halkidiki greece sea seagull village 600x400Halkidiki Greece

Halkidiki is a very versatile region, characterized by miscellaneous landscapes. The peninsula is famous for its long coastlines but also the Holomondos-mountains, shaping the central North, providing a highly impressive landscape. Forests and a wide flora in combination with the clear waters of the Aegean Sea lead to an omnipresent color composition of Blue and Green.

Halkidiki-Greece provides for each territory its own representation including a presentation of each village, its sightseeing-points, emergency contacts, guides about accommodation, gastronomic facilities, local services, hiking-routes and offers about local leisure activities

Halkidiki – Chalkidiki is a peninsula in the region Macedonia in Northern Greece surrounded by the Northern Aegean Sea. The peninsula consist a massive area in the Northwest and lead to three elongate Peninsulas in the South: Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos (In the Greek usage these peninsulas are usually called ‘legs’).

Due the shape and based on the Greek Mythology, Halkidiki also is described as the ‘Trident of Poseidon’. Administrative capital of Halkidiki is Polygyros, a town centrally located in the back-country.

Halkidiki is subdivided into five municipalities.
Polygyros - Nea Propontida - Aristotelis - Kassandra - Sithonia

Athos, the third ‘leg’ of the peninsulas is governed as an autonomous monastic state within the Greek Republic. For this reason it is not mentioned in the list of Halkidiki’s municipalities above.

The gulfs around Halkidiki
• The ‘Thermaic Gulf’ between the western coast of Halkidiki and the Greek mainland in the West and the Strymonic Gulf on the East of Halkidiki
• The ‘Toronaic Gulf’ between Kassandra and Sithonia and the Singitic Gulf between Sithonia and Athos

The name of the region Halkidiki refers to Chalkis, one of the 4 city states of Euboea. Among others, also settlers from Chalkis founded colonies in Halkidiki around 800BC.
The earliest known organized settlements in Chalkidiki were founded by Thracians and Pelasgians around 4.000BC. First evidence of native tribes can be dated to 700.000BC. Most prominent evidences are the findings in the cave of Petralona.

Halkidiki or Chalkidiki?
Both are right. The word Chalkidiki refers to the Latin ‘Chalcidice’ and might be the most popular international expression. Yet, the locally preferred spelling is ‘Halkidiki’
This is a local project, so we prefer using the term ‘Halkidiki’. It's also closer to the Greek way of pronunciation.


Chalkidiki (Halkidiki) - A brief historical review

The earliest mention of Chalkidiki appears in the Greek mythology. Thus, it came to a showdown between gods and giants on the 'field of Flegraio'. According to this legend, the area of Athos was created by a boulder which the giant Enceladius (Giant responsible for earthquakes) has thrown on the gods of Olympus.
The Peninsula Sithonia referred its name from Sithons, son of the god Poseidon.

Due to anthropological evidence based on finds, lead to the conclusion that early tribes in the area of Chalkidiki can be dated to a period 700 000 years ago. The most popular relicts of this early period are human remains discovered in the cave of Petralona in the western north of Chalkidiki.

The oldest, organized settlements in Chalkidiki are founded by Thracian and Pelagic colonies around 4 000 BC followed by colonialists of the tribe of Bottaia. The geographical origin of this tribe of Bottaia remained unknown. Thereafter settlers from the South-Hellenic regions, primary from the territories of Eretria and Chalkis, entered the area to establish further colonies. New settlements were built near the coast. Although these polis rarely outgrow about the size of small towns they archived greater prosperity by a brisk trade with the southern and eastern regions.
By the construction of imposing temples in Afitis (Today 'Afytos' or 'Athitos'), commercial centers in Mykivernas, wealthy private properties in Olynthos and castles & ports in Toroni the polis demonstrated by innovative urbanism the prosperity of their era.

During the Greco-Persian War the area of Chalkidiki was on the line of approach of the Persian forces under the command of King Xerxes I in his campaign against the Greek city-states. After the Persian invasion was fended, the Delian league was founded 478 BC in order to protect Greek territories and trade-routes from further possible attacks. Athens had the leading role in this federation. Many of the coastal towns joined the Delian League but left this alliance again before the Peloponnesian War to take an alliance with the nearby city Potidaia.

At the end of the 5th century the 32 major cities joined in a union called 'common Halkidiki' (gr. 'κοινόν των Χαλκιδέων') by the kingdom of Olynthos. However this union was shattered 379 BC by the Spartans. 348 BC this area was consolidated and joined the Macedonian Empire under the rule of King Phillip II.
Duning the Hellenic era three important cities were founded: Kassandria (315 BC), Ouranoupolis (315 BC) and Antigoneia (280 BC). The invasion by the Romans in the year 168 BC led to the decline of the cities, henceforth controlled by Roman merchants.
50 AD Chalkidiki converted to Christianity and was traveled and evangelized by the Apostle Paul. During the subsequent centuries the region had to face many devastating invasions headed by Huns, Goths and Catalans.

In the 8th and 9th century Chalkidiki was related to Thessaloniki. As a result of an arrangement, Monks and hermits from eastern areas were given the permission to settle down in Chalkidiki. Place of the implementation of this imperial policy was the deserted peninsula Athos. The residents of this area were evacuated during the previous Arab invasion. Consequently remarkable monasteries arisen on Athos followed by the establishment of this area as the official acknowledged center of Orthodoxy due to the edict in 885 AD of the Macedonian King.

Mid-14th century large parts of Chalkidiki fell under Serbian control while Kassandra were ruled by the Venetians until the region was completely enslaved by the Ottoman regime in 1430.
Despite the massive repression, an increase of prosperity of the coastal villages was talking place in the mid-15th century based on the exploitation of mineral deposits, sericulture and increased grain-production. However these circumstances made the region to an attractive target for frequent pirate attacks.
In 1821 a revolution rose under the leadership of Emmanuel Pappas but turned out unsuccessful and led into a disaster. In the course of the revolution many villages were completely destroyed by the Ottoman occupying power whereby a great many of local people lost their lives.
The first revolution was followed by another in the year 1854 under the command of Tsiamis Karatasos but also remained without success. In 1878 a third attempt of a revolutionary movement was immediately avoided by preventative measures of the Ottoman occupation and its process was interrupted in the beginning.
In the early 20th century Chalkidiki was involved in the Balkan-war. Some groups participated with the Macedonian troops to the fight the occupying power in smaller guerilla units. In October 1912 the region was liberated from the occupation. In the years 1912/1913 Greece has experienced major territorial gains that finally led into the long-desired freedom and the independence of Greece.
1922 Greece developed the 'great idea' (Greek: Μεγάλη Ιδέα'); an attempt to take advance of the collapsed Ottoman Empire to free Greek towns located in the region Asia Minor. This freeing-attempt turned out unsuccessful with disastrous consequences. Turkey responded with the conquest of Greek districts in the city Smirni (now: Izmir). During the first days of the assault 40 000 inhabitants were murdered and the Greek districts were destroyed by fire. In Greek history this defeat is still know as the 'Asia Minor catastrophe'. In following consequence a rigorous exchange of populations took place, in which the Greek survivors were forced to flee from the area. During the escape further thousands Greek refugees were killed. Therefore the end of Hellenism in Asia Minor was sealed. Many of the survivors settled in the region of Chalkidiki to start all over again. In Halkidiki some of the houses were built in the adapted architecture of the former native country in Asia Minor. Few of the old houses still exists in Nea Fokea.
In the following era, 27 new towns arose and the region developed in economic and cultural terms to new heights.