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A visit to to Kavala


Home -> Europe -> Greece -> Travelogue Greece -> 06 June 2016

Monday 06 June, a visit to to Kavala

The countryside of Thrace The countryside of ThraceDark clouds float in the sky when we are enthusiastically waved goodbye at the hotel, Elisabeth even gets hand kisses blown to her.
The weather forecast is not so good, so we go to the area of Xanthi where several museums can be visited. But hopefully it is also sometimes dry enough to visit an archeological dig. We are less than fifteen minutes on the road when it starts to pour down and on the highway we usually can not go faster than 80 km per hour. When it gets a bit better we leave the highway and drive on roads through the slopes of the Rodopi Mountains, a road which meanders through many small villages.
Mosque in Linos, Thrace Woman in Linos, ThraceUntil Xanthi we see that almost every village, except for a church, also has a mosque or at least a minaret. It is clear that this area once belonged to the Ottoman Empire. After the so-called Asia Minor Catastrophe (1922) in which Greece tried in vain to conquer areas in Turkey, a large-scale exchange took place in which hundreds of thousands of Turks had to leave from Greece and Greeks from Turkey. Residents of this area, who belonged to the Ottoman Empire for more than 5 centuries, did not fall under the deal and nearly 90,000 Turkish residents remained. They still form a minority within Greece.
Workers on land, ThraceWith the peace of Lausanne in 1923, the war between Turkey and Greece was ended, but due to the forced migration of the people there was actually an ethnic cleansing going on on both sides. Families who owned a piece of land for centuries and lived there, suddenly had to return to their 'own' country, which was totally strange to them. In this area we mainly see agriculture which will be hard work on the rocky surface. We often see groups of people working the land by hand and only very few machines.
Kalamous monastery at Xanthi Kalamous monastery at XanthiAs we approach Xanthi, we pass the monastery of St. Mary Kalamous. The monastery itself is not much different from so many others but is very beautiful located between the woods on a mountain slope. But we have only just started our walk when the thunder and rain start again, the water pours from the air and we quickly flee into the car and drive to the center of Xanthi, a city which became rich in Ottoman times with the cultivation of and trade in tobacco. Now it is mainly known for its carnival party in the spring which must be a fantastic happening.
Hiding from the rain in XanthiThrough the rain we run to one of the many restaurants that are almost all full of people who also hide and make a virtue of necessity. We too take a long break and have something to eat it. Only very occasionally you see someone who ventures outside with an umbrella. Xanthi must have a beautiful old town with special architecture but we have to look at it another time, we are not going to walk in this rain. It seems to be a mixture of Byzantine, Greek and Turkish styles.
After an hour we get in the car and drive to nearby Avdira to visit the archaeological museum.
First we are dealing with the brown sign syndrome: there are signs but they do not bring you where you want to be. Eventually we find the museum and it is certainly worth a visit. It is only small but nicely decorated and lots of information about the excavations at Avdira and very nice finds.
Avdira was originally a Phoenician colony, later a rich and important Greek policy. The excavation itself was closed when we were there.
View of Kavala Aqueduct in KavalaThen we want to visit the museum in Kavala but in that city it is so busy that we do not find a parking space anywhere. We drive through the city that was built on hills on the sea side of Mount Simvolo. It is a lively city, even in the rain and every now and then we stop to take a picture. In the meantime it has become dry again and the sun occasionally shows itself. The highest hill is dominated by a fortress where an impressive Roman aqueduct passes. We drive past the archaeological museum again but find out that it is closed on Monday; we could have known that, most museums are in Greece.
Excavation in the Halil Bey mosque, Kavala Madressa at the Hlil Bey mosque, KavalaNearby is the hill where the fort is built on and we walk a bit in that direction but it is all climbing. This was undoubtedly the old town because the alleyways are narrow and covered with cobblestones. Next to the Halil Bey mosque you can see an excavation where older traces of a Byzantine basilica have been found and there is a madressa, an Islamic school. We walk a bit further up in the direction of the fort but I can not manage it with my muscle pain, so we have to go back.
Dilapidated house in Kavala The fortress of KavalaWe go down again and walk through the harbor for a while where we can see the walls of the fort better than from the maze of streets just below the fort itself. Kavala is quite a big city and has an important port. From here ferries go to various islands, including a large mountainous island that we have seen on the coast for some time when driving here. It turns out to be Thassos. We had never heard of it but when we read something about it on a terrace, it sounds interesting.
It is after five, so we decide to go to our new apartment that is only about 15 kilometers away from here. Again we have to make some effort to find it and the navigation can not handle some of the closed roads today. Eventually we arrive at the wrong side of a mountain slope and Teije tries to ask for directions when we see some people on the street. And again no one speaks a word of English but with the booking on the phone, they seem to know where we have to go and we get directions. Let's hope that we have understood correctly what they were saying. But after a bit of driving back and forth we are indeed on the other side of the mountain, a few kilometers away and we recognize the house from the photo on the internet.
We are welcomed in German, during the evening even by the whole family, everybody comes by. It takes some getting used to, we prefer to speak English ourselves, but these people are very proud that they speak German as well.
We will stay here for 3 nights and there are plenty of things we want to see here. This is the area where Alexander the Great came from and started his empire. Now only the weather has to cooperate, because if it rains almost the whole day like today, we will not be able to see much.

 


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