PENINSULA KASSANDRA CHALKIDIKI Tourist, Archaeological & Cultural Guide
Tuesday, August 04, 2020
The area in which the “rights” of the current Community of Kallithea extend, approximately in the middle of the east coast of Kassandra, is a place with a memorable historical past.
Today’s Kallithea was founded in 1922-23, as a settlement of the Community of Athytos, with the name “Metochion Rossikon”. Its original name is due to the fact that the first settlement of the refugees who created the settlement, took place in the building facilities of the share “Neromylos” of the Mount Athos monastery of Agios Panteleimon. In 1925 the settlement was renamed “Nea Flogita” (Government Gazette A / 381/1925), a fact which creates confusion among researchers of cartography in Halkidiki. Before 1940 it was renamed “Maltepe” and in 1946 it was recognized as an independent Community, which was renamed “Community of Kallithea” (NW 107 / 26-9-1946. Government Gazette A / 290/1946).
Its population development was in 1928/112 people, in 1940/215, in 1951/216, in 1961/198. Since then, the rapid tourist development of Kassandra began, which included Kallithea in both population (mainly seasonal) and residential development.
Kallithea, which is a refugee settlement (one of the three in Kassandra), is the current link of an unbroken historical chain of people in the area. We consider it appropriate to briefly present a very interesting review of the history of the place, noting that the research of its past is still in its infancy.
The oldest installation of the area is located below Paliochora of Solinas, on the beach. There was a remarkable settlement of the Early Bronze Age, in the 3rd millennium BC.
In Paleochora, the few ruins of a large walled city can be seen, which could be identified with the “Nean Polin” mentioned by Herodotus, placing it just after Afytis, to the south. A few years ago, short excavations were made there, from which parts of the strong fortification of the city were revealed. Neapolis was a colony of Mendi and our knowledge of its history is minimal. It should probably be considered that it continued to exist until Hellenistic times, if we take into account the existence of the large and luxurious Macedonian tomb found at its southern foot, next to the mouth of the stream Potoki. This tomb was completely destroyed (October 1988) depriving us of valuable information about the area and the history of Greek art in general.
Along with Neapolis, there was the famous Sanctuary of Ammon Zeus, on the beach of today’s Kallithea, which administratively belonged to neighboring Afytos. Worship events at the sanctuary must have begun very early. Around the middle of the 8th BC. Century was founded a sanctuary dedicated to Dionysus and the Nymphs. It is not known when the worship of Ammon Zeus began, but definitely in the 5th century BC. At the end of the same century the altar of Ammon was founded. The temple was built in the second half of the 4th century BC, but soon suffered serious damage and was repaired in the 3rd century BC.
During Roman times (1st-2nd century AD) the old altar was excavated and a new, smaller one was built. Then the new buildings with the stands were built, probably for the faithful to watch from there the “events” at the altar. In the Sanctuary of Dionysus there was an institution and the “Apollo Kanastraios” was worshiped. The complex of the Sanctuaries was violently destroyed, perhaps in the time of Theodosius the Great. Then the early Christian basilica must have been built, of which only architectural members were found. The sanctuary of Ammon Zeus was one of the most important places of worship of the father of the gods in ancient Greece. The Afyteans, to whom the Sanctuary belonged, greatly honored Ammon Zeus and depicted his head on the coins of their city. The abundant waters and the rich vegetation that adorned the Sanctuary in antiquity, were famous. Thus, when the Spartan general Agisipolis fell ill from sunburn in Toroni, he asked to be taken to the “shady tents and the bright and cold waters” of the Sanctuary of Dionysus, where he died.
The Sanctuary of Ammon Zeus is located west of the hotel "Ammon Zeus" on the beach of Kallithea. A part of the temple has been excavated (only the platform survives) and the area of the altar. The temple was of Doric style. Its dimensions are estimated to be 10.50X21.40 meters. It had 6 columns on the narrow sides and 11 on the long ones. Each column must have been 5.23 m high, while the diameter of its base was 0.86 m. The architectural members of the temple were made of local coniferous stone and coated with white marble mortar. After the partial destruction of the temple in the 3rd century BC. (destruction which is probably due to the invasion of the Gauls) the temple was repaired and the new thrigos was made of marble.
The Sanctuary of the Nymphs and Dionysus is located SW of the temple of Ammon Zeus. A stone staircase carved into the rock was excavated, which leads to a cavity in the rock. A large cave with beautiful stalactites was discovered under the stairs, but it has not been explored yet.
While the great early Christian basilica was being built on the site of the ruined Sanctuary of Ammon, in the neighboring Tube, the worship of a today unknown witness of the new faith had begun. Our knowledge of him is in its infancy. In the cemetery of Naples, on the shore south of the torrent Potoki, a rectangular epitaph monument was established, the so-called “martyrdom”, measuring about 9X9 m., which was decorated internally with magnificent mosaics on the floor and precious stones. During the 6th century it was “surrounded” by the walls of a church of “royal” style. The expected continuation of the excavation will give us valuable information about the early Christian Architecture of Kassandra, but (mainly) will give us information about the first witness of the Christianity of Halkidiki that becomes known (with the exception of the new martyrs).
The usual historical leap of the “dark ages” follows and our first subsequent information is from the beginning of the 11th century. At that time, in the hinterland of Kallithea, there was the village of Agios Dimitrios (perhaps “Paliochora”, between Afytos and Valta, or Kremmidi) which a little later became part of the Mount Athos monastery of Vatopedi. Around 1044, the monastery of Agios Panteleimon was given “the suburb of Agios Dimitrios of Fouskoulos”, which was located between the then existing villages of Iatros, Kamares, Vrizas, Chortokopi, Palinea and Vourkan. Of these villages, which were located in the wide area between Valta - Kallithea - Afytos - Papastathis, there is no memory today. Inside the suburb (estate) of Agios Dimitrios, there was the homonymous church (Kremmidi). The church of Agios Georgios (in today’s Vlachika, where the homonymous shrine, the “well of Areos” and a cobbled street.
In addition to the suburb, the Monastery was given “another place, text on the seashore of the eastern sea, near the place of Kandilapta, plus the vineyard and the cathedral”, covering an area of about 50 acres. It is probably the metochi in Ammon Zeus.
The turbulent centuries that followed resulted in the Monastery losing its rights in the proastio. In 1419 it was granted “the inside of the island of Kassandra Paleochorion of Agios Dimitrios and land around it of thirty couples”. The traditional document describes in detail the boundaries of the estate, the southern boundary of which was the pine-covered torrent just south of Kallithea. There they separated the “fair” of the monastery of Agios Panteleimon from the “fair” of the village of Solinos. In the place of ancient Naples there was now the village of Solinos. Its ruins can be seen on the rocky and olive grove slope, in the southern part of Paliochora - Neapolis, where there was the village tower that was stoned during the 1950s.
We do not know much about the village of Solinos. It is essentially the historical continuation of Neapolis and continued to exist, declining and poor, until its final destruction in 1821. Its beach was one of the two anchorages that served Valta. There was one of the massacres of Chalasmos, because the Ottomans caught many Halkidiki people who were trying to board the Greek ships that were waiting to save them. I think that the number of human bones found in 1977 on the mound of the Macedonian tomb, must be related to the “slaughter of Solina”.
With the domination of the Russian monks in the monastery of Agios Panteleimon, in the middle of the 19th century, the rapid development of the share of the Watermill began. In the 1860s began major construction work on the new stock buildings. Then the Sanctuary of Ammon Zeus was located, which was stoned for the service of the monks.
The metochi was one of the main production units of the Monastery of Agios Panteleimon. It was served by many seasonal and permanent laborers and in 1920 41 people were enrolled in it.
The refugees brought to their new residence many and remarkable relics, mainly ecclesiastical, which are kept in the former parish church of Agios Nikolaos (old converted warehouse of the share) and in the metropolitan church of Polygyros. Most important are the icon of St. Nicholas (perhaps of the 16th century), the two-faced large icon of the Transfiguration (1858) and of Christ the Benefactor (14th century), the embroidered epitaph (1680) and other newer, more representative, samples of Ecclesiastical art.
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