leaving the Troad we came with a straight course for
Samothrace and on the next day to Neapolis and from
thence to Philippi."
The Acts of the Apostles 16
into the history of Kavala is that of the fate suffered
by all large cities in history: always the focal point of
progress, prosperity and culture but likewise invasion
and destruction. The town of Kavala first appears in the
7th century BC under the name of "Neapolis" and
was a settlement of the inhabitants of the island of
Thassos. Later it allied itself to the great Athenian
Democracy of Pericles. During the rule of the
Macedonians, King Philippos (father of Alexander the
Great) took it away from the Athenians and turned it into
a seaport for Philippi whereupon it grew to a
considerable extent. As an important port and trading
center it attracted the interest of the Romans and
it suffered certain damage during raids by Goths and
This is the place in Europe where Christianity first manifested itself. St. Paul the Apostle disembarked for the first time at the port of Neapolis which years later during the Byzantine Empire took the name of Christoupolis. During this period the castle was constructed, a large part of which still stands today. The Normans destroyed the town, the Turks enslaved it but Kavala, as it has since been named, remained "incurably" Greek and Christian. At the beginning of the Twentieth century , having gained its freedom , Kavala developed into a modern town.
The Archaeological Museum is the best place to begin probing into the history of this Greek town. Housed in a large modern building facing the sea, its exhibits are of extreme importance and will carry you back thousands of years. There are finds from the Neolithic period, the Bronze Age and from early and classical Ancient Greece. Exhibited also are finds from Neapolis, relics of the Temple of the Goddess Athena, ancient and classical statuettes and pottery decorated with black figures. Of interest are also the finds from Ancient Amfipolis and the wider area of Thrace, in particular from the necropolises of Oesimis, Galipsou and Abdera.
Make an early start in the morning equipped with cameras and ready to let your imagination run free for the ancient city of Philippi, at only 15 km from Kavala, will bring history alive. The name is derived from King Philip 11, father of Alexander the Great. It was a large and important center as a result of the fertile land and the gold mines. It w peak of its power during the 4th and 3rd centuries as well as during the Roman period. It was here that the victory of the senators who murdered Julius Caesar and his heirs took place. During the Roman period Philippi gains particular importance in trade due to the Egnatia Road which links Dyrrachium with Byzantium. In 40 AD St Paul the Apostle found at Philippi the first church in Europe and it is here that he christens the first European Christian: Lydia and her family in the Zygaktis river. Today the little village next to Philippi is named Lydia and visitors can make this a second stop on their journey to Philippi.
Three different worlds meet at Philippi: the Ancient Greek world, the Roman world and the Byzantine Christian world. Here visitors can find the large ancient theatre where the great poets had their works performed, the walls, the Roman Forum, the ancient arena and the agora, the center of life in the town. The Roman cistern on the site is where St. Paul is believed to have been imprisoned. The two early Christian basilicas are the most important Byzantine monuments today. In the Archaelogical Museum of Philippi there are exhibits dating back to 5000 BC, finds from the prehistoric settlement of Dhikili-Tash as well as ancient Greek, Roman and early Christian antiquities, indeed a huge historical treasure trove.
The imposing Byzantine Monastery on Pangeon Mountain with its 150 cells and large yards religious and national center in Macedonia. It houses numerous rare icons and donations. From here the monks toured throughout Macedonia preserving Hellenism and Christianity during difficult times.
ABDERA (Avdira) - PORTO LAGOS - XANTHI AREA
Ancient Abdera was the city of the great philosophers! The birthplace of the philosopher Democritus who developed the atomist theory of matter, of his teacher Leucippus, of the sophist Protagoras and the great historian Hecatius to mention just a few. From Abdera it is well worth making a visit to Porto Lagos, called the "Port of the Lake". The scenery is cinematic and the wildlife is of great ecological interest. Further to the north is picturesque Xanthi and the beautiful natural landscape of its mountains; one village up in the mountains not to miss is Stavroupolis, it will prove to be a worthwhile reward for your trip.