The city of Kavala, the most important haven of East Macedonia and Thrace, has changed names and reigns through the years. It was first Neapolis, then Christopoulis (because it was the first city to adopt Christianity as a religion from Paul the Apostle) and Morunets (while in the boundaries of the Medieval Bulgarian Empire). Then it was captured by the Ottomans and after a certain period of a century and a half receives the name Kavala. There, however, has been one fairly constant characteristic of the city, which, despite being reconstructed or modified by the different authorities, outlived the different reigns to become a symbol of the city – the Citadel of Kavala.
The citadel is located on the top of the Panagian peninsula (Virgin Mery), but the architects have managed to create a unique integration between it and the houses of the Old City of Kavala. During the period when the city was in the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire, it was an important fortress, with the citadel dominating the Panagian peninsula with its height of 70 metres. After the Ottomans captured the city, they considered that the reconstruction of the citadel would be advantageous for them, too. So, in 1425 they rebuilt the walls that had previously destroyed in order to have protection against the vigorous attacks of the Venetian fleet. In 1530 the Ottomans made a new reconstruction, which gave the citadel its present look – it was extended and its defensive qualities were brought up to a higher level.
From the 17th century onwards the citadel was closely linked to the history of the city of Kavala. It underwent a few minor reconstructions and caught fire in 1684. The citadel was used as a prison and there were times when about 100 subjects of the sultan were kept there as prisoners. In the 18 century the citadel was modernized and there is data that in year 1786 there were about 10 cannons that served for the better defence of the city. Till about 1885 the authorities and administration of the city of Kavala were located in the citadel. After that they abandoned it and moved in other parts of the city. The cannons were no longer needed and were removed.
In the beginning of the 20th century the citadel lost its military function and became a public place. The residents of Kavala used it to play football there or to use it for the wrestling competitions of the ‘pehlivans’. The fortress was also a destination for school excursions. It was used for the last time during WWII when the city was occupied and two rooms were built in front of the guardhouse to serve as offices.
Today the citadel is being reconstructed with the plan to serve again to the citizens of Kavala and to preserve it for the future generations. If you want to visit the fortress, you can access it on foot from the streets Kountouriotou, T. Poulidou and Fidiou Road, by a tourist train, which departs from a spot in front of the National Bank or by taxi. From April 1 to October 31 the citadel is open for visitors every day from 08:00 to 21:00 and from November 1 to March 31 – from 08:00 to 16:00. The entrance fee is 2.5 € for adults and 1.5 € for children.