All villages have their own unique story and grace, travel around and enjoy the images that every place can offer!
Ierissos: It is the oldest and largest village and the capital of the Municipality of Aristotle. It is, historically, the continuance of ancient Akanthos, which was, since the 7th century B.C.. Today’s settlement was built from the ground up, since the fatal 1932 earthquake of 7 Richter. As proved by excavations, today’s city is built on top of the ancient cemetery of Akanthos. Modern Ierissos is a beautiful, well structured, coastal city. Just 1 km to the northwest you will see the impressive tower of Krouna. It is an important harbor of north Greece, with a remarkable fishing fleet. The residents were considered to be great shipbuilders, carrying on an ancient craft from generation to generation. The shipyards of Ierissos were some of the most significant in Greece, with famous shipbuilders. You will notice the old «karnagia», as they call the shipyards. Most people visit Ierissos as a passage to Mount Athos, or stay there to enjoy its sandy beaches. The studios and the hotels, but also the the beach bars, the cafes, the taverns and the coastal sidewalk make Ierissos a unique vacation destination.
Arnaia: Is recognized as one of the most beautiful mountainous villages in Macedonia, built in a privileged position, with plenty of running water and surrounded by lush forests. It still preserves its traditional architectural style. Liarigkova, is the first name of Arnaia in 1928, and is mentioned for the first time in a document, in late 14th century, as a dependency of Konstamonitou monastery of Mount Athos. The village seems to have been created by farmers of the dependency around the well of the age-old plane tree that is located in the main square. The radial alleys start from the main square, pass through smaller squares and neighborhoods. Here you will admire the remarkable traditional houses, painted in various colors.
Megali Panagia: It is known for the Great Pilgrimage of Virgin Mary. The village was named Revenikia and its current name was given in 1928. It is one of the oldest in Halkidiki and is often referred to in byzantine documents of Mount Athos. The Turks destroyed it in 1821. In 1932, an earthquake centered in Ierissos, destroyed many of the old and beautiful houses, and some of them were burnt during World War II. Residents cultivate olive trees and they are also involved with animal breeding, agricultural tourism and logging. In the old days there were many good builders who worked in Mount Athos, and many weavers. Apart from the monastery of Megali Panagia there is also Panagia-Fovera Prostasia (Virgin Mary of Great Protection).
Ammouliani Island: The only populated island of central Macedonia has turned into one of the top tourist destinations of northern Greece. The 2 nautical miles separating the main settlement of Ammouliani from the port of Tripiti are covered in less than 15 minutes and the ferries are very frequent, daily. The island of Ammoulini looks like a paradise, with, low hills, few olive trees but many beautiful beaches with crystal clear, turquoise waters. In early 1925, the island was given to the refuges of Asia Minor and specificaly from the islands of Propontida (Gallimi, Pasalimani, Skoupia). These refuges coming from regions nearby Constantinople, brought with them their culture, manners and customs. Having knowledge of the sea, they were occupied in fishing and managed to excel in a small period of time. Nowadays, tourism is one of the most basic occupations of the residents, since the island is visited by thousands of tourists from Greece and abroad, every year. Tourist infrastructure –rooms to let, hotels, taverns, canteens, beach-bars, camping sites etc.are constantly upgraded.
Gomati Through this beautiful village you can access wonderful beaches such as Develiki, Kastri, Pyrgos, Hiliadou. According to archaeologists,the ancient city Assira was located in the area. Gomati, or “the country of Gomato” was a part of Mount Athos up until the 9th century. A great part of it belonged to the monasteries of Megisti (Great) Lavra, Iviron,Dionisiou and Xiropotamou. According to a version, Gormatos, a general of the Byzantine Empire, had in his jurisdiction the area of the island Lemnos. Many of its residents fled from Lemnos due to pirate raids. Some of them fled to northern Halkidiki, to a forested and inaccessible –but safe from the pirates- area where they built Gomati. Old Gomati, remains of which are still preserved, is 4km away from today’s settlement and was protected by 3 towers named Orfanou, Kounoupi and Develikisa. Only the ruins of the tower of Orfanos are preserved nowadays.
Nea Roda: It is considered, by many, to be the largest settlement of refuges coming to North Halkidiki after the Asia Minor disaster. The name indicates the residents’ origin: Roda of Propontida. In the summer of 1923, almost 40 families decided to settle in the “Provlakas” position (which means before furrow, ie before the Canal of Xerxes), after wandering around. In the first few years, residents of Nea Roda, the narrowest place of Athos peninsula, were mainly occupied in agriculture and fishing. Nowadays, the area has a lot of tourists thanks to the beautiful beaches. More than 1.200 people live here all year and this number is multiplied during the summer. The small distance from Ierissos (6km) helps in the faster development of Nea Roda and the tourist infrastructure really stands out.
Neochori: Large forested lands with chestnuts and oaks together with the main asphalt road twirling its way around the settlement form a unique scenery. It has the same name for centuries. Turks called it “Yenikoy” (New Village) and Slavs “Novoselo” (also New Village). Some of its residents came from the regions near Volos and Katerini. The oldest evidence of the village’s existence is a 1640 purchase agreement. The very important chapel of Prophet Elias is located in the northeastern side, in the forest outside the settlement.
Olympiada It was created in 1923, in a location of a temporary agricultural settlement with huts where a dozen of families used to live. When the refuges of St. Kyriaki of Asia Minor arrived here in 1922, those families moved to today’s Stagira. The region is of great historical importance since Ancient Stagira is located at the eastern part of Olympiada. According to a local tradition the village was named after Olympiada, mother of Alexander the Great, who was exiled by King Kassandros to Ancient Stagira. Today’s village, built alongside a beautiful beach, stretches in a bay of a natural harbor. It is surrounded by green mountains and magnificent beaches that attract a lot of visitors. Cultural and artistic events take place each summer on St. Kyriaki holiday, among them the one regarding Aristotle, the great philosopher who was born in Ancient Stagira.
Ouranoupoli: More than 1.000 residents live under the shadow of the impressive tower of Prosforio. Ouranoupoli is the last place the visitor headed to Mount Athos passes through. It was named after the Alexandrian city, founded in 315 B.C. by Alexarchos, son of Antiparos and brother to Kassandros. Some preserved coins are signed “OURANIAS POLEOS” and others “OURANIDON POLEOS” and have a representation of Ourania Aphrodite. During summer the accommodation facilities, as well as the beaches, fill withvisitors. Most tourists also visit the famous Zygou monastery, located 2km away, which is indeed an experience not to be missed. Ouranoupoli is is a vibrant state all year round. Men pilgrims travel by ship from the small port of the tower of Prosforio, to Daphne, the seaport of Mount Athos. In early 14th century, the Vatopediou monastery built the byzantine tower located in the SW corner of the village for the protection of the dependency. It is the largest and best preserved in Halkidiki. After the Asia Minor disaster, refuges from the islands of Marmaras in Propontida, arrived at the village and settled in the tower and the nearby buildings. Some years after a community under the name of “Prosforion” started to form, later named “Pyrgos”.
Palaiochori: This beautiful village and important transportation hub is located between Arnaia and Neochori. The residential planning still preserves traditional features and the houses are spread around the square with the age old plane tree. Its roots go back centuries and it is not randomly situated near the Neposi castle. Coins, pottery and shells have been occasionally found in the wider area, as well as ruins from fortifications and tombs. A plate indicating that the settlement existed 1.000 years ago was found in Neposi castle. In fact, according to some evidence, Palaiochori was one of the 32 cities of the Olynthian Federation, destroyed in 348 B.C. by Philip II. Also located there is the, according to tradition, miraculous picture of Archangel Michael (16th century, cretan-macedonian art) and the picture of Virgin Gorgoepikoou (the only exact copy of the one embedded in the wall of Dochiariou monastery in Mount Athos). According to researchers, Alexis Zorbas of Nikos Kazantzakis lived in Palaiochori from 22 to 44 years old.
Pyrgadikia: The village stretches amphitheatrically on a slope of a hill and is surrounded by many small, beautiful beaches that unfold like a lace in Siggitikos bay. After the Asia Minor disaster, the region received many refugees from the Afthoni village located on the island of Marmara in the Black Sea. In 1925, they founded Pyrgadikia, following a functional urban design. In Byzantine era documents, the settlement is referred to with its current name. Residents’ occupation, besides the traditional olive cultivation and fishing (a fishing shelter is operational), is providing tourist services.
Stagira: The settlement of Stagira is built on the foot of mountain Stratoniko (Strebenikos) at an altitude of 500m. Its older name was Kazantzi Machala. Residents worked in the mines during the Byzantine era and the Ottoman rule. It is worth mentioning that the great Greek philosopher Aristotle was born about 8km to the northwest, in Ancient Stagira, historical continuity of which is considered to be the current settlement. The park of Aristotle is in the entrance of the village. Sidirokafsia was the headquarters of the mine and an important administrative center of the area, with its own mint. There are also other interesting monuments, such as the towers, the public baths and the house of Madem Agas. By entering Stagira you will see the temple of the Assumption of Virgin Mary, which is of great archaeological importance, was built in 1814 .
Stanos: Is an exquisite village, 8km from Arnaia. Its characteristics are its neat appearance, the excellent climate (520m altitude), the wonderful vegetation that surrounds it, the large valley to the west and the… voices of happy children! It is the second village of Greece with the most families that have many children. The signs on the main road show that most residents are occupied in construction. There are many versions regarding the name of the village. One of them is that it was named after Stanos, a General of Alexander the Great, who passed through the village. Another is that it was named after the Latin adjective “Stanus-a-um” which means a region that holds water for a long period of time. During Ottoman rule, Stanos was integrated to the community of Arnaia. In 1922 it became a separate community.
Stratoniki: This village is built on mountain Stratoniko, offering view to Ierissos bay and Athos peninsula. It is one of the 12 Mademochoria and the residents traditionally worked in the mines. It is said to have been built by Perdikas, King of Macedonia, to honor his sister Stratoniki. Today’s village, is united with Stagira. According to tradition, the history of the mountain Stratoniko’s area is connected to the rich in deposits –silver mainly- land, since the time of Alexander the Great. Stratoniki, due to the deposit of the nearby area, has many subway routes underneath. Some of the old houses have been preserved. Stratoniki flourished since 1530 B.C., since the Sultan Soleiman I restructured the mines of the Ottoman Empire, famously known since byzantine era as Sidirokafsia. The area had become a small Babel from the many languages heard. One could hear Greek language from the workers and residents of the nearby villages, Spanish-Jewish language from the many Jew merchants and moneychangers, and many other Balkan languages.
Stratoni: Today’s Stratoni is a seaside village built in the Ierissos bay. It was founded in the late 19th century. The rich mixed sulphide ore deposits, discovered since ancient times and byzantine era, were the main resources of the village. Since then, many people from Stratoni and from many other parts of Greece came to work in the mines.The population greatly increased due to the arrival of refuges coming after the Asia Minor disaster. The region was inhabited since ancient times and the mining activity in Stratoni and the nearby villages started in approximately 600 B.C. The 1962 excavations showed that Stratoni was built were the ancient Stratoniki was. Residents of Stratoni, despite coming from different places, formed a unified, harmonious whole, and were always distinguished for their love of culture.
Varvara: A more than 90.000 acres green, forested land seems to hold a lucky village in its hug. It is named after its patroness Aghia Varvara (St. Barbara), with its main church built in 1875 or -according to local myth- after the region’s earlier queen. Built at 550m height, between the hills of Derveniko and Sougkliani, Varvara has neighborhoods with narrow paths, plenty of running water and springs. It offers a great view beyond Strymoniko and the lake Volvi. In 1821, it had the fate of the other villages of Halkidiki and was burned by the Turks. It took an active role in the Macedonian Struggle. The village celebrates in an incomparable mountainous winter landscape on December 4, the day of St. Varvara. A great feast also takes place on the day of St. George (second day of Easter) and lasts 3 days.