropolis, holds the spirit of tradition and has numerous relaxing seaside spots.
Experiencing this city one may gain cultural growth visiting its rich historical monuments, and having the sense of traveling through time. Kavala’s impressive scenery is connected to different cultures. There are cobblestone roads, the Imaret, a fortress, the old walls and beautiful neoclassical buildings, and on the other hand the most modern cafes, clubs, a long promenade, the opportunity to sunbathe on most days, and most importantly the beaches and the sea… This city, on which the Aegean Sea splashes, was built in the shape of an amphitheater that stretches and grows from the port to the imposing Byzantine fortress onto the surrounding slopes of the mountain Simvolo. This contrasting landscape forms “Kavala is a white town with white buildings and one recalls the large snowflake and is one of the most picturesque cities in Greece.” According to archeological findings, the history of the city dates back to prehistoric times. The center of the city was limited to the District of Panagia which has been continuously inhabited since the 7th century BC. After 2,500 years, Kavala has expanded its borders all the way to 1870, and after 1928 it started to take the shape and the structure which it has today. It was built on the ancient city of Neapolis, where the Apostle Paul entered at 49 years old, the year he came to preach Christianity.
In the central part of the old town is the square of Muhammad Ali, the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty which dominated, his statue placed near his house and the largest of aristocrat homes. There is also the Imaret, an impressive building which has been converted into a luxury hotel, which was initially built by Muhammad Ali as a gift to his birthplace. Each of the rooms is lavishly decorated and the hotel resembles a museum where tours are given of the rooms in the hotel, as well as the beautiful garden and 3 outdoor swimming pools. Climbing up the narrow streets you reach fish taverns and cafes, the Church of the Virgin Mary and the Lighthouse which offers an incredible panoramic view of the city.
Further up the narrow streets is the oldest part of the city to the Halil Bey’s mosque, Mosque or Old Music building, built on the ruins of a Christian Basilica Church. As a symbol of the city on top of the hill is the standing fortress of Kavala, from the time of the Ottoman Empire since the 15th century, what remains of the Byzantine Acropolis. Formerly used for the defense against enemies, it is now a place for relaxation, events and visits for the tourists and residents of Kavala. There is a cafeteria in it today, as well as an outdoor theatre for a variety of cultural events. Close to the old town, one of the most impressive and the most famous historical monuments of Kamares. Built 280 meters in length, the arches, which are also a hallmark of Kavala, look like a magnificent gateway to the old town. It is actually part of a broad water system, the former aqueduct was built in 1550 by the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and restored in the 19th century by Muhammad Ali, was the way the city was supplied with the necessary water.
It is entails rich religious experiences with many temples and churches to be visited by the faithful. In the town there is the Cathedral Temple of the protector of Kavala, Saint Paul, with Renaissance icons made by monks of Mount Athos. There is also the Church of St. Nicholas, and right behind it is the mosaic monument in honor of the Apostle Paul, in the place where he first set foot in Europe. The first church built outside the walls of the old city is that of St. John, and high on the cliff is the Church of the Holy Prophet Elijah.
A unique picture of this city and port is adorned by the anchored fishing boats, but also modern buildings and taverns next to one another, on old cobblestones from which sumptuous palm trees grow. On the West side you can see the spacious squares and modern shopping centers, in contrast to the traditional old houses, small gardens and streets on the East side.
The famous quarter of Saint Nicolas has many traditional shops, bouzouki-clubs and live music bars and taverns. The most popular meeting place is the Eleftherias square, while the busiest street of Alexander the Great on which there are cafes, bars, boutiques…
What makes the town really special are the sandy, clean and beautiful beaches with turquoise blue waters that stretch along 80 kilometers around it, and its numerous hidden wild coves which give it a natural beauty. The beach of Rapsani is located right outside of the center of town, moving on to Kalamitsa, Batis, Tosca, Palio, Nea Irakleitsa, Nea Peramos, followed by the beautiful, exotic and indispensable and most famous beach Ammolofoi with fine sand and shallow waters, ending in Ofrinio.
As a port city Kavala has always been open to different races and nations, and throughout history has learned to accept and respect the different cultures and customs. So at present this city is known for its many cultural events such as the Philippi Festival, known for performances of ancient drama and many musical-dance events, the Festival of classical music held every summer, as well as the “Eleftheria”-a series of cultural events held outdoors.
Philippi is a well-known archaeological site near Kavala where you may visit the remains of the ancient Macedonian town founded by Philip the second, father of Alexander the Great. Due to the very fertile land and gold mines this city was an important center which reached its highest growth during the 4th and 3rd century BC, but also in Roman times.
In the history of this town there are two important events. In 42 BC Philip’s famous battle took place here, between Senators who killed Julius Caesar and his heir. It is also where the Apostle Paul founded the first Christian Church in Europe in 49 BC, where he baptized the first European Christian Lydia and her family, in the river Zigaktis. This place is symbolically called “baby Jordan”. Visiting the site of Philippi you can tour preserved monuments from antiquity and the Roman and Byzantine ages, the remains of early Christian basilica, the ancient Greek amphitheater, the large market and dungeons.
Kavala has a large number of excellent hotels, rooms and apartments. Its airport connects it to Athens and major European cities. You may take the highway to Thessaloniki, cross to Thassos by boat, or tour the islands by larger boat (Lemnos, Lesvos, Samos and Dodekanissa).
In the past, thousands of men and women made a living by working in the tobacco sector. Their faces will be remembered forever thanks to the black and white photos that adorn the walls of the famous city museum. Tobacco production, which began in the early 20th century, is an indispensable part of the town’s history as it was Greece’s biggest center of industrial processing and export of oriental tobacco to the world. Kavala’s tobacco operations were used by 50 companies with 14,000 workers. The deterioration of the largest tobacco center in the Balkans began with the world economic crisis of 1929. But, the history of the tobacco industry in Kavala has been preserved from oblivion thanks to the modern Tobacco Museum that presents tools, samples, photographs, and other archival materials that testify to the history of Oriental tobacco.
A big mark was left by Muhammed Ali in the history of Kavala. He was born in this town in 1769 and was buried in the Alabaster Mosque in Cairo in 1849. Muhammed is regarded as the father of modern Egypt because of economic and social change that was carried out in the country during his rule. Tax clerk, tobacco merchant, and a soldier in the Albanian army which fought in Egypt against Napoleon, he was a self-proclaimed Pasha, appointed a sultan by the Governor of Egypt. He was a good ruler who modernized Egypt. Together with his eldest son Ibrahim Pasha, who was a very skillful warlord they invaded Sudan, Greece and Syria, and managed to obtain the hereditary title of Pasha.
S. Kostić – J. Jovović
FOOD and FUN that make up the genuine flavor of Kavala are tasty traditional specialties and fine wines which are served in the beautiful taverns and restaurants with views of the sea and the city. Join the wonderful taste, romantic sea scenery and lovely tavernas for the right summer pleasure. Freshly caught fish, unavoidable “tzaziki”, Greek Salad, biscuits with almonds (Kourabiedes), pastries, cheese …make up for irresistible flavors and delicious snacks. Try Kavala’s famous Greek fine wines, made in the most distinguished wineries Biblia Hora nestled at the foot of Mount Panggaio. Except for its good cuisine and wines, Kavala is known for song and dance, especially folklore. Join the famous international folklore festival “Sun & stone” which is held every year in July, in which ensembles from our country participate.
HOW TO GET TO KAVALA
Kavala is linked by ferry with many islands of the Aegean Sea. In addition, there is a regular train line to Drama, and at a distance of 30 km from Kavala is the Megas Alexandros airport. The bus runs regularly from Thessaloniki taking about 2 hours (160km). For tourists from Serbia, the most important fact is that the road network is excellent.
WHAT TO SEE IN KAVALA
What characterizes the city is the old city peninsula, called Panagia and is traditional part of town with narrow cobblestone streets and the white houses covered with red roofs. Visit the 5 century old aqueduct built by the Grand Viceroy Ibrahim Pasha. Kavala has a folklore museum and archaeological museum. The best panoramic view of the city is from one of the towers of the fortress. The price for entering the fortress is around €5. Try to go at dusk, when magical colors cover the sky, and watch the sunset. Walk the pier, have ice cream or coffee or eat at one of the taverns. These are all essential activities. Close to Kavala, proving invaluable to its cultural heritage is the ancient archaeological site of Philippi, located on the Southeast side of the city.
THE BEACH OF KAVALA
If you thought that the main feature of this city is the fortress, you are fooled. Kavala is one long beach. If we move down the coast from the West to the East, Kariani turns into Sarakina, and Mirtofito into Eleohori. Ammolofoi follows being the most beautiful sandy beach of Greece, characterized by shallow and crystal clear water. Moving toward the city: Nea Irakleitsa, Palio, Tosca, Batis, Kalamitsa, Rapsani and Perigiali. You are free to choose a place for your yearly holiday residence and try a new beach every day.
The Greek spirit is characterized by religious emphasis. If you take the scenic route, you can reach the monastery of St. Demetrios in Nikisiani, the monastery of the mother of God Panagia, the monastery of Saint Panteleimon, and on top of a mountain the monastery of the Virgin Ikosifinissa. We encourage you to enjoy the Greek villages, visit the village taverns and try new foods.
FLAVORS FROM KAVALA
The local specialties are rice with mussels, fried shrimp, Saganaki, and for dessert, try the Karvali pastry with almonds (Kourabiedes). Drink Metaxa cognac wine and try local tsipouro or ouzo. The Greeks are top caterers and they know what to please your taste buds.
The most famous events are the theatre festival of Philippi and the folk festival Cosmopolis.