Historical Sites and Museums - Chalkidiki
AGIASMA APOSTOLOU PAVLOU
On the eastern side of Nea Fokea lies Agiasma Apostolou Pavlou. It is an underground corridor of about 20 km in length, which has been carved on the natural rock and ends in a rectangular underground chamber. It is probably an ancient burial construction that, during the Byzantine period, was rearranged into a church. The chamber's walls had been painted during some period of time, but a large part of these paintings was destroyed by humidity. Tradition says that the Apostle Paul was teaching at Ierissos at the time when haunted, and with his life in danger, he went into a hole of the earth. Then, passing through an underground corridor, he arrived at Kassandra and came out at the chamber of the "agiasma".
Ancient Toroni was one of the most significant towns of Chalkidiki. After the Persian wars, it joined the Athenian League and was captured by the Spartans and the Athenians respectively during the Peloponnesian War. Many ruins of the ancient city were preserved up to the late 19th century, but they were destroyed so that their granite building material could be used for road surfacing in Thessaloniki and Constantinople. Today, only remains of ancient Toroni, south of the village, are still preserved. Traces of the big round tower in Anemomomylos as well as parts of the acropolis fortification walls on Vigla summit, also stand there.
ANCIENT SETTLEMENTS OF NIKITI
In the area of Nikiti, sites of big and small prehistoric settlements have been found. The most important of them was that of Galipsus where, in the 8th and 7th centuries BC, Chalkideans joined the local population. The founding of the present settlement began in the early 14th century. In 1300, when the area was dependent on Mount Athos, the independent village of Psallida, which is believed to have been destroyed in 1308 by the Catalans, lay there. Today, only its ruined tower still stands.
ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF POLYGYROS
The Archaeological Museum of Polygyros that is situated on Heroon square, in Polygyros, contains exhibits from all over Chalkidiki, although the most important findings are on display in Thessaloniki. Among the exhibits, there are findings from the city and the cemetery of Olinthos, as well as from the cemeteries of Ierissos, Toroni, Kastri and from other cities of Chalkidiki. Some of the most important works one can admire in the museum are: The semi-finished Kouros, found at ancient Stagira. The "klazomeniaki" chest of Akanthos, decorated with painted images. The Stratoniou statues, excavated in Stratoni in 1960. One of them is a female, the "Despoina of Stratonio" (Lady of Stratoni), and the other one a male. There are also various vessels from Pirgadikia, typical examples of the production of an unknown pottery workshop from the 4th century BC, and many other exhibits.
CATHEDRAL AT KASSANDRIA
The Cathedral, or now the Parish Church of Kassandria, is the most significant sight in town. The church, which was constructed in 1850, is dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin (Gennissi tis Theoto-kou). The western entrance of the Church is decorated with a sculpted arch above the door dating back to the Late Christian period, which has reliefs and is considered to have come from the first screen of the Church of Agios Dimitrios in Thessaloniki. Another similar arch, coming from the same Church, lies in the Byzantine Museum in Athens. Nobody knows how the sculpture came to Kassandria, but tradition says that it was brought from the ruins of the nearby village of Pinakas after its destruction, in 1821.
CAVE OF PETRALONA OR KOKKINES PETRES
The Cave of Petralona stands on the village of the same name at the foot of mount Katsika. It was studied in 1960 by research groups from the University of Thessaloniki. Research has shown that it was first inhabited 700,000 years ago. A very significant find is a female skull from 600,000 BC. The woman was about 25, which is, old for that period. It formed a new type of palaeanthrope, the Archanthrope, a transitional type between Homo Erectus and Homo Sapiens. Other findings include bones of hyenas, lions, deer and other animals. Of particular interest are also the stalagmites and stalactites of coral-like formations which are among exquisite multicoloured pillars. Today, the cave is electrically lit and its chambers are decorated the way they were during the age of Archanthrope. Next to it, is a museum in which one can see findings of the cave and in whose entrance theatrical performances are held in summer.
FOLKLORE MUSEUM OF AFITOS
The Folklore Museum of Afitos is housed in an old building, on the square of the beautiful village, which was recently renovated in order to become a starting place for those visiting the traditional settlement. The museum includes exhibits of traditional folk art, vessels, ceramics, embroidery, woven fabrics, and tools used by the people of the area in their everyday life.
METOCHIOU FORTRESS OF ZOGRAFOU MONASTERY
7 KM before Nea Moudania, lies Zografou village which is inhabited by refugees. The village was built around the establishments of "metochi" (property belonging to a religious institution) of Zografou Monastery at Agion Oros, and was named after it. Today, what has been saved from "metochi" is the Byzantine fortress which is a construction of the 14th century, as well as the church, founded in 1842, and other subsidiary buildings from the 19th century. The monumental fountain of "metochi", built in 1853, is of great interest and lies only 50 km on the western side of the fortress.
The Archaeological Museum of Olynthos
PROSFORIOU TOWER AT OURANOUPOLI
The Prosforiou Tower is placed among the most significant sights of Ouranoupoli. It is the biggest tower in Chalkidiki and the best preserved of its kind. Its construction is estimated to have been before 1344, and it is considered one of the best examples of monastery architecture. The purpose of its construction was for the protection of "metochi", of Vatopedi Monastery, and till the middle of the previous century, it had been preserved intact. Its upper floor was destroyed in 1850 and then the roof was constructed, as it appears today, under which there is a chapel dedicated to St Constantinos and St Eleni.
MONASTERY OF AGIA ANASTASIA FARMAKOLYTRIA
The monastery of Agia Anastasia Farmakolytria (St Anastasia the Curer) stands near Vassilika of Thessaloniki, at the foot of Adrianos, one of Mount Hortiatis's summits. It is said to have been founded by Leon the 6th in the 19th century, but this has not been cross-checked. In all probability, it was built in 1522 by St Theonas, who later became metropolitan bishop of Thessaloniki. During the Turkish domination, the monastery owned many acres of land but it was destroyed by the Turks during the Greek War of Independence of 1821 and was rebuilt from scratch in 1830. Today, it belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and honours St Anastasia on the 22nd of December.