In this early summer, before the massive wave of tourists sweeps unbridled, why not experience a stroll in Kavala located 175 kilometers from Thessaloniki in Greece? Kavala, which name is related to horses, was an important coaching inn on the road to Istanbul. Built amphitheatrically along the Aegean Sea with numerous beaches, the city is especially important, thanks to the history that created it and the sites and museums it owns.
Baptized successively Neapolis which led to gold reserves from Paggaio, in the Greek period of Philip the II, it was named Christopolis (the city of Christe) in 746 during the Byzantine era. Kavala, located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, was an important trading post in Roman times. In 42 BC, a decisive battle took place on the current archaeological site of Philippi marking the passage of the Republic to the Roman Empire. The fortifications and the castle still visible in the district of the old city of Panayia go back to the Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman period. The acropolis was supplied for a long time in water thanks to the Roman aqueduct of Kamares, and later rebuilt by the Ottomans in the 14th century. It is certainly from the top of the castle and its fortifications made of granite, marble and bricks that one has the most beautiful scenery of the city.
Visit Kavala for its old town of Panayia
One will be seduced by the old city rather than by the modern districts of Kavala which wharf has an authentic charm. There are many Egyptian fishermen there, mending their multicolored fishing nets and some very good typical restaurants. During a one hour boat trip from Kavala’s port, you might plan an overnight stay on the island of Thassos. The various ferries cover the routes to Lemnos, Mytilini, Chios and Samos.
The old city has also preserved the traces of the Ottoman ruler Muhammad Ali who had built many religious institutions including Halil Bey complex and its mosque built in the 16th century on the foundations of a Christian church. We will not miss the visit of his Imaret (house of the poor) built under the last Egyptian dynasty. The place is made up of two Koranic schools as well as an old food supply center for the poor.Today, this magnificent architectural heritage from the Turkish Baroque period has been transformed into a luxurious hotel punctuated with interior patios and three citrus gardens to visit in case you are discouraged by the price of the rooms !
The Museums of Kavala
Because of the richness of its history, Kavala offers many landmarks such as its archaeological sites but also very beautiful museums …
The Archaeological Museum
One can discover the archaeological museum which counts among the most important ones in Greece (Neolithic and Roman period…). An artefact of objects from eastern Macedonia and from ancient Thrace are gathered as well as remains dating from the Ionic architecture and many sculptures, vases and figurines dedicated to the gods.
Tobacco, a major source of income in the 19th century
Until after the Second World War, Kavala was the “Μecca of tobacco” with its warehouses, real industrial monuments. Becoming a thriving commercial city thanks to the development of tobacco growing, its trading activities became numerous throughout the world. From 1950 the city had more than fifty tobacco companies and 160 warehouses, thus creating many jobs. The Tobacco Museum today traces the different stages of the tobacco trade in a very interesting way, without forgetting to mention the first trade union movements against employers management and the economic crisis of 1929 which contributed to the decline of this important production center in Kavala.
St. Lydia Church
On the banks of the Zygaktis River, where Lydia was the first woman to be baptized by the apostle St. Paul, is the church of St. Lydia. Of recent manufacture, the interior presents rich and colorful decorations. This church remains an important place of pilgrimage for people from all over the world.
Philippi’s archeological site
Located near Krinides, the site of Philippi remains the oldest archaeological place dating from the Neolithic in the Balkans. Settlers from the island of Thassos established in 360 BC by founding the city of Krinides.
Conquered by the King of Macedonia Philip the II, the city was fortified and took the name of its sovereign. In the Hellenic era, private residences were erected as well as the walls of the city and an impressive open-air theater introducing ancient Greek tragedies and classical music concerts.
The international festival Yiannis Papaioannou takes place in July and invests among others, the ancient theater of Philippi site.
How to get there
Transavia Paris / Thessaloniki flights from 130 euros on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Count 1h30 by taxi or shuttle bus to Kavala.
Where to stay
In the west area of Kavala
Lucy Hotel -5 stars
Deluxe double room with sea view & breakfast from 126 euros.
In the old town
Boutique -Hotel Imaret
30-32, rue Poulidou – Kavala
Kavala / Double rooms from 300 euros
What to see
4 Paleologou Konstadinou, Kavala 654 03
Spend 1h30 for a complete visit.
Archaeological Museum of Kavala
Vasileos Pavlou Av, Kavala 654 03
Philippi Archaeological Museum and Site
Classified as World Heritage by UNESCO in 2016
Between April and October: open every day from 8h to 20h (otherwise 15h). Combined ticket for the museum and the site 6 € (-18 years free).
Thanks to the Kavala Tourism Office team and the Hellenic National Tourism Office in Paris.