Mountainous Halkidiki

Tour through Northern Halkidiki
From the seaside villages Pyrgadikia, or Develiki, as well as from Ierissos, heading north or west, equivalently, we drive through Gomati up on mount Holomontas to the big villages Megali Panaghia with a production of wheat, wine, beans and honey and, 7 km. norther, Paleohori with its postbyzantine castle named Nepossi. Thirty km. northwest from Ierissos we arrive at Arnea, a big town in the mountainous distict of Halkidiki.
Arnea Information area
Its old traditional houses, most of which have been built in mid19th century are worth seeing. We can distinguish one of them especially, a big two-floored building, unique in the whole of Halkidiki. Also, the old school (built in 1872) with the huge bell tower next to it are worth visiting. An interesting attraction on July 26 is the big fair in honor of St. Paraskevi, whose church we can visit in the beautiful forest in the center of the town. Leaving Arnea, at the outskirts of the town, we see the Monument in honor of the villagers who were killed during the liberation of the city on Nov.2 1912.
From Arnea, if we drive north for 9 km., we arrive at Stanos, a big forest village, from where continuing westwards after a beautiful mountain drive of 25 km. and passing through the village Varvara we reach the coast on Strimonikos gulf, known as Chrissi Akti (Golden Beach) at 2 km. north of Olympiada.
Heading southwest of Arnea, through and crossing a relaxing sight with a wide variety of colors on the tall trees of the area amongst rocks, platan trees and beehives, we can see the Monastery of St Christopher on our right and the Monastery of St. Kosmas Etolos on our left. Twelve km. after Arnea, we turn north and visit mountainous Marathousa, from where after 7 km. we leave Halkidiki and drive to Thessaloniki through Nea Apollonia.
If, 3 km. before arriving at Marathousa, we turn west, we can visit the beautiful villages Krimni and Platanohori, after which driving north we cross the border of Halkidiki again into Thessaloniki State through Zagliveri.
Back on the main road continuing west of Arnea, on the mountain with the rich interchange of colors of the tree leaves, we arrive at Paleohora, a big village where wheat and tobacco are produced and, if we continue northwest on Holomontas, admiring on our left the breathtaking view of the valley below, we drive through Zervohoria, small villages as Riza, Geroplatanos, where we can visit the Monument of Nature of the 10th century, Sana and Doubia, well known for its famous water springs (the Doubia table mineral water). And again after Doubia we cross the border of Halkidiki State to the Thessaloniki on through Zagliveri. Besides, continuing on the main road after Paleohora, we return to Thessaloniki driving through Ag. Prodromos and Galatista the way we first entered Halkidiki State.
Now, if from Ierissos we follow the coast road northwards, passing along beautiful sandy beaches, we arrive at Stratoni, built on the ruins of ancient Stratonikia. Stratoni is a coast village with many cultural activities, an ideal place for harpoon fishing in the summer and hunting on the beautiful mountain. In December St. Varvara’s feast lasts five days. From Stratoni we can enjoy a beautiful view of the imposing top of Mt. Athos, the island of Thasos and, if the weather is clear, even the island of Samothraki.
From Stratoni we can either continue northwards along Golden Beach, a beautiful resort, to Olympiada on the border of the Halkidiki and Thessaloniki states, or drive westwards through the villages Stratoniki, Staghira, Neohori and Paleohori to Arnea. Olympiada was named after Alexander the Great’s mother who was banished by Kassandros there, according to the local tradition. The town has been built next to the ruins worth sight-seeing, of ancient Staghira, a historic town built in the 7th century b.C. by citizens of the island Andros, but inhabited later by citizens of Halkida, as most of Halkidiki. Staghira was the town where Aristotles, the great ancient philosopher and teacher of Alexander the Great was born in. Across from Olympiada’s gulf we can see the island of Kapros or Kafkanas and according to the ancient historian Stravon the gulf was named Kapros, too. The gulf’s shallow and clear waters attract families with small children.
We can also drive into the thick forests around Olympiada where there live more foxes than anywhere in Greece. Besides, we can walk from Olympiada to ancient Staghira and back; a short but interesting walk that takes us through the archaelogical remains of the Ancient City of Staghira, then ascends the hill on a forest track, descends to the village on a hunter’s path and the walk ends with a stroll along the beach.
Following the road west from Stratoni up on mount Stratoniko, one should visit the old (inactive now) mines of Kassandra, the largest mines in Halkidiki, with imposing establishments for the extraction of manganese iron and ferropyrites. Next to them a fortress was built and used as a mint in the 16th century. Driving always westwards we go through Mademohoria, small mountainous villages, Stratoniki, Kryoneri and Staghira. Stratoniki was built by King of Macedonia Perdikas and was named after his sister Stratoniki. The village developed rapidly during the 16th century when the mines were readjusted by the Othomans and has remained in very good condition. From Stratoniki an 8 km. long walking tour can take us to the Aristotles’ Park in Staghira. Staghira, with an altitude of 500m. over sea level is practically built in a forest.
Aristotles' Park Information area
We have to visit Aristotle’s Park, a big park with the statue of Aristotles and instruments that refer to various physical phenomena which are included in his book “The Physicals”. On September 8 a great feast takes place in an old church built in a rock.
Continuing on mount Holomontas through an enchanting route of trees on both sides of the road, we pass through the villages Neohori and Paleohori and arrive at Arnea again. From Arnea, mountain tracks can guide anyone who wants to go climbing on the mountain. From Arnea, if we drive north going down the mountain, after 9 km. we reach Stanos, a small forest village at the foot of mount Holomontas and 10 km. further east Varvara, from where after 15 more km. we end up on the coast road between Olympiada and Stavros heading for Thessaloniki.

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