Kavala is simultaneously an old and a young city, at least according to Balkan standards. Its earliest predecessor is probably a Neolithic period settlement in the Dikili Taş area. The city itself appeared on the peninsula in the Aegean Sea in the 6th Century BC. It was founded by settlers from Thassos and received the name Neapolis, or New City. For centuries it was nothing more than the harbour of the more important Philippi further inland. Being a harbour, however small, brought some important travellers to Neapolis. One of them was the Apostle Paul, who launched his first European preaching trip from Neapolis, in 49 or 50.
The Middle Ages saw the Byzantine city of Christoupolis, or the City of Christ, overtaking Philippi in importance. Bulgarians, Normans and Catalonians all fought for it, until the Ottomans got the upper hand in 1387. Some years later they ravaged the city.
This is why the features of Kavala are relatively new – at least compared to its great age. The arresting aqueduct, 25 metres high and with 60 arches, for example, does not date from Antiquity. It is the Ottoman descendent of a Byzantine structure, both built to bring water to the fortress on the hill of the old quarter. According to some, the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan designed the structure in the 16th Century.
The Ottomans also reinforced and enlarged the old Byzantine fortress. The houses with projecting bay-windows that crowd on the steep peninsula are also from those times. The grandiose tobacco warehouses, built in the 19th Century in the European fashion, were the property of wealthy Greek, Albanian, Hungarian and German merchants.
Some of the monuments in the old quarter are connected with Kavala's most famous son. Muhammad Ali Pasha was born here in 1769, into the family of a rich Albanian tobacco and shipping merchant. After a brief and successful career as a tax collector, Muhammad Ali joined the Ottoman army and went to Egypt, which was recovering from the Napoleonic occupation, where he immersed himself in the local power struggles. By 1805, Egypt was effectively his own estate.
70 years ago, on 10 March 1943, Bulgaria's pro-Nazi government decided to defy Berlin and halt the deportation of Bulgaria's 50.000 Jews. This was down to the actions of one man - Dimitar Peshev. Just two years later he faced Communist justice and found himself on trial for his life. His niece Kaluda Kiradjieva remembers