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Kavala: The historic tobacco city

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The historic tobacco city

Amphitheatrically built between the sea of the North Aegean and the foot of Mount Symbol, the fourth largest city of Greece is a multi-faceted and welcoming town with 2,500 years of fascinating history. Once the ancient Neapolis, the seaport of the historic city of Philippi, the Byzantine Christopolis, the Ottoman Kavala, the Mecca of Balkan tobacco industry and trading in modern times, this city has witnessed historical events that shaped Western civilization.

As a modern urban center, an important port of Eastern Macedonia and a starting point for trips to the islands of the North Aegean, Kavala continues to radiate elegance and authenticity through its unique architectural monuments, its wonderful museums and its full-bodied gastronomic culture. The city is surrounded by the exuberant nature of mythical Mount Paggaio and Nestos River that promises unforgettable adventures to ecotourism enthousiasts.

Routes & attractions

A World Heritage Site (UNESCO, 2016) and one of the most important cities of the Greco-Roman civilization, the ancient city of Philippi (360 BC) is the most famous attraction of Kavala. Built in an evergreen valley (just 18 kilometers from the city), the archaeological site of Philippi is a magnet for visitors thanks to its magnificent monuments. Among them, the emblematic ancient theater of Philippi, the Roman Agora, the two early Christian basilicas that testify to the splendour of the historic state. To the west, next to the river Zygaktis, the imposing Holy Baptistery of Saint Lydia of Philippisias, dedicated to Lydia, the first woman to be baptised as a Christian in Europe; she was baptised here by Apostle Paul (45-50 AD).

In the city of Kavala, marvel at the Medieval Fortress of the Acropolis (15th century ). Built on the top of Panagia Peninsula, the granite castle town offers panoramic views across the city. In its shade unfolds the atmospheric Old Town, a cluster of cobbled uphill passageways, colorful mansions with wooden balconies, blooming courtyards and dazzling historical monuments. Admire the fairytale building complex of Imaret (19th century), a masterpiece of the Ottoman Baroque and once an Islamic seminary. Visit the beautifully restored Halil Bey Mosque or "Music Mosque" (1530) and the Muhammad Ali House – Museum (Pasha of Egypt), and travel back to the Ottoman city of the 18th century.

From the city's Lighthouse you’ll enjoy the most beautiful sunset, and the view of Thassos and Mount Athos. An imaginary border between the Old and New Town, the monumental arched Aqueduct (16th century ) is awe-inspiring. Built of granite bricks, with a length of 280 meters and 60 arches, it supplied the city with water until 1930.

Kavala the city of the glamorous bourgeoisie of commerce and tobacco industry comes alive in the charming New Town. Visit the state-of-the-art Tobacco Museum for an immersion tour into the "Mecca of Tobacco", as the city was known from the mid-19th century to 1950. Wander around the historical tobacco warehouses of the time, unique monuments of industrial architectural heritage. Walk through Cyprus Street, an open-air museum of architecture with imposing urban mansions - towers and magnificent neoclassical buildings of the19th and  20th centuries. Among them, homes of wealthy tobacco merchants and public buildings. In the impressive Archaeological Museum of Kavala, admire the large collection of figurines and vases.

Beaches & Activities

The long coastline of Kavala promises a great diversity of beaches, all sandy with blue waters and easily accessible. Discover the enchanting Tosca, the dazzling Perigiali and the bustling municipal beach of Kalamitsa with deep emerald waters and many options for sports, the most popular beach among young people.

Explore the sandy Batis that embraces a dazzling bay with turquoise waters and the exotic Ammolofi (i.e. Dunes) west of Peramos, a series of three white beaches with sports infrastructure and beach bars. Pass by Nea Iraklitsa, the natural harbor of the namesake picturesque village, a favorite beach for families and surfers.

Do not miss the cosmopolitan Ammoglossa Keramotis with the famous fish tavernas, an exotic strip of golden sand that stretches into the deep blue of the Aegean, at the tip of a pine-covered peninsula.

Within a short distance from the urban center of Kavala, unfolds the enchanting nature of the mythical Paggaio Mountain and Nestos River. Wander through picturesque traditional villages and dense oak forests, admire the castles and Byzantine monasteries, visit vineyards and wineries. Follow hiking trails and try mountain sports, from motor cross to climbing. In the stunning Nestos Delta, discover a wonderful area for hiking, horseback riding and bird watching or rafting and canoe kayak down the river.

Rejuvenate with a natural clay spa treatmentin the thermal mud baths of Krinides. Plan an excursion to the "Emerald Island" of Thassos or try water sports, from windsurfing to diving in Nea Irakleitsa and Keramoti.

Follow the ancient cobbled paths and the historic "Water Road", a romantic footpath through the dazzling stone bridges that connect Kavala with Palaia Kavala, following the flow of the water towards the Aqueduct.

Tastes of Kavala

The gastronomic identity of Kavala is an addictive mosaic of culinary traditions that promotes fine local products, honors the city's refugee past and harmoniously combines popular and urban cuisine.

As one of the largest fishing centers in the country, the area is famous for its seafood dishes. The worldwide famous sardine of Kavala and the fine mussels of Keramoti are transformed into tasteful masterpieces such as the sardine pilaf originating from Pontos, the traditional mussel risotto or mydosarmades, a recipe from Asia Minor with rice, pine nuts and raisins stuffing. Try also lobsters, octopus, shrimp, anchovies wrapped in vine leaves, herring in saganaki and mackerel (skoubri gouna). Discover the asparagus balls (sparagokeftedakia) and piperolachana (pickled cabbage with white beans). Taste soutzoukakia, in the traditional recipe from Smyrne, rooster with trahana and fried zucchini with yogurt.

Enjoy the delicious dishes with fine tsipouro from the small distilleries of the area and of course the world award-winning wines of Paggaio Mountain. The great wine-growing tradition of the area counts 23 wineries and 99 wine labels for wine aficionados. Do not leave Kavala without trying the famous kourabiedes of Nea Karvali and syrupy donuts (with chocolate dressing or ice cream).

Traditions & Events

The city's top cultural event held every summer, the emblematic Philippi & Kavala Festival, a two-month series of ancient drama, contemporary theater, music, dance and visual arts happenings, is a magnet for Greek and foreign visitors.

 

Of particular interest is the Cosmopolis International Music and Arts Festival (May-December), a multi-dimensional journey through music and dance traditions of various countries. Art and nature come together at Wood Water Wild, a two-day alternative Festival with music, sports & outdoor Activities that takes place in September on the nature trail of Palaia Kavala. Also in September, the city hosts the atmospheric Kavala Night City Run.

The area of Kavala is rich in unique traditional customs and rural celebrations. Do not miss the Tsipouro Festival on the coastal pedestrian street of Nea Peramos (late October), to be initiated into the ritual of production of the sacred distillate, accompanied by fine appetizers. Also, the Chestnut Festival in the chestnut forest of Palaiochori (late October - early November) and the Potato Festival in Lekani, with customs, dances and dishes from Pontos (on the first Sunday of September). Friends of folklore, it is worth attending the impressive "Custom of the Arapides" in Nikisiani (January 6), a revival of an ancient worship custom that symbolizes fertility. Also, the Cappadocian pagan custom of "Sagia" for welcoming the new year (on the eve of the Epiphany) in Nea Karvali.

Don't miss...

Discover the amazing prehistoric rock paintings, at the southern entrance of the city of Philippi, an exciting journey into life at the time through 180 relief representations of everyday scenes.

MAP OF KAVALA
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