Some of those who drove to spend their holidays in Thassos arrived on the island after taking the ferry from a town they probably didn’t pay much attention to, out of a desire to reach the final destination as soon as possible: Kavala.
Kavala is a small town in northern Greece, built as an amphitheater on the slopes of Mount Symvolo, which makes it one of the most picturesque Greek towns. Rich in historic buildings and surrounded by places worth visiting, Kavala can be the very place to spend a holiday in Greece.
Of course, it’s not the kind of place to stay at a beach hotel and wake up looking directly at the sea, but Kavala has a long seafront, a small, charming harbor, restaurants and taverns with delicious food, beaches in the town or just a few minutes away by car. For those who want to consider spending a holiday in Kavala, here is what we recommend them to do and see in this small secret paradise:
Documentary sources say that the settlement of Kavala was fortified as early as the 5th century B.C., and its imposing castle was rebuilt several times throughout history, especially by the Byzantines, before being destroyed by the Ottoman Empire, which took control of the site in 1391. The current structure comes mainly from the Ottoman reconstruction, which took place in 1425.
A superb example of Ottoman architecture, Imaret was built in 1817 by Mohamed Ali Pasha, with the idea of serving as an educational center. It functioned as a religious school until 1902 and as a charitable foundation until 1923. After the population exchange between Greece and Turkey in the 1970s, it was inhabited by Greek refugees from Anatolia. It was later renovated, and now it functions as a luxury hotel, from where you have sensational landscapes over the sea and the city.
Erected in 1550 by Suleiman the Magnificent, the imposing structure that once provided water, dominates the city center, with a length of over 280 m, including 60 arches but also some old houses built within the monument.
Philippi archeological site
The ancient town of Philippi was colonized by the inhabitants of the island of Thassos, who founded the town of Krinides in 350 B.C. But in 356 B.C., King Philip II of Macedonia renamed the town after his own name, after saving it from the attacks of a Thracian invasion. Here, in 49 A.D., the apostle Paul gave the first sermons on Christianity and also Lydia, the first Christian woman in Europe, was baptized.
The old town (Panagia)
The most important tourist attractions in Panagia, the old quarter of Kavala, are the Castle, the Acropolis, Imaret and the old lighthouse, located at the end of Theodorou Pavlidou Street. The central point of the neighborhood is Mohamed Ali Square, dominated by the statue of this ancient Ottoman ruler, located between the konaki (his house, built in the late 18th century) and the Panagia church, built in 1965, on the ruins of an old post-Byzantine basilica.
A walk down Mohamed Ali Street will take you to the oldest part of the town, where you can visit Hussein Bey Mosque.
The new town
Kavala has a unique character, reflected in its recent past: neoclassical houses and large tobacco warehouses, reminiscent of the years when the thriving bourgeois class held the supremacy of the town which had been nicknamed the “Tobacco Mecca” and where thousands of workers from this industry, men and women lived in (a good life). Their figures have remained in the collective memory and can be found in black and white photographs on the walls of the Tobacco Museum.
The most popular meeting point in the modern town is Eleftherias Square, where the Megalou Alexandrou pedestrian street starts, along which there are beautiful shops, cafes, bars and an old tobacco depot turned into a shopping center.
Near the Eleftherias square is the picturesque Agios Nicolaos district, where, obviously, we also find the church with the same name, a former mosque. On the ruins of an ancient pillar you can see, according to the legend, the imprint of Apostle Paul’s footsteps, left when he first visited Macedonia.
Of course, the beaches make Kavala a desirable tourist destination. In Kavala, or near it – at distances of up to 80 km, there are many clean beaches with clear, blue waters.
The most famous beach in Kavala is Rapsani, which is also the closest to the town center. Also, you can find the beaches of Kalamitsi, Batis, Palio, Tosca and, a little further, Nea Iraklitsa, Nea Peramos, Paralia Ofriniou, as well as one of the most beautiful beaches in northern Greece – Ammolofi.
Krinides mud baths
Among the many therapeutic hot springs that one can find throughout Greece, the Krinides mud baths stand out as being truly special, a therapeutic venture here being an unforgettable experience.
The Krinides mud baths are less than half an hour away from Kavala, very close to the ancient Philippi archeological site, so a day trip can combine both locations. At Krinides you have two types of natural therapies: there is a therapeutic mud pool (excellent for treating rheumatic, gynecological problems, nervous system diseases, cardiovascular diseases and dermatological problems) and a natural hot springs pool (for treating rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatism, lumbar problems, osteoarthritis, multiple sclerosis etc.).
The Krinides mud baths are located in a beautiful park, and the surrounding buildings have a traditional stone architecture. The complex hosts a restaurant and a café, a hall with post-Byzantine bathrooms, massage rooms and a small church.