the port of Philippi
where apostle Paul first landed on European soil, became the Byzantine town of
Christoupolis, the last stronghold against a host of aggressors; the city was
fortified by Andronikos II Palaeologos only to be pillaged in the 14th century
by irregular bands of Ottoman Turks. From the 15th century, under its new name,
Kavala, this strategically located city once again flowered both economically
Kavala from the 16th to the 19th century
In the middle of the 16th century, the French naturalist Pierre Bellon described Kavala's walls, baths, places of worship and aqueduct, built during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and the reason for the changed face of the city (which had previously been reduced to a way station after the Turks destroyed it in 1391).
Because of the etymology of the word, Bellon believed that Kavala was founded on the site of the city of Boukefala (Bucephala) and that it was initially (around 1520-1530) inhabited by Jews of Hungarian origin, who were eventually surrounded by both Greeks and Muslims.
In the 17th century Evliyia Celebi postulated that the word derived from Kavalos, son of Philip II, while the French philhellene Charles Sonnini observed in 1780 that the rock on which the city's houses still cluster resembles a horse ('caballo' in Spanish).
By the end of the 18th century, Kavala had developed into a center of French commerce with close ties with Marseille and Constantinople. It already consisted of five neighborhoods with 900 houses (most of them Turkish). Outside the fortified peninsula, cotton warehouses were built, which together with the inns and the customs house gradually came to constitute the city's business district.
Kavala in the 19th century
While business activities were beginning to spread beyond the city walls, the administrative center (the Turkish governor's residence) continued to be located within the fortified hilly peninsula. Between two and three thousand people were packed into this area, which measured less than 25 acres. Initially, this was where the small Greek community of Panayia (on the site of the Byzantine town of Christoupolis) was located.
The future regent of Egypt, Mohamed Ali, was born in the old city. During his heyday, in 1812, he built the poorhouse where the ancient Parthenon temple had stood; also called the 'tebelhane' (inn for the lazy), it was later converted into a muslim theological school.
The Greek business community, which from the mid-19th century had begun to show considerable growth, built new churches (Ayios Ioannis, 1865-1867), schools (e.g. the Parthenagogeio or Girls School), hospitals (e.g. the Evangelismos), and some splendid mansions.
The very profitable tobacco business had already started to attract a constantly rising number of Christians.
Kavala in the early 20th century
At the turn of the century Kavala was growing by leaps and bounds. Tobacco exports were at their peak (circa 10,000 tons annually), reaching a value of almost two million pounds sterling. The tobacco warehouses were brimming with seasonal laborers from all over eastern Macedonia.
The Greek population, which constituted the majority of the town's inhabitants, was thriving. Charitable and pro-education societies of men and women, clubs, hospitals, athletic associations, printing presses and Greek schools of every level were founded and prospered in a city that was bursting with life and nationalist hopes. The newspaper "Flag" was the mouthpiece for advocates of a free Macedonia.
With the Greek vice consulate as headquarters, prosperous Kavala took part in the Macedonian Struggle, both by organizing Greek guerrilla bands and by acting as a post for the transport and distribution of military supplies and arms.
Kavala after the liberation
Kavala was liberated and incorporated into the Greek state on 6 June 1913, after seven months of Bulgarian occupation.
The city spread out impressively along the waterfront, where most of the tobacco warehouses were located. Within one century its population had grown tenfold and its economic prosperity was more than evident.
The change in the flow of trade at the end of the 19th century and the isolation of the port of Kavala from the railroad network had not affected the export traffic. The town's modernization and wealth, which soon easily absorbed some 25,000 refugees from Thrace and Asia Minor, was disrupted only by the destruction dealt by the Bulgarian occupations during the First and Second World Wars.
By kind permission of:Ekdotike Athenon
This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Macedonian Heritage URL below, which contains images.
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