The Prefecture covers an area of approx. 2,100 sq. km. Along with a rich history the prefecture offers a wide range of activities for the visitor from mountain climbing to lazing on one of the many fine beaches. The region first settled in the Neolithic has throughout the centuries grown in prosperity and importance, due to the proximity of the gold mines on Mt. Pangeo and the trading in agricultural products mainly tobacco.
The capital and port of the prefecture, is a picturesque town around the foothills of Mt. Symvolon. The medieval fortress dominates the town built around the harbour. The old quarters of Panagia to the south of the harbour, with its quaint narrow cobbled lanes, is a delight in which to wander. The most obvious building in the old quarter is the Imaret, with its 18 domes was in ancient times a hostel for students studying theology. Today it is a cafe and restaurant. Modern houses and shops in spacious squares combine both the old and the new in harmony. Kavala stands on the site of the 5 th century town of Neopolis, which was the port of Phillipi. Mehmet Ali (1769-1849) who became Pasha of Egypt was born in Kavala, his house were he was born has been restored and is now a museum.
The first settlers of Kavala lived in the area that is now the site of the fortress. Archaeologists have found evidence of small Neolithic settlement on the eastern side of the hill. In the mid 7th century BC, the region was colonised by traders from the island of Thasos they named the area Neapolis. The city prospered due to the mining and trading in gold and became economically independent.
The city lost its independence, in the 4 th century BC and became the port of the neighbouring Macedonian city of Philippi. During the Roman occupation of Greece, the city once again the city grew in prosperity as a commercial city along the Via Egnatia.
During the Byzantine period during the 8th-9th centuries AD, the city now called Chrysoupolis, after St. Paul’s visit to the city in 49-50 AD. Remains of the Byzantine fortifications are on the hill, as well as the imposing fortress. The city has been under siege from numerous invaders, and in 1391, the Ottomans took control over the city and region. Under the orders of Suleiman the Great, they renamed the city to its present name and rebuilt the fortress, along with an impressive aqueduct with sixty arches, which has survived to the present day.
The founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, Mehmet Ali was born in the city in 1769. Mehmet Ali became a patron to the city, building among others a poorhouse (Imaret) in 1817, which also functioned as a religious school. His house is now a museum, close to a church bearing his name.
In the 1900s, the city was enjoying great economic prosperity due to the growing and processing of tobacco. Foreign tobacco merchants settled in the city, building homes and warehouses, many of which survive today, many now converted into museums or public offices.
Sights of Interest in the City
The Kavala Archaeological Museum : offers the visitor a fascinating selection of artefacts from the prefecture of Kavala and the region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Artefacts from the settlement of Orthopetra at Krinides and ancient city of Philippi are on display. Also impressive is the restoration of architectural fragments from the temple of the goddess Parthena.
The Kavala Municipal Museum: have on display a collection of paintings and other works of art by the sculptor Polygnotos Vagis, who came from the island of Thassos. The museum also has a selection of folk art and a collection of rare birds from the area around the River Nestos.
The Byzantine Fortress: and the walls built on the hill overlooking the city.
The Kamares Aqueduct: built by the Ottomans to supply the city with fresh water.
The House of Mehmet Ali: born in the city and thelast pasha of Egypt, today the house is a museum.
Profitis Ilias: offers wonderful views over the city and the old town.
Towns & Villages
On and around Mt. Pangaion, a number of villages and monasteries among them are the monasteries of Panayia Eikosifoinissa, Agios Panteleimon at Chrysokastro and Agios Dimitrios at Nikisiani as well as the Byzantine fortifications at Palaiohori.
On the coast road to Thessaloniki, that runs parallel to the sea you drive through some wonderful scenery and along the way you can stop and admire the impressive Byzantine fortifications at Anaktoroupolis, near Nea Peramos. The Tower of Apollonia, between Nea Peramos and the Eleftheres spa, and the Orfanio Castle near the village of the same name.
Loutra Elefteron: this seaside resort to the west of Kavala is renowned for its hot springs and hydrotherapy.
Paradeisos: is a charming village, with its cool running waters is an ideal spot to relax in the shade of the lofty trees,
Akontisma: southeast of Kavala, is a traditional community attend where the ‘Ilios kai Petra’ (‘The Sun and Stone’) International Festival of Traditional Dances takes place, with concerts, theatrical performances and dances.
Keramoti: from this beautiful harbour, the port of Limenas on the island of Thassos is less than half-an-hour away
The Delta of Nestos: is ideal for nature lovers with a large diversity of birds and wild plants
Place of interest
The Roman Via Egnatia: past the Agios Silas Monastery, is part of the Roman Via Egnatia.
The Ancient City of Philippi: this is the most interesting archaeological site in the prefecture. The Thasians once called the city Krenides. In 356 BC Philip II, King of Macedonia, took control of the city so he could gain control of the gold mined in the foothills of Mt. Pangaion. The site has the ruins of two Basilicas, one that collapsed after earthquake and the other collapsed due to bad design. The theatre is perhaps the best preserved of the ruins, though it has been restored, during the summer months ancient plays and comedies are performed here.
The other remains that still show their function today are fifty marble toilets near the Roman Forum. The Roman crypt where it is said St. Paul was incarcerated for teaching the gospel to the Lydians, the first people in Europe to accept Christianity. On the river bank nearby where his teachings took place is the Church of the Lydians. The city dell into decline after its capture by Frankish troops in the 13th century.
The Philippi Archaeological Museum is located at the foot of the hill where the ruins of the ancient acropolis still stand. Here the visitor can see unique finds from the prehistoric, ancient, Roman and Byzantine periods.
The Ancient City of Amphipolis: was the most important Athenian city in the north of Greece. The remains still visible are the “Lion of Amphipolis”, from the 4 th century BC a burial monument on the other side of the river Strymon. On the site itself are the remains of an acropolis, Christian basilicas with mosaic floors and several tombs.
Some of the best beaches in the region are at Batis, Toska, Palio and Orphynio. More good beaches are at Nea Irakleitsa, Nea Peramos and Raspani.
Mountain climbing: the region offers opportunities for excellent climbing on Mt. Pageon, and other mountains in the region.
The Eleftheria Festival takes place in June.
The Phillipi Drama Festival takes place in July and August.
Flights: the airport is 26km from the capital with regular flights to and from Athens, and charter flights arrive here from a number of European cities.
Ferries: Kavala has ferries connections to Pireaus, and many of the islands in the Aegean Sea.
Bus: regular services connect the city to Athens and major cities in the region.
Rail: the nearest railway stations are at Drama 36km away and Xanthi 56km from the city.