Backing onto the easterly foothills of Mount Sýmvolo, KAVÁLA is the second-largest city of Macedonia and the second port for northern Greece; it was an extremely wealthy place in the nineteenth century when the region’s tobacco crop was shipped from its docks to the rest of the world. Known in ancient times as Neapolis, the town was the first European port of call for merchants and travellers from the Middle East. It was here that St Paul landed en route to Philippi, on his initial mission to Europe. In later years, the port and citadel were occupied in turn by the Byzantines, Normans, Franks, Venetians, Ottomans and (during both world wars) Bulgarians.
Although its attempt to style itself as the “Azure City”, on account of its position at the head of a wide bay, is going a little overboard, it does have an interesting historic centre, focused on the harbour area and the few remaining tobacco warehouses. A picturesque citadel looks down from a rocky promontory to the east, and an elegant Ottoman aqueduct leaps over modern buildings into the old quarter on the bluff. Kavála is also one of the main departure points for Thássos, as well as Límnos and other northeast Aegean islands.