Traveler's Guide

East Macedonia & Thrace

Route in Kavala – Eikosifinissa Monastery – Panagia Pangaiotisi Hartokopi Monastery – Holy Church of Grigorios Theologos Nea Kar

Take the Kavala-Serres National Highway from Kavala and at Nikisiani (traditional picturesque village, known for its marble and the ‘Arapidon’ custom celebrated on 7th of January) and, following the signs, you reach the most ancient monastery complex in Macedonia, the Iera Patriachiki and Stavropigiaki Eikosifinissa Monastery, dedicated to the Presentation of the Virgin Mary. The monastery is the property of the Holy Metropolitan Church of Drama. It was built in the 5th century by Agios Germanos, to whom the Virgin gave the miraculous untouched icon, in a sublime “Phoenician” light from which the name Eikosifinissa derives. The monastery was extremely prosperous during the 15th century, attracting plundering and suffering catastrophes. In 1507, the Ottoman rulers slaughtered all the monks because of their campaign to avert conversion of the region’s Christians to Islam. The icons in the nave were drawn by the Moldovan monk, Mathaios, known also for his work in Athos. The gilded carved wood chancel was probably built in 1803 by artisans from Chios. The monastery includes two chapels, a burial church, a museum, embroidery and iconography workshops and a hospice with 200 beds. It celebrates on 21 November, 15 August, 22 November, the day of the first founder of Agios Germanos and on the next day, 23 November, it commemorates the second founder, Agios Dionysios. Telephone: +30 25920 61556 Celebrations: end of October, do not miss the Chestnut Festival in the chestnut wood in Palaiochori (10 minutes from Nikisiani). It is a daylong celebration with plentiful wine. The Vranokastro ruins can be found there. From Eikosifinissa, in a north-west direction, drive 4.9km heading towards the Krinides-Kormista provincial road. After 800m, turn right to Serres-Kavala and after 2.6km you reach Hartokopi This is where the Panagia Pangaiotissi Convent is located. Established in 1980, it is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin and includes a hospice, cells and refectory. Its celebration is on 15 August. Telephone: +30 25920 23799. Monastery opening hours: 8:00 - 14:00 and 17:30 – 19:30. Parking available for buses. From Hartokopi, go up to Nea Karvali (39km). After 3.4km, in a northeastern direction, turn left towards Eleftheroupoli-Folia provincial road, and after 1km turn right into Eleftheroupoli- Folia Road. After 1.3km turn left towards Egnatia Highway and left towards Kavala in 800 metres and join Egnatia Highway. 30km further on, leave the highway at the Nea Karvali exit. After 500m, turn right onto Kavala-Xanthi National Highway, follow the signs and you arrive at Agios Grigorios Theologos, one of the greatest pilgrim destinations, where relics of the Archbishop are kept, as well as his family’s remains. Refugees brought them from Karvali in Cappadocia in 1924. On 25 January the procession of the Holy relics of the Saint takes place. Telephone: +30 25103 16232. Celebrations: “Sagia” on 5 January, Cappadocians of Nea Kavala light a big fire in front of the old Community building and, holding hands, dance and sing around it, to evict goblins and send them back to the bowels of the earth. Traditional food and carols complete the ceremony. Local sweet: Kourabiedes. Visit: Cappadocia Cultural Museum and Akontisma Village Folklore Museum, built in 1996 with EU funding by refugees from Gelveri in Cappadocia. Gastronomy: original traditional dishes and recipes from Gelveri. Driving on the Kavala-Xanthi National Highway, turn left after 15km on the Chrysoupoli-Platamona provincial road. Activities: A dirt road from Makrichori leads to the Agios Kosmas birds of prey observatory (view of the Nestos Delta and Straits). Go down the River Nestos by canoe. Return to the provincial road, and following the signs for the Holy Monastery of Metamorfoseos Sotiros Nikiton, you will reach the monastery. A female retreat in 1969, it was recognized as a communal monastery in 1975. Its nave hosts the miraculous Metamorfoseos icon, which was brought here in 1922 by refugees from Asia Minor. An embroidery workshop and exhibition operates there, as well as a hospice. Telephone: +30 2591054236. From Nikites, go to Lekani. Activities: Beech forest trail, at 1.300m. Celebrations: Potato Festival in Lekani (beginning of September). Celebration in Platamona where wonderful goat soup is served and local produce is available such as chestnuts, cranberries, potatoes, cheese.