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Old towns in Greece (PHOTOS)

The Byzantine & Venetian past of Greece before your eyes

They are popular and fascinating towns as well as historic sites; these places strike a self-confident pose in many a snapshot that captures the ambiance of old times…

Are you ready for a journey through time? Come with us for a stroll in the most charming towns of Greece!

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Xanthi – the old town

Xanthi is proud of its Old Town and rightly so as it is a cultural asset to the region of Thrace. The meandering cobblestone backstreets add to the charm of the well-tended grand houses built in the special local style, a mixture of Greek neoclassicism, local architecture and ottoman craftsmanship.

Every September the Old Town wears a festive mood and its neighbourhoods get decorated with multi-coloured settings against which numerous artistic events are staged. Visit the Folk Art Museum which is housed in Kougioumtzoglou Mansion, the Art Gallery, and Daniel Mansion where Manos Chatzidakis -a 20th-century great Greek composer and poet- was born.

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Uptown neighbourhoods in Kastoria town

One of the town’s most picturesque localities is Doltso, an old area at a short distance from Lake Orestiada. The neighbourhood boasts impressive grand houses of the 17th and 18th century that are reminiscent of a once blooming economy based on fur tanning and trade.

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Many of these houses have been turned into museums, like the Neratzi Aivazi mansion which houses the Folk Art Museum, the Emmanouil mansion which is now the Costume Museum etc. Round up your walk near the northern beach; you will reach another historic neighbourhood, called Apozari. Feel the aristocratic ambiance, visit the elaborate byzantine churches and walk by the beautiful stately buildings constructed according to the local Macedonian architecture.

Traditional localities in Veroia

There were 16 districts in Veroia in the mid 19th century. The best known remaining ones are the Jewish and the Christian quarters. Kyriotissa is a traditional orthodox locality with numerous byzantine and post-byzantine churches decorated with marvellous ceramic ornaments and religious icons that are fine works of art. You will be impressed by its meandering backstreets lined with grand houses (such as Sarafoglou Residence) as their architectural style is quite particular. Many of the listed buildings in the area have been renovated and they are now housing leisure time activities.

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Barbouta is a traditional quarter, one of the most significant Jewish districts across the world. Narrow streets surround the imposing stone building of the old Jewish Synagogue; its interior has been richly and elaborately decorated.

Kavala (Panagia) Old town

The town stretches from Kamares –the town’s medieval aqueduct- all the way to the Ottoman castle. Follow the cobblestone alleys upwards to the top and enjoy the panoramic view over the entire town. Panagia’s best sights are the castle and the Acropolis, Imaret (meaning poorhouse) and the old lighthouse at the end of Theodorou Poulidou St.

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The old town’s focal point is Mohamet Ali square. At the center of it stands the statue of Mohamet Ali, a local historical figure of the late 18th – early 19th century, between his quarters and Panagia church. The church was built after 1965 on the ruins of a post-byzantine three-aisled basilica.

Xopoli, Corfu

This is the name given by locals to their Old Town – a major landmark on the entire island. It is a cultural heritage site, among the most beautiful in Greece, included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site List. Xopoli is delimited by two fortresses: The Old Fortress in the northeast and the New Fortress in the south.

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Start your tour at the spacious Spianada square, walk under the impressive archways to Campiello, perhaps the most charming of the town quarters. Enter the maize of kantounia (narrow alleys) and go past tall tile-roofed houses where laundry is hung to dry between the houses, high above the ground, pass by rock-hewn wells, small squares and churches with elaborate bell towers; this is a good way to experience the charming ambiance of times gone by.

The medieval town of Rhodes

This historic town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has been built in a semi-circular form around the harbour. It is one of the few remaining medieval towns, having stood the test of time remarkably well, in all its beauty and splendour! Time seems to have stopped in the Middle Ages and the town’s knightly past creates a mystic ambiance. Cobblestone alleys and gothic towers will open up and reveal their secrets to you. Visit the Palace of the Grand Master (14th c.), Kastello, one of the first buildings constructed by the Knights Hospitaller of Rhodes, the Archaeological Museum, and the Clock Tower. Walk by the well-known Street of the Knights, which has been restored to the exact dimensions and form it had during the middle ages.

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Nafplion – the Old Town

It was founded at the foot of the large Akronafplia Rock, and it is crowned by Palamidi castle. This is the most romantic of old towns in Greece and you are invited to explore it! Stroll in the cobblestone backstreets, smell the sweet perfume of flowers coming from the balconies of elegant neoclassical and well-tended stately houses. Discover the town’s impressive historical monuments most of which are located around Syntagmatos Square built in the Italian style.

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Visit two Ottoman mosques, one of which is today used as a cinema screen and theatre area. This mosque had once housed the first School where students would teach each other according to their abilities (Allilodidaktiko School). The other mosque was where the First Parliament of Greece had its sessions. Visit also the Archaeological Museum where precious exhibits dating to the Prehistoric and Mycenaean Period are on display. Other interesting places for you to see are the Municipal Gallery, the house of Theodoros Kolokotronis [one of the 19th c. greatest Greek freedom fighters against the Ottoman rule], the mansion of Ioannis Kapodistrias [first Governor of Greece], and St. George’s church.

Well-known Old Towns in Crete

Chania or Rethymno? Over time, the question remains without a definitive answer, seeing that both towns boast a significant history which is evident in their Old districts that possess a charming mixture of Venetian and Ottoman heritage elements.

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The Old Town of Rethymno was built on the cape along the north shoreline and it is –to this day- extremely well-preserved, it could even be called an open air museum. Among the most interesting monuments are Fortezza, Loggia, Rimondi Fountain, Porta Guora [Great Gate], the central entrance to the Venetian fortified walls, the imposing church of St. Francis, the picturesque Venetian harbour, the mosques of Kara Mousa Pasa & Neratze and many more.

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In Chania, behind the Venetian harbour, there is a fascinating world that oozes the style and ambiance of past times. Topana, Splantzia, Kasteli, Santrivani districts and the Jewish quarter are there for you to visit them and explore their meandering alleys, discover the monuments that flank them, their history as well as the essence of Cretan culture. Wander around, stop by the traditional cafes (kafeneia) and tavernas and drift into their magic atmosphere!

Source: visitgreece