Kavala is a charming, chaotic mixture of old and new.
While the western part is rather modern with new apartment buildings and broad streets, the old shopping area around the church of Saint George consists of mainly neo classical, two or three floor buildings.
Then there is the old town, Panagia.
A peninsula with an island feeling
Situated on a peninsula with a Byzantine castle throning on the top, there's a distinctive island feeling about Panagia. Narrow streets, some too narrow for cars, and steps leads to the houses. It's easy to get lost - the old town is like a labyrinth.
The architecture has a strong Anatolian influence. Many of the traditional houses are built with a ground floor with narrow, iron fenced windows and a solid gate to what once was used as storage space, while living areas were upstairs, often with a so-called kiosk hanging on the upper wall, offering view up and down the street as well as the possibility of shaking hands with your neighbour across the street.
The walled yards are another typical Turkish influence, as the women then could cook and work in the garden, without being seen.
Adding an island feeling is the fact that you can actually swim from the rocks around the peninsula. Stairs and paths are leading down to the cliffs. The water is crystal clear.
A city with a history
Kavala Greece has a long history. The ancient name was Neapolis, meaning the new town, and it used to be a harbour of Philippi, the powerful inland town founded by the father of Alexander the Great, Philip the second.
The reason Macedonians, Greeks and Romans were fighting over control of this area was the gold mines of the Pangeo mountains. It was this gold that paid for Alexander the Great's world conquest.
The aqueduct cutting through town was built by Suleiman the Magnificent in the 16th century. During the 400 years of Turkish occupation Greeks were not allowed to live inside the walls of the peninsula. Two of the most stunning buildings in Panagia were built during these years: The house where viceroy Mohamed Ali Pasha of Egypt was born and the Imaret, that he built in 1817. His home is now being used as a restaurant, while Imaret has been turned into a luxury hotel.This article is meant to give only general information on Kavala Greece, so for more info on these old buildings you'd better visit them!
The modern day Kavala
The modern name Kavala actually means riding, a name the city got because when you came from Philippi over the hill of Saint Silas, looking down on the city it looked like you were riding a horse.
Kavala used to be a center for the tobacco industry. While some tobacco still is grown in this area, the old tobacco factories are now getting a new life. One has become a modern and really pretty shopping center, another is used for exhibitions and others again as restaurants or clubs.
Shopping in Kavala isn't very interesting - loads of expensive shops with cheap stuff. The exception is the local Saturday market - it is great fun.
Kavala has approximately 60 000 inhabitants. The town has a new, modern hospital, cinema, theater, an archaeological museum, a college, a public library and of course, a great selection of restaurants and bars.
The airport is approximately 40 minutes drive from the center. From the harbor of Kavala there are boat connections to Thasos, Samothrake, Limnos, Aigios Evstratios,Mytilini, Chios, Samos and Ikara.