GEOGRAPHY - MYTHOLOGY-
Halkidiki (Halkidice) is a peninsula of distinctive shape located roughly in the center of Macedonia.Geographically it is separated from the rest of Macedonia by an imaginary line throygh Cape Karabournou, Mt. Chortiatis, the hills south of the Langada and Volvi Lakes and the hills south of the Redina Pass. The main peninsula terminates in three smaller ones: Kassandra, Sithonia and Mount Athos (better known among Greeks as Aghion Oros - the Holy Mountain). The geomorphology of Halkidiki is interesting. It is a sloping geological table, rising from the west to the east. Thus in Kalamaria (west coast) and Kassandra we find most of the plains which are also the most fertile areas, in the center Mt. Chortiatis (1201 m.), Mt. Cholomon (1165 m.) and Itamos (in Sithonia, 811 m.) and at the eastern end the magnificent massif of Mt. Athos (2033 m.). The three peninsulas which jut into the Aegean Sea make Halkidiki the prefecture with the longest stretch of coastline in mainland Greece. The coastline of halkidiki is estimated to be more than 500 km., comprising every type of landscape. One finds long sandy beaches in Kalamaria, Nikiti, Toroni and Ierissos; alternating rocks and trees in Sithonia; picturesque small bays in Vourvourou; and impressive rocks at the Capes of Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. Halkidiki does not have any rivers, and this is one of the reasons why the sea surrounding it, is one of the clearest in greece. The prefecture of Halkidiki occupies the greatest part of the peninsula, the northwest section is part of the prefecture of Thessaloniki, and the peninsula of Mount Athos is an indepedent administrative district. The prefecture of Halkidiki covers an area of 2,886 sq.km. and has a population of about 80,000 which is divided among 5 towns and 69 villages. The capital of the prefecture is Polygyros, with a population of 4,000.
beekeeping (one of the biggest centers in Greece); fishing; forestry (lumber
and resin extraction); metal mining; tourism and to a small extent poultry
and cattleraising. The chief products of Halkidiki are the following:
· wines: Porto Carras,"Aghioritiko" by Tsantalis(made from Mount Athos grapes) and the traditional wines of Aghios Nicholaos in Sithonia.
· honey: The greatest percentage is produced in Nikiti. Part of it is disposed of locally following canning in Polygyros but most of the production is exported.
· olives and oil: Produced mainly in the southern and western areas of Halkidiki.
· wood products: Mainly in northern Halkidiki(Arnea, Paliochori, Megali Panaghia etc.)
Halkidiki’s main contribution to the Greek economy is its metal mines and tourism. There are three major mining centers : Stratoni (ferro silicon, galena, sphalerite, etc.), Gerakini (granulite) and Vadvos(granulite). There are also smaller mines for copper, chromium, manganese, gold and silver.
Tourist development started in Halkidiki in about 1960, when the first tourist installations were established by the National Tourist Organisation (EOT): the Xenia hotels in Paliouri (Kassandra) and in Ouranoupolis (Ouranoupolis), near the border of Mt.Athos. The big boom, however. Took place during the period 1968-1975 when big tourist complexes were built in Kassandra and Sithonia and the beauty of halkidiki was introduced to the tourist markets of Europe and America. Since then, tourism has continually increased, because the area has all the beauty of the Aegean islands, plus the advantage of access by road.
The roads of halkidiki are among the best in Northern Greece. Main roads are asphalt-paved and the road system is comprehensive (thessaloniki-Moudania, Kassandra circuit, Sithonia circuit, peripheral north Halkidiki-Stavros-Thessaloniki). The Pirgadikia-megali Panaghia and Stratoni-Olympias-Stavros sections are in the last stages of completion .
Many of its distinctive features were known in ancient timew and many tried
to find explanations for them. The ancient name of kassandra was Phlegra,
that is, Place of Fire. It was believed to be the land of the Giants and
the battle ground for the fight between the gods and the Giants, when the
latter tried to drive the Gods from Mount Olympos. According
to one legend, Enceladus, one of the Giants, was crushed by a rock
which the Gods threw at him. Thus the "earthquake" Giant is today buried
in Kassandra , but, not having been killed, from time to time tries to
free himself from th weight that is crushing him and his struggles result
in earthquakes. All these myths are, of course, not unconnected with the
geological phenomena which are evident in Kassandra: subsidence in the
center of the peninsula, and steam from the hot sulfur springs af aghia
the recent excavations in the cave of Petralona it has been estimated that
the history of Halkidiki goes back 700,000 years. According to the paleontologists
who studied the findings from the cave, the earliest known controlled fire
was lit here, about 700,000 years ago. The
scull found here during the excavations is estimated to be 250,000 years
old and has given science a new type of man.