Before you set out for Polygyros, don't forget to buy some of Halkidiki's famous thyme - scented honey. A small pretty town, Polygyros is the capital of Halkidiki prefecture; it boasts a wonderful market ehere you might want to pick up some of the district's lovely handwoden fabrics. You can also get here by the main road direct from Thessaloniki, and we'll join this road north of Polygyros on our way east.
After Arnaia lies Stayira, where the great philosopher Aristotle was born and where are ancient mines and medieval buildings to poke around. Next comes Stratoni, at the entrance to the Gulf of Ierissos. From here, we'll head south first to take a look at the ruins of ancient Akanthos at Ierissos and then move on to Nea Roda, where Xerxes cut a canal in 480 BC so that his invasion fleet would not have to round the Athos promontory. Next comes Tripiti with the wooded islet of Amoliani opposite, its pretty beaches linked to the mainland by a little ferryboat. Once we've reached here, we might as well proceed a futher south to Ouranoupolis, an unspoilt town that's been named a landmark, where we can enjoy its beach and visit its Byzantine tower.
We however, we'll go back to Stratoniand continue on to Olympiada, Stavros and Asprovalta. The main road between Thessaloniki and Kavalla is a quicker route to thisgreen and popular resort area on the shores of the Strymonic Gulf.
Taking the Thessaloniki - Kavala highway, we pass Nea Kerdylia and bit further on cross the Strymon river, where the Lion of Amphipolis stands guard, a monument to the battle fought here, and a reminded that the whole area is filled with ancient sites that have yielded important finds.
At Amphipolis, we'll take the road on the right, not only because it's the fastest way to Kavalla, but because it will give us the chance to get some of the lovely Pangaion mountain range, famed since antiquity. Dionysos was worshipped on its wooded slopes and gold was discovered here in ancient times, providing ample cause for strife among rival states. You can still see traces of the mines near Eleftheroupolis in the eastern foothills.
After Eleftheroupolis we encounter modern tourist development once more, whether we head a bit further south or continuing on our eastern route.
To the south, on the coast at Nea Heraklitsa and Nea Peramos, we come to a hospitable district where tourism is in full swing. Nea Peramos possesses the additional attraction of antiquities, being the site of an ancient city.
To the east lies Kavalla, one of Greece's most important cities, a hub for business, shipping and the fishing industry. Here you'll find much of interest: the archaeological museum with finds from Abdera, Adrianople and other ancient cities in the vicinity; the old fortification walls in the Panayia neighbourood, left over from Byzantium; and the medieval citadel. Then there's the Imaret. one of the most characteristic mansions of the Turkish period, reminding us that Kavala was the birthplace of Mehmet Ali, founded of the Egyptian dynasty. And of course, the city's dominant landmark, the Kamares Aqueduct, built during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent.
To Conclude our tour of the town, there are other things of interest in Kavala, especially around the port and the streets nearby. Once you've wandered here to your satisfacton, you should make a point of going out of town, 15 km to the north, to visit one of the most important historical and archaeological sites in Greece - Philippi.
Founded in the 4th century BC by Philip II because of the proximity of the Pangaion mines, it became the scene of an historic battle in 42 BC when Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus and Cassius in the struggle for power after the death of Julius Ceasar. It was here too that Saint Paul first preached the Gospel in Europe. Phillippi's theatre is one of the largest ancient theatres to have survived, and plays are staged here every summer. The other ruins - the Forum, the Palestra, the Sanctuaries, the Acropolis - bear to Philippi follows the same course as the Via Egnatia, sections of which can still be seen, and the museum holds a wealth of exhibits from the Neolithic, Greek, Roman and early Christian periods.
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