New York.- Vicki James Yiannias
Earlier this year anevent hosted by Consul General Dr. Konstantinos Koutras at the Consulate General of Greece in New York, a photographic exhibition Archaeological Site of Philippi: A Landmark of European Heritage, for which archaeologists came from Greece, created great enthusiasm for going to Philippi and its environs. Philippi is located between the modern cities of Kavala, Mt. Pagaion and Drama.
Just how far back do you want to begin regarding the immense historical and cultural importance of this region of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace? One of the most important sites in the Balkans, the first archaeological evidence of organized life in the area of Philippi, is the 6,200 BC settlement of Orthopetra ((Dikli Tash) in Krinides, the oldest Neolithic settlement in the whole of Eastern Macedonia-Thrace. Sorry, my mistake. Orthopetra is just the oldest Late Stone Age settlement in that region. In nearby Kryoneri, you can see rock art that was engraved into outdoor horizontal limestone surfaces 500,000 years ago.
Jump to the late 7th century B.C., when colonists from Thasos founded the first city there, Knides, later conquered by Philip II, king of Macedon.
Neapolis and Philippi became the gateway to Christianity in Europe and the western world when in 49 A.D. Apostle Paul and his companions traveled from Troy to Macedonia bringing the gospel of Christ to Europe for the first time. From Neapolis they walked to the mountain chain of Symbolo. traveling along the Via Egnatia to the famous city of Philippi where Paul baptized Lydia, the first Christian, in the river Zygatis, founding the first church on European soil at the site. (To this day people travel to Philippi to be baptized in this river). From there, Christianity spread throughout Greece and the rest of Europe. This is reflected in the preserved early Christian monuments which are the places of worship of the Apostolic Church of Philippi, the Monument of Saint Paul and the St. Lydia Baptistry among them.
A “Blue City” with crystal-clear coasts, the 2,500 year-old city, the capital city of the Kavala regional unit (the easternmost within the geographical region of Macedonia) built right on the sea, is the oldest city with a harbor in northern Greece. Some places to see in the city of Kavala, buildings of great architectural interest among them: the Wix Mansion, the Town Hall of Kavala, the Great Clubhouse, the Lazaristan Monastery, the Tokou Mansion, the Municipal Tobacco Museum, the Municipal Conservatory, the monument to Apostle Paul, the Archaeological Museum of Kavala, the Nautical Museum of Kavala, the Ethnographic Museum of the Greeks of Cappadocia Nea Karvali, Museum of Greek Refugees, Fortress of Kavala, Mehmet Ali’s House,
Festivals! Kavala hosts many cultural events during the summer months. Since 1957, the Festival of Philippi has been the city’s most important cultural event and one of the most important of Greece. Running from July to September, it includes theatrical performances and music concerts.
Cosmopolis Festiuval, an ethnic festival in mid-July, mainly in the Old Town of Kavala (Panagia), features music, dance, gastronomy, cinema, visual arts and theatrical events from around the world with the aim of communication through cultural exchange.
The International Festival of Music, Yiannis A. Papaioannou, in July, promotes the music of the Kavala-born composer with events held at the OSCAR CInema, the Municipal Conservatory of Kavala, the Ancient Theater of Philippi, the Fortress, and in open-air venues in the city. The festival hosts Greek and foreign musicians, and seminars, workshops, presentations and lectures addressed to young musicians.
Ilios kai Petra (Sun and Stone), in July, is a folkloric festival held in “Akontisma” of Nea Karvali, with the participation of traditional dancing groups from all over the world.
The Wood Water Wild Festival, in June, a two-day festival of outdoor activities inspired by nature is held at the environmental Trail of Palia Kavala, 15 minutes from the city. The festival includes concerts, outdoor theatre, debates. outdoor sports, workshops for children, races, mountain bike races, and camping.
The Kavala Air Sea Show, in late June, a unique 3-day festival that takes place in the sea at the port of Kavala, attracts thousands of visitors from the wider Balkan area. It involves a series of concurrent shows featuring airplanes, helicopters and other means of air and sea transport.
For the most part the landscape surrounding the Philippi archaeological site—dense forests, waterfalls, clear springs, century-old plane trees, stone bridges and historical trails—have been preserved from antiquity to today, so an escape into nature can be part of your fabulous trip to Eastern Macedonia-Thrace.
Beaches of Kavala, with exact instructions on how to get to each: Baits, a beach in a beautiful, picturesque gulf, awarded a Blue Flag for its clean waters and excellent layout offers swimming pools with bars, a beach bar, a restaurant, a campsite and a free car park. The beach can be reached by bus #8 during the summer and by the long-distance bus for Nea Peramos during the rest of the year.
Tosca, a beach that makes you feel so close yet so far from the bustle of Kavala’s center, also awarded a Blue Flag for its clean waters and layout offers sand, serene waters, trees running down to the beach, a bar, a restaurant serving Mediterranean dishes, and a 4-star hotel on the site. You can take the bus for Nea Peramos to get to Tosca.
If you prefer to stay close to town, take bus #11 to the beach of Perigiali, also having the wonderful aspect of trees and shade close to the sand. For the feel of the Greece you might yearn for, you can walk to fish tavernas a few meters away and relax with an ouzo next to the waves. Also two steps away from a taverna is the centrally located beach of Rapsani, next to the Municipal Park of Faliro.
On the Egnatia motorway, Kavala is easy to reach. It is a 99 mile drive on European route E90 from Thessaloniki, and has regular bus connections from and to Thessaloniki and Athens. The Kavala International Airport “Alexander the Great”, 17 miles outside of Kavala, has regularly scheduled flights to Athens and many European cities as well as charter flights. Ferry lines connect the city with all the islands of the Northern Aegean Sea, and buses connect Kavala to all the local villages.
In a heartfelt invitation to us all, the organizers of the exhibition, Archaeological Site of Philippi: A Landmark of European Heritage, offer individual tourist guides to Philippi starting from the city of Kavala this summer.
Let’s Go to Kavala This Summer!
For more information: https://www.visitkavala.gr/en/sightseeing