I have been to Kavala a few times before. But every time I was passing by without considering it enough interesting to stay for a while and visit its centre. As some of you probably read in the past, I am not a big fan of Greece. But it looks this is about to change.
The best part of my short trip to Kavala was that it was in the off-season. I could enjoy its provincial atmosphere fully and without the noise of the summer crowds. It was April and the sea was still too cold to swim in but the air was warm almost like in June.
Visit Kavala – a Town with Several Faces
Kavala has several faces. One, and most attractive, is the multicultural old town. The streets are narrow and their cobbled pavement makes you stumble and look constantly where we step. But there is so much to see! There are houses in different styles – Mediterranean, Greek or Ottoman, and many colours. The gardens are small and the orange trees full of fruits. You wonder how these trees survive among heaped one upon the other buildings and even succeed to give fruit!
People seemed to me, with few exceptions, kind and more cooperative than in other parts of Greece. Young people were lounging quietly on the café terraces, drinking their frappes. Restaurants were full at lunchtime, mostly with tourists from neighbouring Bulgaria and Turkey, but not only. The Greeks also had come out with friends or families to enjoy a nice, sunny, lasy Sunday.
The port looked deserted. And still. A ferryboat, waiting for passengers, stood at the end of the harbour as the sole guardian of the sea. His enormous belly was open, waiting for the arrival of cars that would be transported to some beautiful Greek island.
Kavala is a white city
When you look at it from above, before you enter its streets, you are amazed how similar it feels this city to the whiteness of the southern Greek islands. Almost all the buildings are white. It is farther north and still, you find the same colour combination – white and blue – the white of the houses and the blue of the sea. With the exception of the old town, the buildings are white and it is completely understandable why. Imagine the heat levels in summer!
The most surprising, however, were the sunsets. From the first evening, as soon as we arrived at our hotel room with a sea view, the pink and purple hues of the sunset were are constant evening companions.
A Brief History of Kavala
Kavala was founded in the time of Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great. At that time (7th century BC) the town was known as Neapolis and was the main seaport of the important city of Philippi.
In 1391 Kavala was destroyed and then occupied for a long period (up to 1913) by the Ottomans. Because of that, today some of the main tourist sites are connected with their presence here.
For me, as a Bulgarian, it is interesting also that this region was once Bulgarian. It was a long time ago but I have met people that still speak Bulgarian; an old version of Bulgarian language that we, the ‘modern’ Bulgarians can only read in the old books. The whole region of the Balkans is like a cauldron with different ethnicities and cultures. Sometimes is fun to be part of it, sometimes absolutely not. It depends on which historical moment you live.
When you visit Kavala, start from the Old Town. It is called Panagia and inside and around it, you will find the most interesting tourist sites – the fortress, Imaret Mosque, the old lighthouse, Mohamed Ali house and Hussein Bey Mosque that is also known as the “Music Mosque”.
Near Panagia is the Kamares, the aqueduct. Its body is so connate to the modern town that you will see houses built under its hundreds of years old arches.
Interesting for you could be also the Halil Bey Complex, Monument to St. Paul, Archeological Museum, Tobacco Museum, the neoclassical mansion of Kyprou Street and Kapnergati Square. Not to forget the port, where wanderlust dreams are easily born.
I hope you will visit Kavala if you have a chance to be nearby. It is one of those smaller cities that are the epitome of the contemporary local lifestyle more than any capital city can be.