"Kavala" Kavala by StefanosS

Kavala Travel Guide: 82 reviews and 255 photos

The area was inhabited since the prehistoric age; to the east of the city, by the sea, a prehistoric settlement has been discovered. The ancient Neapolis (="New City") was built by Thassians between 650-625 BC. Ruins of that period have been found on the rocky hill of Panaghia peninsula, the oldest neighbourhood of the contemporary city. Being well grown and important, placed near the gold-mines of Pangaeon mountain and on the road joining Europe with Asia, Neapolis stayed by the side of Athenian Alliance till 340 BC, when was joined to the Macedonian kingdom of Filippos II. Then the new city of Filippi, built by Philippos II, started becaming more and more important. Both Filippi and Neapolis were on the famous Roman via Egnatia, joining the Adriatic Sea with Asia Minor. In 42 BC the fleet of Cassio and Brouto anchored at Neapolis port and the well-known battle of Filippi took place against Marco Antonio, Octaviano and Lepido. In 49 AD Apostle Paul disembarked there to go to Filippi, starting his mission in Greece.

Little info is available about early Byzantine period, when its name was changed to Christoupolis (="City of Christ"). It was fortified by emperor Justinian (527-565). In 1097 the Crusaders of the First Crusade passed from there. In 1185 the Normans attacked and destroyed it. In 1204 the Crusaders occupied Christoupolis as they demolished the Byzantine Empire. When the Byzantine Empire was re-established in 1261, Christoupolis became again an important Byzantine city and port, till 1391 when it was completely destroyed by the Turks, and stayed deserted till 1530.

New population started settling there, while the name Kavala is mentioned for the first time in a Turkish document of 1470, probably coming from "Skavala", the name of another city whose inhabitants moved there. It was quickly rebuilt by the Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, who constructed new wider walls, the aqueduct (today named "Kamares") and other public buildings. Travellers of the 17th and 18th century talk about the economic development and the great commercial activity of the port of Kavala.

Kavala was the birthplace of Mohamed Ali (1769-1849), the founder of the last Egyptian dynasty, who took special care of the city. Among others, in 1812 he built the "Imaret" that at first was functioning as muslim seminary and later as charitable institution. He bought the entire Thassos island and was paying himself all the taxes of Thassos and Kavala to the Sultan. In 1816 he repaired the aqueduct. His mansion, reserved in perfect condition, is on the Panaghia peninsula.

Since the last half of the 19th century, almost the entirety of the economic activity passed in Greek hands, and a special permission was given to built a new settlement outside the walls, "Aghios Ioannis", with beautiful mansions, churches, warehouses and tobacco factories. Foreign companies and consulates were also established, proving the importance of the city.

Kavala was liberated by the Greek Navy in 1913. After the Disaster of Asia Minor in 1922, the population of Kavala was doubled by the Greek refugees. Today Kavala is a beautiful vibrant city with important both economic and cultural activity.

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  • Last visit to Kavala: May 2003
  • Intro Updated Sep 29, 2003
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