Footsteps of St. Paul… Kavala

In discussing the highlights of Insiders Tours Footsteps of St. Paul Odyssey, we begin with Kavala, previously know as Neapolis in biblical times.

Neapolis is the present-day city of Kavala. Located along the crystal clear blue waters of Eastern Macedonia in Northern Greece, with its prime geographical location, its natural port, and its proximity to the gold-bearing Mount Pangaion, there is no enigma why Kavala has been settled throughout the ages.

The city has distinclty appeared with various names throughout time, each of which holds a special meaning to the era it was named. From Neapolis, to Christoupolis (being one of the first European cities to accept Christianity), to the modern-day Kavala.

It is at Neapolis where St. Paul first steps upon when he arrives on the mainland of Greece. In 49 AD, the Apostle Paul comes to spread the message of Christianity for the first time in Europe, makes his way to Philippi, and baptizes Lydia, the first European Christian woman, on the banks of the River Zygaktis. 

During Byzantine times, the Byzantine emperor Justinian I fortifies the city to protect it from barbarian raids. Later, the city was named Christoupolis—city of Christ. 

The Kavala aqueduct, popularly known as the Kamares (Καμάρες, “arches”), is a well-preserved aqueduct,and is one of the city’s landmarks of Roman origin. The present structure dates to the 16th century, but was originally part of a Byzantine barrier wall of the early 14th century, built as part of the fortifications on the Kavala Acropolis. It is most unique since it appears to serve as a proper aqueduct in a time when Byzantine cities typically uses wells and cisterns. The barrier wall is replaced with the present arched aqueduct during the Ottoman rule and Suleiman the Magnificent’s repair of the Byzantine fortifications. As late as 1911, it is still being used to supply the city with drinking water from Mount Pangaion.

Today, the picturesque city is an important fishing center and one of Northern Greece’s major ports. It is dotted with many architectural structures from the ages. Besides the aqueduct, the imposing castle or fortress crowning the city in the cultural area of Panagia is where one finds the remains of the first Christian house of worship in the walled city, namely the three-aisled Early Christian Byzantine church of Agia Paraskevi. The remains of the church are visable through the glass floor of the Halil Bey Mosque. With a visit to the modern mosaic at St. Nicholas, symbolizing the Step of St. Paul, travelers truly experience the crossroads of civilisations: Neapolis to Christoupolis to Kavala.