Kavala is a town with multiple historical layers. It was founded in the 7th century BC as a colony of the island of Thassos, right across from it, in order to exploit the gold and silver deposits that were abundant in a nearby mountain. Its name at that time was Neapolis (New City). The city gained its independence a century later and eventually aligned itself with the Athenian League fighting the allied armies of the Spartans and Thassians in 411 BC during the Peloponnesian wars. The town thrived during Roman times due to the construction of the Egnatia road, a significant commercial route during Antiquity.
Kavala was an important commercial link between Thessaloniki and Constantinople in later centuries and, as such, it was fortified by Byzantine emperors to protect it from barbarian raids. Based on records of the early 9th century it was renamed Christoupolis (City of Christ). The city went through a tumultuous phase thereafter witnessing raids by the Bulgarians, the Normans in 1185 who succeeded in capturing and destroying it, and the Catalans who attempted to raid it in 1302 but failed. But the city eventually fell to the Ottoman armies in 1387 and completely destroyed in 1391.
Kavala remained part of the Ottoman Empire from 1387 to 1912. In the middle of the 16th century, Ibrahim Pashha, Grand Vizier of Suleiman the Magnificent, contributed to the prosperity and growth of Kavala by the construction of an aqueduct. The Ottomans also extended the Byzantine fortress on the hill of Panagia which today comprises the old section of the town. Both landmarks are among the most recognizable symbols of the city today. Another important figure during the Ottoman period was Mehmet Ali, the founder of a dynasty that ruled Egypt. He was born in Kavala in 1769. His house has been preserved as a museum.
Kavala thrived during the modern period by receiving Greek refugees in the aftermath of the Greek-Turkish war of 1919-22 and through industrial and agricultural growth which was centered around the tobacco industry. Several buildings used for the storage and processing of tobacco survive from that era.
Today Kavala remains one of the most picturesque towns in the north of Greece, evident in the video below and in the photos throughout our website.