In Mythological Times Toroni was the wife of Proteus, son of Poseidon. There are traces of prehistoric settlements dating from the third millennium before Christ and many other relics of ancient, Early Christian and Byzantine monuments, which bear witness to the fact that the area is continuously inhabited since the Neolithic Age.
Ancient Toroni was founded by colonists from Chalkida in the 8th century BC. By the 5th century BC. Toroni was already one of the most important cities in Halkidiki. It had its own coin and was a member of the Delian League. Thucydides narrates that in 423BC Toroni was taken over by Spartan officer Brasidas. In 348BC the city was annexed to the state of Philip II of Macedon. In 168BC it was conquered by the Romans and the city fell into decline. In the Byzantine Era the area comprised of monastery dependencies, belonging to the monasteries on Holy Mt. Athos. Its mighty walls and other buildings were destroyed in the 19th century, when the Turks used the granite to pave central avenues in Constantinople and Thessaloniki. Findings from recent excavations confirmed the continuous habitation of the area since the end of the Neolithic Age up until the Ottoman Era. Architectural remains have been uncovered, however of a very fragmentary nature, since most were destroyed due to the continuous use of the space. The archaeologists placed particular emphasis on the cemetary of the settlement from the Iron Age, which is held to cover a period extending from late 2nd century until the middle of the 9th century. 134 tombs were uncovered in this cemetery, of which 118 contained ashes while 16 contained simple burials. 500 vessels also came to light, which were used either as urns or burial gifts.
Ancient Stagira, homeland of Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of antiquity, teacher of Alexander the Great, are located roughly 500 meters to the southeast from the village Olympiada, above a small, mountainous peninsula, which is called “Liotopi”. Founded by colonists from Andros around 655BC on the eastern neck of Halkidiki, they were soon reached by colonists from Chalcis. Ancient sources offer us with an accurate reference for the location of the city: they place Stagira south of Akanthos and on a coastal place and add the existence of a small isled opposite the city, called “Kapros” [the same name was also attributed to the port of the city and many of the coins of the city had a wild boar (=kapros in Greek) as a symbol]. Tradition holds it that the people of Stagira moved and buried Aristotle’s relics in their city and honor his memory with a great festival “Aristoteleia”.
After the Persian wars Stagira participated in the First Delian League contributing to the common fund a relatively small tax. However during the Peloponnesian War the city defected from the Athenians in 424BC and allied with the Spartans, surrendering to Brasidas. This enraged the Athenians who send Cleon to restore the city to the Athenian sphere of influence. However the Stagireans were successful in fending off Cleon and the city maintained its independence.
Later Stagira was incorporated to the Chalkidian League, the federation of cities in Chalkidiki with Olyntus as its capital. In the Olynthian War (349BC) Stagira were besieged by Philipp II and destroyed, but were rebuilt by him being the birthplace of Aristotle (Herodotus, 7,115. Thucydides 4,88,2. Stabo 7,331. Plutarch, Alexander 7,3). Despite the city’s reconstruction, its destruction by Philipp was the beginning of its decline.
The Cave of Petralona is located roughly 1 km from the village Petralona. It opened to the public in 1979. Internationally renowned paleo-anthropologist Dr. Aris Poulianos discovered the first signs of the Archanthropus of Petralona, the oldest remains from our European ancestors, which date some 700,000 years back. The cave had became renowned for its paleontological and paleo-anthropological findings already by 1960, after the accidental discovery in it, by resident of Petralona Ch. Sarriyianidis, of the famous human skull. The value of that finding and its uniqueness spearheaded the undertaking of extensive works in and outside the cave. In 1968 and from 1974 until 1988 the excavations were directed by Aris Poulianos. In Poulianos’ papers on the cave he talks of bone and stone tools, but the nature of the publications does illustrate a clear picture thereof. The findings are surely very significant and constitute the first testimonies of the habitation of the Greek geographical space. From an anthropologic point of view, the fossil skull is a most significant finding, but there is discord regarding its date and, even worse, its evaluation. The principal views diverge significantly and they profess that the skull belonged to someone who lived 700,000 years in the past, according to some, of 200,000 years ago, according to others.
Aristotle was born in Stageira in 384BC. His father was Nicomachus, personal physician to king Amyntas II of Macedon. His mother was Phaestis. His parents died when Aristotle was very young and Proxenos, a relative living in Atarnea, a city in Mysia, took him in his custody. When Aristotle turned 18, he left Stageira for Athens, where he studied in Plato’s Academy for 20 years, until, that is, the death of Plato in 347BC. Just prior to this Aristotle had founded a school at Assos in Troas, as a chapter of the Academy. It was then that he married Pythias from Atarneas. He stayed in Troas for three years and then crossed to the island of Lesvos, where he befriended Theophrastus, whom he later left as successor at the school of Athena. He stayed in Lesvos for two more years, namely until 343BC, when he was invited to Pella by king Philip II, to become the tutor to the king’s son, Alexander. Alexander’s education lasted for three years, until 340BC. Aristotle then retired to Stageira, where he married again, this time to Herpyllis, also from Stageira. He returned to Athens in 335BC and founded his own school, the Lyceum, later renamed to Peripatos. He directed this school for 12 years and it is in this interval that he composed all of his marvelous works. After the death of Alexander the Great, he was accused by his enemies for “irreverence” and took refuge in Halkida, where he had an estate, inheritance from his mother. It was in Halkida and at the age of 63 that he died, in 322BC. He was survived by his two children, Pythiada and Nicomachus. According to a posterior written tradition, a year after Aristotle’s death in Halkida, the people of Stageira officially moved and buried his remains in their city. It is reported that a majestic ceremony took place and a great shrine was founded at the philosopher’s tomb, while an annual festival, “Aristoteleia”, was established to honor the great man. There are present-day efforts for a revival of this great festival and the first artistic happenings took place in the summer of 1996 and were considered a great success.
The Monastery Dependency of Flogita dates back to 1311. Until 1924 it operated as a monastery dependency of the Russian monastery, later as annex of the American Red Cross which attended to the refugees of Kalamaria, while during the Nazi Occupation (1944) it was bombed by the Bulgarian conquerors. In the middle of the 1960s a major fire destroyed the building which was dilapidated. In 1999 the City Council of Moudania decided to grant the area to the 10th Ephorate for Byzantine Antiquities in order for the latter to undertake the necessary restoration works and for the building to be utilized as the Center for Byzantine Culture in Halkidiki, “Justinian”, as it was named by the team of archaeologists responsible for the works. The building will house the museum of the monastery dependency. The project is financed by the EU and national resources and its budget is 10 millions Euro.
Olynthus was an ancient city in Halkidiki, built on a fertile plain at the head of Torone’s Gulf, near the neck of the peninsula of Pallene (today Kassandra), at a distance of 60 stadia (approx. 11.5 km) from Potidaea and 4km from the sea.
The area was first settled in the Neolithic Age (5300-4500 BC) and the word “Olynthus” is pre-Hellenic and most possibly means “wild fig”. Tradition has it that it was thus named by Olynthus, one of the sons of the river deity Strymon. Herodotus mentions that the city was colonized by Boetiaeans from Imathia in the seventh century BC.
The area belonged to a Thracian tribe, the Bottiaeans, who ruled it until 479BC, when Persian General Artabazus suspected that they were plotting a revolt against the Great King. Artabazus massacred the people and delivered the city empty to the Chalcidice living nearby. As a member of the Delian League, Olynthus must have been fairly insignificant, since it is cited that its contribution was only 2 Talents, while the neighboring cities of Scione, Mende and Torone contributed 9, 8 and 6 Talents correspondingly.
In 432 it becomes the seat and head of the Chalkidian League, a synoecism encouraged and led by Perdiccas, king of Macedon, which resulted in the coming of several Chalkidaeans moving to the city from neighboring settlements. During the same year it detaches itself completely from the Delian League. It was Brasidas’ base of operations for the 424 campaign. It amasses considerable political strength during the 4th century BC, being the head of the Chalkidian League. Testimonies about this League may be traced back to the time of Nicias (421BC), where we find the members of the League embarking in joint diplomatic efforts while they were also among the members of the Argos alliance. Coins of the League have been found, which were positively dated to 405BC. It, thus, is beyond doubt that the League was established before the end of the 5th century and the motive for its establishment was self-protection against a potential attack by Athens.
After the end of the Peloponnesian War the League developed rapidly. Around 390BC we find the people of Chalkidae entering an important agreement with the King of Macedonia Amyntas III and until 382 many Greek cities west of River Strymonas joined the Chalkidian League, amongst which Pella.
It was in that year (382BC) that Sparta finally gave in to Akanthos and Apollonia’s pleas, which feared that they would be taken over of the Chalkidaeans, and embarked on a campaign against Olynthus. After a futile war that lasted for three years, the Chalkidaeans agreed to disband the League (379). This disbandment was formal, since only two years later with find the League amongst the members of the Athenian Naval League (378-7). Twenty two years later, in the reign of King Philipp in Macedonia, Demosthenes presents Olynthus more mighty than before Sparta’s campaign. The city, it is general acknowledged, was a first class one and the League numbered 32 cities in total.
In the year that finally erupted between Athens and its allies, in 357-55, Olynthus originally sided with Philipp. Later, the Chalkidaeans fearing Philipp’s increase of power, joined forces with Athens but, despite the latter’s efforts, especially by Demosthenes, the city surrendered to Philipp in 348, who destroyed it.
The classical era city was built according to the Hippodameian System of Town Planning, on an area 600X300 meters with building blocks separated by horizontal and vertical streets. Noteworthy is also the fact that the theatre of the city has not been unearthed. Houses were developed over two floors with an internal atrium. To the south was the market and to the east the homes of the wealthy. Among the villas unearthed were those of Kind Luck, the Actor as well as the Twin Eros. Mosaic floors, vessels, jewelry and clay idols were discovered in them. The first archaeological finding saw the light of day in 1928. The most recent excavations were undertaken in the 90s.
Archaeological Museum of Olynthus
The Archaeological Museum is open on the archaeological site of ancient Olynthus since 1998. The museum aims to illustrate the history of the ancient city and also describe the excavations and the restoration process, purely with multimedia.
The Monastery of Zygos (Frankish castle) is located just outside of Holy Mount Athos. It is a Byzantine monastery belonged to Mt Athos and was established in the middle of the tenth century, while it was destroyed just before 1198. All of its fortified courtyard survives, reinforced with ten towers, which surrounds an area of 5.5 stremma. The Catholicon, a building dating back to the first quarter of the 11th century, survives up to a height of 4 meters. It is a church in the cross-in-square style with two burial chapels and evident are four building phases. The 10th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities performs a systematic excavation aimed to bring to light and study the building history of the middle-Byzantine monastery of Zygos, as mentions Archaeologist Ioakeim Ath. Papaggelos.
Ancient Akanthos was a very distinguished city-port in eastern Halkidiki and one of the most important in all Macedonia. It holds a privileged spot in between two bays, that of Ierissos and on the road axis to Ouranoupoli – Holy Mt. of Athos. Akanthos, a colony of Andros according to Thucydides (IV 84.1) or of Andros and Chalkis according to Plutarch (Greek Questions 30), is developed around the middle of the 7th century BC on the place of a prehistoric settlement. The city is known from the wide circulation of its coinage in antiquity. Farming must have been the main source of wealth for the city. Historically, Akanthos, makes its first appearance during the Persian Wars, when it sided with the Persians, initially in 490 on the side of Mardonius and then, in 480BC, alongside Xerxes, whom it helped with the construction of the canal in the peninsula. It later became a member of the Delian League and helped the Athenians in the Peloponnesian War. After the Peace of Nicias in 421BC Akanthos enjoyed of a brief period of independence until the propagation of the Macedonians and was finally placed under their control in the 4th century BC. The city was looted by the Romans around 200BC (Livy, 31.45.15 ff.), however its port kept operating. In the imperial era the city became a roman region (conventus for roman citizens). Silver coinage were first minted in Akanthos around 530BC in great quantities, following the standards of Euboea. A change in coin minting in Akanthos is observed around 424BC, when Phoenician standards were adopted. The last coins of the mint of Akanthos may be dated around the middle of the 4th century BC.
Ancient Mende knew great economic prosperity due to the exports of the renowned wine of Mende and was one of the colonies established by Eretria on the peninsula of Pallni in the 8th century. The main archaeological site is 1200x600 meters and located on a flat and open place and on the slopes of a pine filled hill which smoothly descends to the sea. On its acropolis, of Vigla, which extends over the tallest southeastern point of the hill, underground tiled storage spaces were uncovered (clusters of storage-pits) which date from the 12th until the 7th century BC. On the plateau, known also as Xefoto (glade), a test section revealed part of the walls of the classical era city.
In the “Suburb”, also cited in Thucydides, which extends over the coastal area outside the walls of the ancient city, various consecutive settlement phases have been surveyed, from the 9th until the 4th century BC. In the coastal cemetery, found on the beach of Hotel Mendi, 241 burials were surveyed, principally of babies and children, inside large jars, which date from late 8th until early 6th century BC. The vessels were illustrated, with floral and geometrical decorations and/or incised and are characteristic samples of the pottery style of Halkidiki. Finally, the sanctuary of this ancient city was detected on the sandy, level cape “Poseidi”, 4km west of Mende. Amongst the excavated buildings we find the temple of Poseidon, daring from early 5th century BC and which was identified thanks to a series of inscriptions incised on vessels.
The results of the excavation research in ancient Mende until today are considered to be very significant, since they have established that a permanent settlement with intense Euboean influences had been established there already by the end of the 12th – early 11th century BC. We have yet to unravel the nature and characteristics of such an early settlement, but we have gathered important information not only on the colonization activities of Euboea, but also regarding the commercial relations which developed in the Northern Aegean Sea during the Greek Dark Ages.
One of the most significant temples located in Halkidiki is that of Zeus Ammon, which was unearthed in 1969, due to the erection of an hotel, where the foundations of this worship building suffered some damages. Excavations continued during the following years, 1970, 1971 and 1973, and established that founded in this area of the peninsula of Kassandra during the second half of the 8th century BC, by colonists from Euboea who had settled in the city of Afytis, was a sanctuary for Dionysus, who was worshiped with the Nymphs in a cave beneath the rock on the southwestern slope of the site. The worshiping in the case, reached by the devotees by means of chiseled stairs, continued in the coming centuries and lasted until the 2nd century AD.
Founded towards the end of the 5th century BC, on the level area at the northern part of the site was a sanctuary for deity Zeus Ammon, who originated from Egypt. Originally a built shrine was erected, but later on, in the second half of the 4th century BC built adjacent to it was a Peripteros (a kiosk temple) in Doric style with stone entablature. This was later, at the end of the 3rd-early 2nd century BC, replaced by another, a marble one, after the possible destruction suffered by the temple. Its roof was adorned by earthen tiles, in relief and in color. The restoration of its design has been made possible based on the architectural elements which have been located scattered around.
In the Roman Era (1st – 2nd centuries AD) the temple was retrofitted and its material was used to build two tiers at its southern narrow side, while between them, on top of the older shrine, another small shrine was constructed. The devotees must have sat in this open-air space as they heard some happenings. As testified by the findings, this roman phase of the sanctuary must have lasted until the era of the heirs of Constantine the Great, when it must have been finally and definitely demolished. Part of an early Christian bath unearthed at the northern end of the site may be possibly associated with the continuation of the worship in the early Christian era and perhaps even later, during the middle Byzantine period. The abandonment of the sanctuary was followed by the picking of its building materials by monks from the Russian monastery of Panteleimon, since the area had become a monastery dependency of said monastery.
This town is the oldest settlement in Halkidiki. In antiquity it was known by the name “Sermylia”, while in the Middle Ages it was called Ermylia. The area was first inhabited during the prehistoric era. Ancient Sermyli was located in the area now known as Platia Toumpa. Also in the area was ancient Kallipolis (today an archaeological site). Recently uncovered in the area was a coin dating from approximately 500BC. This area was a monastery dependency of the monastery of Dohiariou Monastery and one of the sights, the old wind mill, dates back to this era. The Church of St. George dates from 1818. During the Ottoman Rule, Ormylia was the landing site for an armed party of refugees from Macedonia, in 1854, designated by King Otto to start a general uprising. However this uprising was squashed by the Turks. This was also the landing site for the heads of the Cretan uprising (1866-1869), Leonidas Voulgaris and Captain Georgakis from Mademi, which also failed and was stanched by the Turks before it even begun. The Town Hall used to house the Primary School, erected in 1909 by an imperial monogram by Sultan Abdul Hamid and dated 1907.
The Castle is located in the area of Neposi and was built in the 5th century AD in a location which was inhabited since at least the 2nd century BC. The findings of the survey of the surface of the castle are the following: At the top of a fortified hill, by nature and location inexpugnable, stands a castle, “the Small Castle”, as it is known to the people from Paleochora, which is the largest in Halkidiki. The only connection between this hill and the mountain is a narrow precipitous trail. It surrounded on three sides by water, the “sink of Paleochora”, the principal bayou of River Havrias, echoing plangent at the bottom of a 30-40 meter ravine and is enclosed by an especially beautiful landscape with wild vegetation. The castle occupies an area of 15 stremma (on level) and is encircled by a wall, roughly 800-1000 meters long and 4-5 meters high. There appear to be three building stages to the wall, distinguishable by their height and telling of the times the wall was rebuild after being run over.
Ancient Potidaea was established in 600BC at the cervix of the peninsula of Palini. As follows from the name of the town, its patron was Poseidon. During Xerxes’ campaign against Greece in 480BC the town succumbed after a siege. A year later, however, it was reconstructed and held off the siege by Artabazus. In the same year it was the only city in Macedonia which participated, with other Greek cities, at the Battle of Plataea. In 349/8 BC the city succumbed to the fate of the other cities in Halkidiki and was annexed to the Kingdom of Macedonia.
After being deserted for almost 40 years, in 316BC Cassander erects in the place of Potidaea a new city named after him: Cassandreia (modern Greek Kassandreia). In the intervening interval until the conquest of Macedonia by the Romans (168BC), Cassandreia evolved into one of the mightiest cities in Macedonia. The opening of the canal is speculated to have occurred during this period, which facilitated navigation and promoted trade and economic progress. It fell to the Romans in 168BC and flourished once more.
The decline of the city is connected to the forays of the Huns who, in 540AD invaded Macedonia. Thus, despite the efforts by Justinian in the 14th century, the sources speak of its total desolation. Its castle, important for the security of the whole peninsula, was repaired by John VII Palaiologos in 1407, as well as by the Venetians later. In 1430 the city falls to the Turks. The old fortifications were repaired and reused in the Greek War of Independence in 1821, while the new opening of the canal is dated around the same period. It was in this castle that the revolutionists from Halkidiki barricaded themselves in 1821, putting up a fierce opposition before the “doom of Kassandra”, the well-known ‘holocaust’ that is remembered until today and commemorated with great solemnity annually on November 14. The wall was erected in the 7th century BC by the Corinthians, around the pre-existing city of “Pallene”, which due to its strategic location became powerful. It was the only city in Halkidiki which took part in the Battle of Plateaes and its name was recorded on the Bronze tripod dedicated by the victors to the Gods.
A picturesque village located near a beautiful sandy beach. There are indications from findings which date the emergence of habitation in the 14th Century. Tradition has it that Tristinika used to be crossed by a river which supplied sufficient water to power a water-powered workshop for processing wool garments. Tristinika is a nickname and means small well; while others hold that the village was the grounds for a battle where the invaders were three times as many as the villagers-defenders and thus, for the defenders to win they each had to kill at least three enemies (in Greek treis=three and nika=win).