HISTORY OF CHALKIDIKI
Halkidiki has a long history, ancient cities and one of the most important caves in the world, the Petralona Cave. And of course Mount Athos! The largest monastic state with a history of over 1200 years!
Greek mythology often mentions Chalkidiki, since the giant of the earthquake, the Engelados, is buried in Kassandra. Athos was formed by the rock that the homonymous giant threw against the gods and Sithonia owes its name to Sithon, the son of Poseidon.
The most ancient form of life in Europe was found in the Petralona Cave. That is the type of Neanderthal man, who lived about 70,000 years ago. Until then, there was the theory that this type of man existed only in Western and Central Europe. However, Petralona’s findings show that the Neanderthal man also existed in Eastern Europe. There is also plenty of evidence that Homo Ereclus lived in the same cave 500,000-600,000 years ago.
Settlements of organised society exist in Halkidiki since 4000 BC. The first inhabitants of Halkidiki, in the 13th c. B.C. are the Pelasgians and the Thracians. The first Greeks come from Halkida and Eretria on the island of Evia. The peninsula of Halkidiki was also named after from the colonists of Halkida. In antiquity there were many great cities in Halkidiki such as Olynthos, Potidea, Mendi, Skioni, Afitos, Toroni, Stagira etc. During the Persian wars, the Persian king Xerxes constructed a canal on the peninsula of Athos which was completed in 480 BC. and it was one of the greatest ancient structures. At the end of the 5th century BC, the 32 most important cities, under the leadership of Olynthos, founded the “Halkidian community”, which will be dispersed in 379 BC. by the Spartans. In 348 BC Philip integrates the region in the Macedonian Kingdom. In 168 BC., the area passes into the hands of the Romans and declines, as its cities came mainly under the control of Roman merchants.
Halkidiki must have embraced Christianity during 50 AD. During the 9th century the monastic state of Mount Athos is organized. In 963 the Monastery of Lavra was built and then the remaining 19 Monasteries were also. Since then the Holy City forms a peculiar world. After the 10th century most of the cultivated land passed into the hands of the Mount Athos (“Metohia”). In the middle of the 14th century a large part of Halkidiki was appended to the Serbian state, while Cassandra and other coastal areas were found under the Venetians.
In 1430 Halkidiki was subjugated to the Turks and was a part of Thessaloniki. In Halkidiki, Muslims settled in the north-eastern and north-western regions, near Thessaloniki. In 1821, Halkidiki rallied along with southern Greece, however, the better organisation and equipment of the Ottomans prevailed and the revolution was abolished while many villages were burned in reprisals. Even important battles were fought between Greek Macedonian Revolutionaries and the Ottoman Army, such as the Battle of Redtina and the Battle of the Sovereigns. Freedom will eventually come in October 1912.
Following the Asia-Minor Disaster of 1922 and the forced population exchange in 1923-1924, many families of Greek refugees from Asia Minor, Eastern Thrace and Eastern Romilia settled in Halkidiki, creating 27 new settlements. The “Minorites” settled mainly on the coasts and the metropolises of Mount Athos. Many of the settlements were given names in remembrance of the unforgettable homelands where the refugees came from. Their contribution to the economic and cultural development of Halkidiki was crucial.