Chalcidice or Chalkidike or Chalkidiki or Halkidiki (Greek: Χαλκιδική [xalciðiˈci]), is a peninsula and regional unit of Greece, part of the Region of Central Macedonia in Northern Greece. The autonomous Mount Athos region constitutes the easternmost part of the peninsula, but not of the regional unit. The capital of Chalkidiki is the main town of Polygyros, located in the centre of the peninsula.
Chalkidiki today is a popular summer tourist destination.
Aristotle was born here in 384 B.C.
The Cholomontas mountains lie in the north-central part of Chalkidiki. Chalkidiki consists of a large peninsula in the northwestern Aegean Sea, resembling a hand with three “fingers” (though in Greek these peninsulas are often referred to as “legs”) – Pallene (now Kassandra), Sithonia, and Agion Oros (the ancient Acte), which contains Mount Athos and its monasteries. Chalkidiki borders on the regional unit of Thessaloniki to the north.
Its largest towns are Nea Moudania (Νέα Μουδανιά), Nea Kallikrateia (Νέα Καλλικράτεια) and the capital town of Polygyros (Πολύγυρος).
There are several summer resorts on the beaches of all three fingers where other minor towns and villages are located, such as at Yerakini (Gerakina Beach), Neos Marmaras (Porto Carras), Ouranoupolis, Nikiti, Psakoudia, Kallithea (Pallene/Pallini, Athos), Sani Resort and more.
The first Greek settlers in this area came from Chalcis and Eretria, cities in Euboea, around the 8th century BC who founded cities such as Mende, Toroni and Scione a second wave came from Andros in the 6th century BC who founded cities such as Akanthos. The ancient city of Stageira was the birthplace of the great philosopher Aristotle. Chalkidiki was an important theatre of war during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Later, the Greek colonies of the peninsula were conquered by Philip II of Macedon and Chalkidiki became part of Macedonia (ancient kingdom). After the end of the wars between the Macedonians and the Romans, the region became part of the Roman Empire, along with the rest of Greece. At the end of the Roman Republic (in 43 BC) a Roman colony was settled in Cassandreia, which was later (in 30 BC) resettled by Augustus.
During the following centuries, Chalkidiki was part of the Byzantine Empire (East Roman Empire). On a chrysobull of Emperor Basil I, dated 885, the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) was proclaimed a place of monks, and no laymen or farmers or cattle-breeders were allowed to be settled there. With the support of Nikephoros II Phokas, the Great Lavra monastery was founded soon afterwards. Today, over 2,000 monks from Greece and many other Eastern Orthodox countries, such as Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Russia, live an ascetic life in Athos, isolated from the rest of the world. Athos with its monasteries has been self-governing ever since.
After a short period of domination by the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica, the area became again Byzantine until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1430. During the Ottoman period, the peninsula was important for its gold mining. In 1821, the Greek War of Independence started and the Greeks of Chalkidiki revolted under the command of Emmanouel Pappas, a member of Filiki Eteria, and other local fighters. The revolt was progressing slowly and unsystematically. The insurrection was confined to the peninsulas of Mount Athos and Kassandra. One of the main goals was to restrain and detain the coming of the Ottoman army from Istanbul, until the revolution in the south (mainly Peloponese) became stable. Finally, the revolt resulted in a decisive Ottoman victory at Kassandra. The survivors, among them Papas, were rescued by the Psarian fleet, which took them mainly to Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. The Ottomans proceeded in retaliation and many villages were burnt.
Finally, the peninsula was incorporated into the Greek Kingdom in 1912 after the Balkan Wars. In June 2003, at the holiday resort of Porto Carras located in Neos Marmaras, Sithonia, leaders of the European Union presented the first draft of the European Constitution (see History of the European Constitution for developments after this point).
Neos Marmaras (New Marmara) is a village on the Sithonia peninsula, in the Chalkidiki peninsula, Greece. In 2011, Neos Marmaras had 3,352 permanent residents; however, the summer-time population has been estimated at 20,000. The main industries are tourism, agriculture (olives, wine, and honey), and fishing. Situated on three shoreline hills, below the two mountains, Itamos and Tragoudeli (singing mountain), Neos Marmaras is located 125 kilometres (78 mi) from Thessaloniki, and 55 kilometres (34 mi) from Poligyro.
Most of the residents are originally from Marmara Island, in the Sea of Marmara, and from Parthenona, a small village on the mountain, Itamos. Neos Marmaras was formed by refugees from Marmara Island in 1925.
Porto Carras is a big 5 star resort outside Neos Marmaras. It is one of the biggest in northern Greece. There is also a famous wine from Porto Carras called Domaine Porto Carras.
Neos Marmaras has numerous settlements and islands including:
Paradeisos, a small settlement close to Neos Marmaras. It has approximately 40 people and lies just downhill of Marmaras in a low-lying area.
Agia Kyriaki, a very small marina and fishing settlement in a small bay outside Marmaras with some 20 people living there in the summertime.
Imeri Elia is a small settlement close to Porto Carras. Some older mills are found in the river, Potamos Neou Marmara near Imeri Elia. The area has some 20 people living there in summer.
Azapiko Beach, a famous beach outside Marmaras, with only 5 people living there in summertime.
Kelyfos Island, meaning Shield Island in Greek, is an island located just outside the bay of Neos Marmaras. Also called Turtle Island, the island is said to look like a turtle. The island was a strategic hiding point during the ancient days of Greece and in some cases during the second world war.
Spathalonisia. This island is located near Azapiko beach. It is the biggest island on the west side of Sithonia peninsula.
The climate is hot in the summer and mild in the winter, due to its location on higher grounds. It rains a lot in the village, specially winter time but the village has seen snow several times. The areas surrounding Neos Marmaras, specially the village of Parthenonas has seen snow almost every winter.