Kavala - Kamares, The Castle and the Acropolis, Imaret & The Mecca of tobacco

Kamares, meaning arches, are the trademark of Kavala and a listed monument. It is actually an aqueduct built in 1550 by the Sultan Suleiman II, the Magnificent and repaired in the 19th century by Mehmet Ali to serve the water supply needs of the City. It is a monumental construction, 52meters high, consisting of 60 arches. On Kamares are perched some beautifully repaired refugees’ houses as well as 20th century stores.

The Castle and the Acropolis

The Acropolis was built by the Ottomans between 1425 and 1530 on the ruins of a byzantine castle. It consisted of the inner and the outer walls, which connected the acropolis to the peninsula’s walls fortifying the lower part of the hill on the side of the port.

The castle was built at a time when the war was conducted with early weapons such as bows, arrows and swords. This is why it could not defend the region sufficiently and ceased to operate as a defensive fortress in the following years. Around 1700AD it became a place of imprisonment and exile. The walls surrounding the peninsula of Panayia were reconstructed from the Ottomans at the beginning of the 16th century in order to protect the 130 hectares’ city.


Imaret is an impressive building erected by Mehmet Ali (1769-1849) as a donation to its native town. Ali was born in Kavala and later became Ruler of Egypt. It is situated on the western side of the Old City, in Panayia, occupying an area of 3500 m2. It was beautifully renovated by the Misirians, a family of tobacco traders. The building complex was a “kulliye”- a religious school- maybe the last of the Ottoman Empire offering social and educational services. On its premises it hosted two Madrasahs (religious educational foundations), two mestzit (pray-spaces), an imaret (a kitchen for soup), a mekteb (elementary school), offices and dormitories. 

The initial educational and charity purpose of the foundation eventually changed and after 1858 it was even considered to be harmful for the city. It continued however to operate as a religious school until 1902 and as a charity foundation until 1923. After the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey at the beginning of the ‘70s, Imaret was inhabited by refugees. After 1967 Imaret entered into an era of decadence. Its renovation lasted 22 months and today it operates as a luxury hotel.

The Mecca of tobacco

The tobacco cultivation started in Kavala at the beginning of the 19th century forming an indispensible part of the city’s history for over 150 years, as well as the reason for the city to be wealthy and prosperous. From 1918 onwards operated in Kavala around 50 tobacco companies while the 160 tobacco warehouses engaged half of the country’s tobacco workers (around 14.000). 

However, the world economic crisis that broke out in 1929, the fact that the profession became less “protected” and the withdrawal of many men from tobacco industry led the biggest tobacco centre of the Balkans to a great decline.


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