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A stroll through the garden of paradise is no longer impossible. Along the seashore under the sun, the indented coastline spreads out for many kilometres alongside the blue waters of the sea, into a secret garden of pleasing scents and lush vegetation. An artist would strive to find suitable colours to capture on canvas the countless shades of nature, the magnificent depths of the sea along sandy or rocky beaches and the patterns the sea has sculpted on the rocks and even the movement of the wind through the trees. Choose your favourite colours and paint your holidays in Halkidiki, like you have always dreamed of. The enchanting peninsula of Halkidiki, reminiscent of Poseidon's trident, is located south of Thessaloniki and consists of three smaller peninsulas; Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. The capital of Halkidiki, Poligiros, can be reached by road, while the nearest airport is the Thessaloniki International Airport - Macedonia. Halkidiki has a variety and diversity which will satisfy even the most demanding visitors. Flavourful areas offering traditional cooking can be found in all the architecturally magnificent villages of the area, along with idyllic bays and small islands, stunning archaeological sites and a unique cave. There is also an exciting nightlife, beaches that seem to stretch forever and turquoise waters. These are just some of the things that make up this Peninsula. Archaeologists will lose themselves into examining civilisations stone-by-stone in Olynthos, Stagira, Petralona cave, Potidaia and Toroni. Romantic visitors will aimlessly wander the vast expanses of sandy beaches and traditional alleys, while the active types will enjoy all kinds of water sports on the beaches of Halkidiki, as well as biking or trekking in Mt Holomondas
Kassandra Peninsula
Like a ship at anchor, the Kassandra peninsula patiently awaits every summer the waves of thousands of holidaymakers, in order to take them to the beaches they have dreamed about all winter. The most densely populated of the three peninsulas - in addition to its many kilometres long indented coastline and crystal clear waters - offers a vibrant nightlife. Many bars are arrayed along the coastline or in the villages, while the area also features spas, large scale hotel facilities and hosts two major festivals, "Sani" and "Siviris". Kassandra is at the westernmost tip of Halkidiki, close to Thessaloniki. Entering into Kassandra makes quite and impression, as it is connected to Halkidiki through the bridge at Nea Potidea, the first village visitors encounter. In fact, the Kassandra peninsula is an island separated from the mainland by the Potidea canal, which offers a spectacular panoramic view, especially at sunset. It is worth mentioning that Kassandra used to be named Flegra, which means "place of fire". According to Greek mythology, the area was home to giants and became a battleground during the era when they tried to banish the gods from Mt Olympus.
Sithonia Peninsula
Sithonia is the second peninsula of Halkidiki. The rugged, exciting landscape of this middle prong appeals to nature lovers and holiday makers seeking refuge from the trappings of civilization. The coastline is attractively varied - a succession of fishermen's hamlets, picturesque little harbors, deserted beaches of all sizes surrounded by trees and bushes. Sithonia is a symphony in blue and green; names do not exist for all the shades and hues of vegetation, sea and sky you'll find here. But you don't have to "rough it" in Sithonia. There are hotels of all standards to choose from, including the only deluxe complex in Halkidiki with an 18-hole golf course among its many facilities. Tennis courts and water sports are widely available, and horseback riding through the pine forests is unequalled anywhere in Greece. For nightlife and other amusements associated with resorts, Sithonia manages to combine traditional beauty and hospitality with contemporary pleasures.
Mount Athos Peninsula
Mount Athos (Agion Oros) is the last prong and the most beautiful of all. Civilization has not intruded into the Holly Mountain, which is inhabited solely by monks. Rising majestically out of the sea to a height of 2,033 m, Athos is covered with virgin forests; its physical beauty is almost overwhelming. The magnificent peninsula has been the sole province of men dedicated to the workship of God and the Virgin for well over a thousand years. In 885, the Byzantine emperor Basil I, proclaimed it the exclusive domain of monks and hermits. In 963, the first organized monastery was founded. A century later it was decreed that "no smooth faced person" be permitted to violate its sanctity. This prohibition is still enforced, and no female may set foot on Mt. Athos. Centuries of isolation and devotion to the Orthodox religion have endowed the Holy Mountain with a unique mystical atmosphere. In its prime, in the 15th century, Athos boasted 40 monasteries and about 40,000 monks. Nowadays the number of functioning monasteries has dwindled to 20 with a population of approximately 1,700 brethren. Surrounded by an incalculable wealth of ecclesiastical treasures, rare icons and libraries stocked with precious manuscripts, they live simply according to a strict regime of prayer and labor untouched by modern frivolities. Men wishing to visit the Holy Mountain are admitted by special permit only. The rest must be content to end their journey at Ouranoupolis, Heaven's City, where they can be consoled with a cruise around the extraordinary peninsula. Known for its aquamarine waters and delightful beaches, Ouranoupolis may be as close to paradise as we will ever get.