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HALKIDIKI

Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos are the three peninsulas that make up the prefecture of Halkidiki. Land and sea. Tranquility and eternity. Forests of beeches, chestnuts, willows, pine, plane trees. Beaches and beguiling coves. Golden sand. Picturesque villages. Potidea, Olinthos, Stagira, Aristotle's birthplace. Each town has its own history and its own ancestral glory. Mt. Athos, the Holy Mountain of Orthodoxy.

POLIGIROS

Halkidiki's charming capital (69 km from Thessalonica), built like an amphitheatre up the foothills of Mt. Holomodas (Holomon). There is an archaeological museum here containing sculptures and pottery, as well as a few neighborhoods little changed from the past century.

KASSANDRA

The westernmost of the three peninsulas, is blessed with long stretches of beach and pine forest, and dotted with pretty little villages.

PETRALONA

The cave (800 m. outside the village) is well worth a visit. It is situated at the foot of Mount Katsika at an altitude of 250 m. This is a very important cave of palaeontological interest. The overall length of the routes through it is 1900 m. of which a section of about 600 m. has been developed for tourists. There is wonderful decoration of all forms of stalactites(rod-shaped, spiraling etc.), stalagmites, columns, discs etc. The cave was first explored in 1959 and called Kokkines Petres. 34 species of fauna were discovered and classified, and in 1960 the earliest skull in Greece (about 200,000 years BC) was found by chance in the superficial layer. Its taxonomy is difficult because it presents a mosaic of advanced and archaic anatomical features, denoting genetic affinities with both Homo erectus and the Neanderdals. These finds are now housed in the Palaeontology Department of the University of Thessalonica. There is a palaentological museum next to the cave (tel. 23730/71170); tel. Community of Petralona: 23730/71134.

From Petralona, the road passes through lush valleys before arriving at Nea Modania. Nearby there are two traditional hamlets, Dionissiou and Zografou, with low stone cottages, peaked roofs and unusual chimneys. Next, after a lovely drive along beautiful beaches, you come to Nea Potidea, built upon the ruins of the ancient Corinthian colony of the same name. Beyond it, more sea, more beautiful beaches and quaint fishing villages. Nea Fokea with its Byzantine tower lapped by the waves, the tiny traditional hamlet of Afitos, Kalithea with its ruins of the sanctuary of Zeus Ammon, Kriopigi, Polihrono, Haniotis, Pefkohori, with its lush vegetation and marvelous sands. At Pallouri on the coast, travelers will find a place to rest and relax at the camping site run by the GNTO. And they will be delighted by the picturesque charm of the village. Sweet-smelling vines and flowers in pots embellish the old Macedonian balconies and courtyards. The paved road continues on after the western coast, passing through the villages of Agia Paraskevi, Agios Nikolaos, Nea Skioni and Kalandra. The fishing villages, Nea Skioni, Possidi and Siviri, not only offer a necklace of inviting beaches, but also the freshest of seafood served in abundance with good wine at their small seaside taverns in a friendly atmosphere. Then, having seen Kassandra, which boasts the best-preserved windmill in the area, you'll wind up at Sani beach, enclosed by a dense pinewood. The whole peninsula caters to tourism, whether your taste runs to one of the many capacious hotels or to the organized camping sites set amongst its woods or beside the sea.

SITHONIA

The middle finger of Halkidiki, Sithonia is rimmed with charming little ports, long, sandy beaches, thickly wooded areas and villages by the sea. Starting out from Nea Moudania, the paved road leads to Olinthos, long ago an Athenian colony of which some ruins remain. Not far off, Gerakini has a wonderful sandy beach, translucent waters and all the amenities of a contemporary tourist resort. A detour will take you to Ormilia (26 km. from Poligiros) with its characteristic local architecture and churches.The villages of Metamorfossi and Nikitas follow, their superb beaches lined with pines. From the beach at Nikitas, you can glimpse the chimneys and red roofs of the old houses protruding from the slopes of a pine-covered hill, while just 2.5 km away there is a restored Early Christian basilica erected in the 5th century. Our fleeting guide to the beauties of Sithonia continues, proceeding on to Agios Nikolaos with its old houses made of wood and stone, Pirgadikia, with an island, aspect Vourvourou and Ormos Panagias, with its enchanting coves and fishing caiques at anchor. And the parade of villages still hasn't stopped. Next come Sarti, Sikia, Porto Koufo, Neos Marmaras. Everywhere you will find natural harbors, lovely scenery, small boats, caiques and fishing nets spread out to dry.On the south side of Porto Koufo - at the site of ancient Toroni - you can still see the ruins of the old fortifications dating back to antiquity and continually augmented up until Byzantine times, as well as the ruins of Early Christian basilicas.

 

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