Tradition & Culture
After a glorious ancient and Byzantine history, in 1430 the region was conquered again, this time by the Ottomans, incorporating Halkidiki into the administrative district of Thessaloniki. Halkidiki was divided into three areas -to fulfill certain tax-collecting demands. Kassandra, the first peninsula, Hasikohoria –as far as the bay of Toroni and Thermaic Gulf- and Mademohoria, while Mount Athos remained a separate area. The 18th century is a period of prosperity for Halkidiki, an element that explains why the coastal villages became a common target of pirate raids.
In May 1821, under the leadership of Emmanuel Pappas, Halkidiki joined the revolution against the Ottoman empire, unsuccessfully, leading to a second strike of the resistance in 1854 under the leadership of Tsiamis Karatasos.
During the early 20th century the people of Halkidiki joined the fight for the liberation of Macedonia. The long-awaited liberation arrived in October 1912. Ten years later the arrival of thousands of refugees from Asia Minor led to the formation of 27 new villages that contributed enormously to the region’s cultural and economic growth.
- Traditional Villages
- Byzantine Towers
Archaeological Museum (Polygyros)
The Museum has a fascinating collection of archaeological finds from all over Halkidiki. Exhibits include clay figurines and coins from Olynthos, vases from Toroni, parts of the roof of the temple of Zeus Ammon from Kallithea, reliquary chests, fisherman’s equipment, lamps, jewels and amphorae from Akanthos, now the town of Ierissos, and funerary steles and the statue of a woman from the 1st century BC, from the sanctuary of a deified hero, from Stratoni.
Museum of Fishing Vessels and Equipment (Nea Moudania)
The Museum is largely the result of forty years of untiring efforts by Stavros Kovrakis, a passionate collector of the treasures hidden in the seas of Greece. It also enjoys the support of the Moudania Yacht Club. The Museum has an educational and research role, also doing much to promote the local identity and keep alive its links with its history. The items on display include ancient anchors, fishing nets, fishing rods and hooks, compasses, beacons and lamps and many other intriguing exhibits. There are 3D recreations of a variety of fishing techniques, demonstrating how the different kinds of vessel and net are used, with replicas of fishing boats and a rich archive of documents and illustrations. One of the most fascinating items is the bouyiandes, a traditional fishing vessel formerly seen in the Sea of Marmara, introduced to Greece by the refugees from Asia Minor. The Museum also offers a thrilling insight into the strange and magical world beneath the sea, with its vast range of plant and animal life.
Folklore Museum (Arnea)
The Museum is housed in the building known as the Yiatradiko, one of the oldest listed buildings in Halkidiki (1750-1755). It is a two-storey structure, built in the Macedonian style with a tower and projecting balcony. The ground floor has an exhibition of agricultural artifacts, photographs from the period 1880-1950, various items used in the daily lives of the local people, as well as implements used in beekeeping, building, baking, etc. The mezzanine floor houses a collection of carpenter’s tools and items from the traditional coffee house. On the upper floor the visitor can inspect a loom and various pieces of equipment used in weaving, as well as an old fireman’s pump, local costumes, weights, a brazier, washing boards, etc. There is also a special room which recreates a traditional Arnea domestic interior.
The vernacular architecture of Halkidiki is a local version of the familiar Macedonian style. The region offers a wide range of interesting buildings, from simple one-room dwellings to fine mansions. There is also the distinctive mix of buildings with narrow, broad facades, the area’s main characteristic.
The mademohoria take their name from the Turkish word for mine, and they are the mining villages which enjoyed great prosperity during the years of Ottoman rule, exploiting the lead and silver deposits of the region. The men of those villages had extracted silver for the sultan from the deposits in Mt. Stratonikos. Many of them were fine workers in metal, as well as miners. These villages enjoyed special privileges and a certain amount of autonomy; although there was a local Turkish governor, he allowed the villagers great leeway to run their own affairs. The villages set up a sort of federation, administered by twelve vekilides or representatives of the mademohoria. The individual mining villages were as follows: Galatista, Vavdos, Kazantzi Mahalas (now Stagira), Stanos, Varvara, Liarigovi (now Arnea), Novoselo (now Neochori), Isvoros (now Stratoniki), Horouda, Revenikia (now Megali Panagia) and Ierissos.
These are the villages of Geroplatanos and Paleochora (between Agios Prodromos and Arnea), with the small nearby settlements of Sana and Riza. Due to their position on the mountainside the villages face the sun rise to their left, unlike most of the neighbouring villages – hence the name, from the Greek word zervos = left.
The picturesque seaside villages of Halkidiki initially were home to families of fishermen. Each village had its little harbour where the fishermen moored their vessels after returning from the sea. In 1922, when the great wave of refugees from Asia Minor arrived in the region, these little villages were transformed. The state granted the refugees land near the sea, not being farmed at the time, and the new inhabitants demonstrated their mettle in building up new and robust communities. Many of the villages have names beginning with Neos or Nea (new), and then the name of the town or village they left behind in Asia Minor (e.g. Nea Moudania, Nea Triglia, etc.).
Stavronikita (in Sani Resort). It is 8 m. high and must have been built at the acropolis of ancient Sani. In 1543, the towet used to protect the “metochi” of Stavronikita Mt Athos monastery.
St Paul in Fokea and St Paul’s crypt. Its height is 17 m. and it was built after 1407 with ancient blocks which probably came from Potidea. Its purpose was the protection of farmers working in the “metochi” of St Paul’s Monastery.
Mariana in Olynthos (and St Nicholas church). It was built by the monks of Dochiariou Monastery in 1375 and still exists today to a height of about 15 m.
Tower of Galatista (and two watermills). It is a Byzantine structure in the center of the village, probably built in the 14th century.
Krouna in Ierissos. It is preserved almost to its full height (15 m.). The surrounding wall is a Byzantine fortification which protected the property of Chelandrariou Monastery. It is called the “Tower of Krouna” because of the many crows which had their nests there (kourouna = crow).
Prosforion in Ouranoupolis. The biggest preserved tower in Halkidiki, was built for the Monastery Vatopediou before 1344 for the protection of the “metochi” (metochi = dependant of the monastery).