Kavala (Greek: Καβάλα)

18 December 2013 By In Alumni

Kavala (Greek: Καβάλα) is a city in northern Greece, the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and the capital of Kavala regional unit. It is situated on the Bay of Kavala, across from the island of Thasos. Kavala is located on the Egnatia motorway and is an one and a half-hour drive to Thessaloniki (160 kilometres (99 miles) west) and forty minutes drive to Drama (37 km (23 miles) north) and Xanthi (56 km (35 miles) east). Its nickname is The cyan city (Η γαλάζια πόλη).

The city was founded by settlers from Thassos about at the end of the 7th century BC, who called it Neapolis (Νεάπολις "new city" in Greek). It was one of the colonies that the Thassians founded in the coastline, in order to take advantage of the rich gold and silver mines of the territory, especially the ones that were located to the nearby Pangaion mountain (which were eventually exploited by Phillip the Second of Macedonia).

The worship of "Parthenos", a female deity of Greek - Ionian origin is archaeologically attested in the archaic period. At the end of the 6th century BC Neapolis claimed its independence from Thassos and cut its own silver coins with the head of Gorgo (γοργὀνειο) at the one side as a symbol. At the beginning of the 5th century BC a large ionic temple from thassian marble replaced the archaic one. Parts of it can now be seen in the archaeological museum of Kavala.

In 411 BC, during the Peloponnesian War, Neapolis was sieged by the allied armies of the Spartans and the Thassians, but remained faithful to Athens. Two athenian honorary decrees in 410 and 407 BC rewarded Neapolis for its loyalty.

Neapolis was a town of Macedonia, and the harbor of Philippi from which it was distant 14 km (9 mi). Neapolis was a member of the Athenian Leaque, as a pillar found in Athens mentions a contribution of Neapolis to the alliance.

The military Roman road Via Egnatia passed through the city helped commerce to flourish. It became a Roman civitas in 168 BC, and was a base for Brutus and Cassius in 42 BC, before their defeat in the Batlle of Philippi. . ( Appian , B.C. iv. 106;Dion Cass xlvii. 35.). The Apostle Paul landed at Kavala on his first voyage to Europe (Acts, xvi. 11).

In the 6th century Byzantine emperor Justinian I fortified the city in an effort to protect it from barbaric raids. In later Byzantine times the city was called Christoupolis (Χριστούπολις, "city of Christ") and belonged to the theme of Macedonia. The first mention of the new name is recorded in a taktikon of the early 9th century. The city is also mentioned in the "Life of St. Gregory the Decapolite". In the 8th and 9th century Bulgarian attacks forced the Byzantines to reorganize the defense of the area, giving great care to Christoupolis with fortification and a notable garrison. In 926 the Byzantine general (stratigos) Vasilios Klaudon reconstructed the fallen walls of the city, ("τα πριν φθαρέντα και πεπτωκότα τείχη") according to an inscription that is now in the archaeological museum of Kavala. Due to the location of

Christoupolis, the city experienced an economic flourish, securing the contact betweenConstantinople and Thessaloniki. During the Norman raid of Macedonia in 1185, the city was captured and was burned. In 1302, the Catalonians failed to capture the city. In order to prevent them from coming back, the Byzantine emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos built a new long defensive wall ("το παρά την Χριστούπολιν τείχισμα"). In 1357 is mentioned that the Byzantine officers and brothers Alexios and Ioannis (John) controlled the city and its territory. Recent excavations have revealed the ruins of an early Byzantine basilica under an old Ottoman mosque in the old part of the city (Panagia peninsula). This Christian temple was used until the late Byzantine era, as the also recently revealed small cemetery around it shows. The Ottoman Turks first captured the city in 1387 and completely destroyed it in 1391, as a Mount Athos chronicle testifies.

Monuments and landmarks

Kamares (The old aqueduct): The old aqueduct is work of the Roman/Byzantine period, which held extensive repairs during the Ottoman rule, particularly during the reign of Suleiman 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 ((6 km (4 miles)) 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.Source: «Medieval Aqueduct of Kavala – Arcs», Publication of 12th Service of Byzantine and Ancient Antiquities, Kavala, 2008

* The Castle of Kavala: dominates the top of the peninsula, where the old city is built. During the Byzantine period and later, repeated reconstruction works and fortification repairs were made by the Byzantines, Venetians and Turks. Substantially, all the phases of the Modern History affect the castle and left their traces on its walls. The castle (Citadel) in its current form was built in the first quarter of the 15th century, relying on foundation from the Byzantine period. At the outdoor theatre are organized cultural events

* The Imaret: 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). It is one of the last built in this particular period and the only one survived almost intact. Its largest part was built, between 1817-1821 by the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, Mehmet Ali. For sentimental reasons, the Wali 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.Since 1922, the Imaret spaces were used to house refugees. In 1931, in order for the adjacent street to be widened, a part of Imaret was

demolished. In 1967 the residents (refugees mostly) of Imaret were ordered to leave and the monument was sealed.Until the regulation of the ownership, Imaret remained completely deserted. After the settlement of property issues a part of it operated as bar and restaurant while other parts were used as warehouses. 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.

* The house of Mehmet Ali: In the Old Town Square you can find the house that Mehmet Ali, founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, was born. This beautiful building, based on Macedonian architecture, is considered to be the property of Egypt . The "konaki" 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 Mohammed Ali Institute

* The Town Hall : The building, a Hungarian miniature tower, was built around 1895 by the Hungarian tobacco trader Pierre Herzog. After his death, the building passed into the possession of the "Limited Liability Company of Tobacco and Overseas". In 1937, under the administration of Mayor Athanasios Balanos, it was purchased by the Municipality of Kavala and has since housed the town hall.

* Adolf Wix Mansion: The building was built in 1899 by the German Baron Adolf Wix to serve as the centre of commercial activity and as a house. Architecturally speaking, it is very similar to the adjacent building of the current town hall. Today, after several changes in ownership, it belongs to the municipality of Kavala.

* The Lazarists (Vincentians) Convent: The convent of Lazarists is situated in Kipros Str. and was built between 1888-1892. The building has architectural elements mixed with neoclassical influence and was used as a French Embassy. Today it houses the only Catholic church in the city.

* The Great Greek community club (Megali Leschi): The building of «Megali Leschi» of the Great Greek Community Club of Kavala was built in 1909 by the Ladies Philoptochos (Friends of the poor) Sisterhood. It is a typical example of eclectic architectural style with a lot of embedded neoclassical motifs, e.g. Columns, Pediments etc. Located next to the town hall, it is used for secular organization and other social events. While in neoclassical form it has elements of ancient tradition. Today, its partially used by the Municipality for cultural events due to the restoration works that have already started.

* Tokos Mansion: Tokos Mansion was built in 1879 by Dimitrios Tokos a tobacco trader and its architectural style is influenced by romantic eclecticism. During the first years of the 20th century the Mansion was used as Italian Subconsulate and in 1911 it was purchased on behalf of the Ladies Philoptochos Society of Kavala (Friends of the Poor). From 1913 to1937, it housed the town hall and from its terrace in 1929 Eleftherios Venizelos made his speech. After the Second World War it housed the Private School Papassideri. Today it houses the Revenue Department of Byzantine Antiquities.

* Municipal Conservatory: The building of the Municipal Conservatory (along with the adjacent building once owned by Kleon Krantonellis) is the oldest among the houses having been built before 1864.It belonged to the N. and E. Grigoriadis Brothers, two of the first tobacco traders. After World War I, it served as a Bank and since 1987 (it was inaugurated in its present form in 1990) it has belonged to the Municipality of Kavala and houses the Municipal Conservatory. Its strong neoclassical character, its impressive frontons, the columns and the sculptures indicate the architect's attempt to emphasize on the power, wealth and the national pride sourcing from the ancient tradition.

* Municipal Tobacco Warehouse: The Municipal Tobacco Warehouse was built during the two first decades of the 20th century as a tobacco warehouse for the Turkish tobacco trader Kizi Mimin. The building is characterized by architectural and morphological elements of Ottoman-Turkish and Neo-Classical architecture.Today it belongs to the Municipality of Kavala and will host exhibits of the Folk Museum of Kavala, the Tobacco Museum and series of temporary exhibitions.

* The statue of Nike (Victory): The bronze statue of Victory is in the public garden in the area in front of the Town Hall. The relief image was created by sculptor Dionysios Gerolymatos and refers to the struggle of Greeks from the ancient times up until 1940-41. The bronze statue is by sculptor John Parmakelis.


Highway Network

European route E90 runs through the city and connects Kavala with the other cities. The Egnatia Motorway A2 lies north of the city. One can enter the city from one of two Junctions; 'Kavala West' and 'Kavala East'.Kavala has regular connection with Interregional Bus Lines (KTEL) from and to Thessaloniki and Athens.