Megali Panagia village

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Megali Panagia

It is one of the largest and most important settlements of the Municipality of Aristotle, known for the Great Pilgrimage of Virgin Mary, the reason why many people come here every year. The small town with its approximately 3.500 residents, is built at the foot of the hill named “Chtikela”. It is located 80km from Thessaloniki and 12km from Arnaia. The village was named Revenikia and its current name was given in 1928. It is one of the oldest in Halkidiki and is often referred to in byzantine documents of Mount Athos –in fact, there is a reference to “kastelion of Aravenikaia” and to a tower in a 1349 document. During the Ottoman years it was one of the greatest Mademochoria . The Turks destroyed it in 1821. In 1932, an earthquake centered in Ierissos, destroyed many of the old and beautiful houses, and some of them were burnt during World War II.

Three rivers used to run through Megali Panagia but only one is visible nowadays. A restored, arched, thousand year old, bridge, made of stone, still stands beside the asphalt road. Residents cultivate olive trees and they are also involved with animal breeding, agricultural tourism and logging. In the old days there were many good builders who worked in Mount Athos, and many weavers. The monastery of Megali Panagia is not the only one in the area: There is also Panagia-Fovera Prostasia (Virgin Mary of Great Protection), which is 4km away via a passable dirt road.

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It is worth seeing the temple of St. Vasilios (1955) and “Panagouda”, a church which -according to tradition- was built in 1007 on the highest spot of Megali Panagia. It is dedicated to The Assumption of Virgin Mary and celebrates on September 8.