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Where is Halkidiki – Geography Of Halkidiki
Chalkidiki, also Halkidiki, Chalcidice or Chalkidike (Greek: Χαλκιδική, [xalciðiˈci]), is a large peninsula between the Thermaikos and Strymonikos Gulfs, which ends in three smaller peninsulas, Kassandra (Phlegra or Pallene) to the west, Sithonia in the middle, between the Toroneos and the Sigitikos Gulfs, also called Athos or Aktee) to the east. The capital of Chalkidiki is the main town of Polygyros, located in the centre of the peninsula.
The morest easterly peninsula of Halkidiki is called Athos, after the peak of that name (2,033 m), which is situated on the southern tip of the peninsula. It is a mountainous peninsula, and its 336 sq. kms are divided amongst the twenty monasteries on it. The peninsula has a population of approximately 1,500 inhabitants.
History of Halkidiki
The findings in the cave of Petralona prove that man has been present in this area for over 700,000 years. The skull of a primitive man that was found here, is estimated to be more than 200,000 years old.
There have been organised settlements in Halkidiki ever since 4000 BC. Its oldest inhabitants were Thracians and Pelasgians. In the 8th century BC a large number of colonists arrived in the area, mainly from Chalkis (hence the name Chalkidike) and from Eretria. In the 5th century BC its major cities were: Poteidaia, Sane, Siggos, Akanthos, Anthemous and Stageira, the place where Aristotele was born. At the end of the 5th century,32 cities of Chalkidiki were founded, under the leadership of Olynthus, the “Chalkidean League”. In 348 BC King Philip incorporated this area in the Macedonian Kingdom.
During Hellenistic times three major cities were founded: Kassandreia (in 315), Ouranoupolis (in 315) and Antigoneia (in the centre of Kalamaria, in 280 BC). In 348 BC, Halkidiki fell into Roman hands and declined. During the Christian Era, it was often looted: by the Goths (in 269), and the Huns (6th cent.) and the Catalans (1307). After the 9th century the largest part of the peninsula became the possession of the monasteries of Athos. From the settlements of the monastic dependencies, many new villages emerged, which subsequently developed next to the existing ones. After the 12th century, the area was divided in “kapetanikia” following the administration reorganisation that was then undertaken: Kalamaria, Ermeleia, Ierissos, Kassandreia and Longos.
In 1430 it was conquered by the Turks. With the exception of Kalamaria, where the Muslim population settled, the other regions and mainly the Mademochoria organised to fight back. In May 1821 the population revolted, but the uprising was unsucceful, and as a consequence many villages were completely obliterated. In 1854 a new insurrection took place under the leadership of Tsiamis Karatasios. The freedom so desired was finally achieved in 1912.
Tourism of Halkidiki
Thanks to exceptional natural beauty, its traditional architecture and the hospitality of its population, Halkidiki has developed tremendously during the last decades. Each year, its beaches are explored by visitors, who come to enjoy the clear cool water of the sea and the shady spots in the woods.
The sea and the many clean beaches receive every year more blue flags from the European Community than any other Pefecture (42 blue flags in 1997). Moreover Halkidiki has a well developed hotel infrastructure, with accommodation ranging from small, clean traditional lodgings to large luxury hotel complexes.
Halkidiki has a micro-climate with the same number of sunny days a year as Thessaloniki & Attica, and it offers the visitor many opportunities to enjoy a favourite sport: golf, sailing, scuba diving, yachting, fishing, mountain climbing and trekking. Recently several trekking routes have been marked.
A major cultural event during the summer period is the Festival of Kassandra – Halkidiki, which involves many artistic shows.
Apart from the capital Poligiros, other important towens and villages are: Arnea, Ierissos, Agia Paraskevi, Afytos, Agios Nikolaos, Nikiti, Galatist, Gerakini, Kallithea, Kallandra, Nea Moudania, Nea Kallikratia, Nea Roda, Nea Fokaia, Ouranoupoli, Petralona, Stagira, Neos Marmaras, Vourvourou, Stratoni, Nea Potidea. There is an infrastructure for tourism with hotels and rooms to rent, offering comfortable places to spend the night. You can also have guided visits at the historic and archaeological sites. Especially noteworthy is the cave and the museum at Petralona, the archaeological site of Olynthus, the early Christian basilicas in Nikiti, and the museum in Polygyros.