Kavala

Macedonia

Kavala is a very lively port, a gateway to the islands in the North East Aegean and northern Dodecanese, and a holiday resort in its own right with some good beaches either side of the centre. It has several good museums too, illustrating the historical and cultural interest of the town and surrounding area. Immediate impressions may not be favourable, as it is big and busy, but it is well worth spending a few days to explore the main town in eastern Macedonia.

History of Kavala

Kavala has been a port since ancient times, and was founded in the 6th century BC by emigrants from the island of Paros. St Paul first set foot on European soil here before travelling to Philippi in 49AD, and it has been fought over ever since. At varying times it was occupied by the Franks, Turks, Venetians, Normans and others, including the Bulgarians during both the First and Second World Wars.

The Turkish occupation had the biggest impact, as they were here from 1371 to 1912, and among their legacies is the town’s aqueduct, which dates not from the Romans but from the 16th century. A citadel dominates the eastern end of the harbour, and its imposing walls were built mainly in the 10th and 16th centuries. It makes an impressive sight when floodlit at night, and inside the walls is the area of town known as Panagía.

In Panagia, Kavala's Old Town

Panagia

Panagia is a terrific place in which to get lost, filled as it is with meandering streets and 18-19th century houses. Among these is the birthplace of Mehmet Ali (1769-1849), who became the Pasha of Egypt. The house can be identified by the nearby bronze statue of Ali on horseback, and has been preserved as a museum.

The most notable building is known as the Imaret, and overlooks the harbour on the right-hand side of one of the main streets as you enter the citadel area. This is the largest Islamic building in Europe, and was founded by Mehmet Ali. It originally housed theological students, and provided them with cheap meals, though after standing derelict for many years it was recently refurbished as a restaurant where the meals are less cheap but the setting overlooking the harbour is superb. If you merely want to take a look round the interior, there is also a simpler bar set around the courtyard.

The View from the Old Town

Kavala Harbour

The harbour at Kavala is a busy place, with hints of the eastern bazaar in the market area just behind it. You can be sure of a good fresh fish meal in the many restaurants that line the front, although if you want somewhere more unusual and Turkish-influenced, head into the Panagia area at night.

Museums

Kavala has several museums, large and small. At the far side of the harbour is the excellent Archaeological Museum, which draws on the finds from the several classical sites nearby, including Philippi. Some of the best exhibits are from Avdira, and these include an exquisite dolphin mosaic, and a huge sarcophagus, unusual in that its paint has survived. The site of Amphipolis, west of the town, is also represented, including some fine laurel wreaths made of pure gold in the 3rd century BC, looking far too delicate to have survived for over 2000 years. There are also extensive collections of ceramics, jewellery, coins, statues and many other items.

The Folk and Modern Art Museum, also known as the Municipal Museum, is a superior example of its kind, not dealing just with the past but also finding space for displays of more modern Greek art. Amongst the best are several sculptures by an artist from the island of Thassos, Polygnotos Vagis (1894-1965). In other rooms there are the usual displays of traditional folk costumes, as well as many household and agricultural items, though the collection is very eclectic and well worth an hour or two of browsing. Note that the museum has been closed for renovation so check whether it has re-opened or not.

There are several other museums including an Olive Museum, a Tobacco Museum (tobacco is a big crop in eastern Greece), a Wax Museum and a Navy Museum.

Where to Stay in Kavala



You might like these

  • Thessaloniki

    The capital of Macedonia and Greece’s second city, Thessaloníki has a lovely situation by the water, a wealth of history, many good museums, and good food.

  • Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in Greece

    Mount Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece and is in the Mount Olympus National Park in Macedonia, with Litochoro being the best base.

  • Northern Greece Guide

    The Bradt Guide to Northern Greece is a detailed guide to Thessaloniki, Halkidiki, Macedonia, Thrace, The Pelion, The Sporades and the rest of Northern Greece.

  • The Royal Tombs and Archaeological Site of Vergina in Macedonia

    The archaeological site of Vergina in Macedonia is famous for the royal tombs which were the burial place of King Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.

  • The Prespa Lakes in Northern Greece

    The Prespa Lakes in northwest Greece is one of the most beautiful parts of Greece with abundant wildlife and also many ancient churches.

  • Scenic Drives in Northern Greece

    Scenic Drives in Northern Greece, Ioannina, Meteora, Kastoria, Prespa Lakes

  • Philippi

    Philippi is an ancient archaeological site near Kavala in East Macedonia and Thrace and is famous for being the place where the apostle St Paul was imprisoned.

  • The Site of Ancient Pella in Macedonia, Greece

    Pella in Macedonia is famous for its mosaics and was also the birthplace of both King Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great.

  • Museums of Thessaloniki

    The Greek city of Thessaloniki in Macedonia has an array of wonderful museums and art galleries, and here's twelve of the best.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Kos on its Way to Become a Greek Biking Destination

    The comparative advantages of Kos as an emerging biking destination were presented by Deputy Transport Minister Michalis Papadopoulos during an event held recently on the island by local authorities…

    Read More

  2. Covid-19: Greece Still in CDC’s ‘Very High’ Travel Risk Category

    The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning Americans to avoid travel to some 75 countries, including Greece, after adding on Monday, Germany and Denmark to its “Level Four: Very High” Covid-1…

    Read More

  3. Greek Mountain Destinations Aching for Bookings

    The second winter season in the pandemic finds hotels in Greece’s striking mountain villages in a fragile state.

    Read More

  4. What to Eat at Syntagma – Petraki Street

    Petraki Street, near Syntagma Square, has everything a foodie wants, whether you’re looking for a good wine bar, cocktail bar, bakery, pastry shop, or restaurant worth visiting again and again.

    Read More

  5. Bringing Ancient Olympia Back to Life

    A new digital revival project, "Ancient Olympia: Common Grounds," harnesses artificial intelligence to bring the ancient sanctuary back to life like never before.

    Read More

  6. Athens Tops Europe’s Meeting Destinations Ranking, Says AmEx Report

    Athens, Greece’s capital city, ranks first in the top 5 meeting destinations in Europe in the 2022 Global Meetings and Events Forecast, the 11th annual report produced by American Express Meetings & E…

    Read More

  7. Covid-19: Greece Bans the Unvaccinated from More Indoor Places

    Adults in Greece not vaccinated against the coronavirus (Covid-19) will be banned from entering more indoor spaces, including cinemas, theaters, museums and gyms as of Monday, November 22, according t…

    Read More

  8. South Aegean Islands Introduced to Luxury Wedding Planners

    The South Aegean islands were introduced to some of the world’s leading wedding planners during the 7th Destination Wedding Planners (DWP) Congress 2021, that took place on Rhodes earlier in November…

    Read More

  9. Greece Promotes Western Macedonia as Top Wine Tourism Destination

    Western Macedonia, its wineries and wines are spearheading a far-reaching tourism ministry campaign to establish Greece as a leading wine tourism destination, said Deputy Tourism Minister Sofia Zachar…

    Read More

  10. A foodie guide to Thessaloniki

    Welcome to our foodie guide to Thessaloniki, where you’ll get to know all about what and where to eat in one of the best culinary getaways in Greece.

    Read More