History & Culture
Greek mythology often refers to Halkidiki: the earthquake giant, called Egelados is buried in Kassandra. Athos has been reformed by the rock that Egelados threw against the Gods, and Sithonia owns its name to Sithonas, son of Poseidon. There are many myths. However, they suggest the effort that was made to interpret their foibles, way back from the ancient times.
Greek mythology often refers to Halkidiki: the earthquake giant, called Egelados is buried in Kassandra. Athos has been reformed by the rock that Egelados threw against the Gods, and Sithonia owns its name to Sithonas, son of Poseidon. There are many myths. However, they suggest the effort that was made to interpret their foibles, way back from the ancient times. The scientific research, however, has shown that the geomorphology of the paleontologic Halkidiki was rather different than today’s one. The flora and fauna was definitely different. The fossil relics of elephantoid and other species that have been found in Nikiti and have been traced in Vrasta, in Trilgia, e.t.c witness another era, which probably mankind never met. Furthermore, the findings in the Petralona Cave have shown that the human presence begins 700,000 years ago, while the scull of the first man it is dated 200,000 years old. Establishments of an organized society in Halkidiki are dated in 4,000 b.c and the oldest habitants were the Thracks and Pelasgians.
In the 8th century b.c. a great number of habitants arrives at the region, mainly originated from Halkida (thus Halkidiki) and from Eretria. In the 5th century b.c the most important cities are: Aineia, Gigonos, Lipaxos, Potidaia, Sani, Mendi, Skioni, Aigai, Neapolis, Afitis, Olinthos, Sermili, Galipsos, Toroni, Sarti, Siggos, Piloros, Dion, Kleonai, Olofixos, Akathos, Stagira, Apollonia, Arnaia, Anthemous. Many of these represent the succession of the prehistoric settlements, which existed in the same geographical position. By the end of the 5th century b.c the most important 32 cities create under the kingdom of Olynthos, the “koinon of Halkideon” which will be dissolved in 379 b.c. by the Spartans. In 348 b.c. Philippos integrates the region into the Macedonian Kingdom. In the Hellenistic years three great cities are being established: Kassandreia (315), Ouranoupolis (315) and Antigoneia (in the middle of Kalamaria in 280 b.c.). In 168 b.c. the Romans get control of the Macedonian Kingdom and its decline begins as all the cities have come under the control mainly of the Roman merchants.
After the 10th century, the biggest part of the cultivated land came to the property of Mount Athos Monks. (“Metoxia”). From these settlements many villages were established and developed along the old ones. After the 12th century within the frames of the administrative reformation the region was divided in the so-called kapetanikia. Kalamaria, Ermileia, Ierissos, Kassandreia and Loggos. In the middle of the 14th century a large part of Halkidi was under the control of the Serbian state, while Kassandra, before its enslavement to the Turks, was under the Venice domination.
Christianism was introduced in Halkidiki 50 a.c. (when Apostle Paul went from Philippous to Thessaloniki through Apollonia). During the Christian centuries Halkidiki experienced many disastrous intrusions such as the Goths (269), the Huns (6th century) and the Catalans (1307). During the 9th century the monastic state of Mount Athos establishes. In 855 King A’ the Macedonian with a golden bull designates the “the rest silent and calm live the monks” till the end of the century. During the 10th century a crowd of monastery founders gathers in Karyes. In 963 the Monastery of M. Lavra is built and later on all the other 19 Monasteries. Since then the Saint State represents a unique world. It is a place of mystery, of hard exercise and mental orientation, which managed to preserve all the valuable treasure, to cultivate the Greek Christian education and to help the national conscience to in the difficult moments the nation was facing.
In 1430 Halkidiki was enslaved to the Turks and became part of the county of Thessaloniki. It was divided in three financial prefectures. Kassandra, which was limited to the natural boundaries of the Peninsula, Hasikohoria, which included “all the cultivated land and the all the mountains that lied to the Toronaio and Thermaiko Gulf” and finally the Mandemohoria. The Mount Athos was an independent region. Despite the special privileges of every prefecture, during that time the habitants of Halkidiki suffered a great deal as all the Greeks did because of the oppressive Turkish domination. However, they did not lose either their faith or their national conscience.
By the end of the 18th century all the prefectures begin to develop. (increase of the wheat production, silk growing, cattle breeding). This prosperity, however, attracted the presence of pirates in the seaside villages. In 1775 in Mandemohoria the Gate entrusts the exploitation of the silver mines in the 12 big villages of the region-in the “Koino of Mademia” – and thus a new expanded silver mine association is being created with his own communal administration. In May 1821 under the leadership of Emmanouil Papa, unsuccessfully rises against the Turks and get completely destroyed. However it strengthens again and in 1854 it will be shaken by a new revolution under Tsiamis Karatasos. The revolutionary climate comes in Halkdiki in 1878, however the Turks had already taken their measures and the movement is put off. In the beginning of the century Halkidiki takes part in the Macedonian Battle. Many habitants of Halkidiki participated as Macedon fighters and they also created their corps to fight against the guerilla. The desired freedom will come eventually in October 1912. In 1922 after the establishment of thousands of refugees by the M. Asia a new phase begins in the history of Halkidiki. 27 new villages are now established and their contribution to the economical and cultural evolution of Halkdiki is of great importance.