Halkidiki is famous for its majestic beaches and lush. It combines blue and green, in a way that only a few places in the world can. Beyond the crystal clear waters and the golden beaches, Halkidiki has also another side, mountainous Halkidiki.
North Halkidiki consists of the Holomount mountain range, with picturesque villages, rich forests, rivers, natural springs and lush landscapes, that are suitable for travelers who are looking for tranquility and relaxation. In addition, there are many historical monuments worth visiting in North Halkidiki.
A place that you should definitely visit is Arnaia. In this small town, there are houses and buildings that consist excellent examples of traditional Macedonian architecture. That's why Arnaia has been characterized by the Ministry of Culture "Historical place" and "Traditional Settlement". Also in Arnaia it is worth walking to the paved alleys, as well as to visit the Mansion of Arnaia, which hostess the Historical and Folklore Museum.
In a distance of 15 km from Arnea, Stagira are located, the birthplace of philosopher Aristotle. In this place there is the park of Aristotle, which definitely worths to be seen. If you want to learn more about Aristotle's Park you can read the corresponding blog post.
Some other places in North Halkidiki that are worth mentioning are:
Poligiros is the capital of Halkidiki. There is the Archaeological Museum and the Folklore Museum with significant artifacts which were excavated in the area of Halkidiki. In the summer, various cultural events that are of great interest are organized.
Agios Prodromos is known for the taverns, the local cuisine and the famous his souvlakia. You will find a small picturesque square, the river Resetnikioti (Olynthio) which crosses the village and it's surrounded by lush vegetation, and the small post-Byzantine chapel of the Saint Prodromos.
Its location is enchanting, surrounded by hills with dense vegetation. In addition, there are many churches and chapels in the area, with the most important, the Assumption church, which is located two kilometers away from the village.
In Taxiarchis you will find traditional taverns, traditional stone houses, guesthouses, many churches and a beautiful square. Generally the area is surrounded by dense forest of fir and pine trees.
Galatista doesn't attract many tourists, however it is worth visiting for a day trip. It has a strong historical interest as it has several churches and mansions. Its most famous and important attraction is the Byzantine tower.
Halkidiki is a place which is rich in traditional customs. Many areas of Halkidiki have their own traditions, that have their roots in previous centuries. In this Blog post, you will learn some customs of Easter and New Year, as well as some other known customs, that people still keep and carry to the next generations.
The custom of vasilopita
Vassilopita is made all over the country, with variations. In Halkidiki, the materials to make vassilopita, differ from village to village. Usually, it is a sugar bread, sweet brioche. Other housewives made the vassilopita with the same dough that they made the buns. In Nikiti they made rice pie and in Galatista they made the "tsigiropita". They made them with the jelly of the pig and rice. All the vassilopitas had a "flurry". "Flurry" is a lucky coin. In many places, they put other symbols on the pie, depending on some wish they wanted to be fulfilled, such as: an olive tree, wheatgrass, etc. In the "tsigiropita" they put a cross of olive spruces instead of "flurry".
Easter in Arnea
There is a variety of Easter customs that revive in Arnaia. On the first day, young people of the village gather in the square, they dress in traditional costumes, and they give greek sweet bread, red eggs and pies to the world.
The second day they have the custom of "kantari". In the square of Arnea, there is a hanging "kantari", and they all go there to be weighed. It's a custom to see who ate the most at the Easter. Those who have the most weight get a prize of a pot. On the same day at the square, there are swings that everyone goes and the women sing traditional Easter songs.
On the third day "Koutsamos" custom revives. At 8 o'clock men with traditional uniforms and armed are gathered with horses in Arnea Square. While they're singing, they go to the Prophet Elias church, outside the village and after the ceremony, shooting with red eggs as targets begins.
The carols in Polygyros
On New Year's Eve, young people from the village went door to door to sing the carols. They decided who would be their leader, who would do Santa. They dressed in traditional capes, put white hair on their heads, took the "glitz"(a piece of wood) in their hand, and disguised as shepherds, went to sing the carols.
The burning of Judah
At Gomati on the Holy Saturday, in the village square they set up a torch and hang Judah from the top. At midnight and when the priest says "Christ is Risen" they light the torch to burn Judah. The same custom is revived in Hanioti, Pefkohori, Galarino, Megali Panagia and Neos Marmaras.
Another special custom is horse-racing. Organized on the third day of Easter, on the beach of Sykia in Halkidiki. After the ceremony, the priest gives the horsemen the image and they carry it from the church, to the place where the horsemans will be held.
'Of Khar' kou t' aloni 'and the ' Black Aloni '
In Palaiochori revives the custom of "Of Khar' kou t' aloni ". In the old temple of Archangel Michael there is a ceremony and then a great feast. Dance and custom is called "T khalkou T' aloni" and refers to the slaughter of the inhabitants of Paleochori. The same custom is made in Ierissos and is called "Black Aloni".
The custom of Klidona
On the eve of Ai-Gianni feast, the single girls of the village, gather in a house. One of them, goes to the well to bring the "silent water". On the way to the house, she shouldn't talk to anyone. At home they put the water in a clay pot, in which each girl throws a personal object. Then they cover the container with a red cloth, tie it and leave it in an open space. It stays all night under the light of the stars and it is said that the girls will see their future husbands in their sleep.
Also, on the eve of Ai-Gianni, the famous custom of fire is also happening. In the square of the village there are fires set on top of which all the inhabitants of the village jump. According to the tradition, fire, helps purification, and people are relieved of evil.
These were some traditional customs of different regions of Halkidiki. They are traditions that keep alive the cultural heritage of the place. It is worth to visit these areas and to experience the reviving history, through these customs.
Imagine you wake up on a summer morning, hearing the birds twittering. You swim watching the colors of sunrise over the sea…beyond time and place. Ooh so beautiful Greece!
Walk in the surrounding forest area, for those who love nature and wish to admire the panoramic view. The return path, gives many fine views of the sea and coast …
With a car to explore all Halkidiki during your vacation, or to visit different beaches.
The most houses is near to Macedonia International Airport (SKG) of Thessaloniki, approximately one-two hour driving time.
You can also find various services, entertaining programs, sport activities. Note, however, that these services may be subjected to additional costs in various circumstances. Hence, the overall holiday cost can be higher than initially estimated.
Yet, taking part in the destination-related activities is an excellent way for getting yourself familiarized with the local culture, folklore and landmarks. If you spend your holiday in Halkidiki, you’ll certainly benefit a great deal. As an exceptionally diverse cultural and historical destination, Halkidiki is among the most popular destinations for most travelers.
Finally, it isn’t about what’s included in an all-inclusive holiday package, but what isn’t. Therefore, don’t presume what’s logical and what isn’t while making a travel agreement. Pay special attention to cheap packages – they are rarely cheap without a good reason.