Except for the beautiful beaches and enchanting locations, Halkidiki has also a religious interest. Religious tourism is a sector of tourism that we do not give as much attention as it's needed. But if we did, it it would be a very lucrative part of our tourism.
If someone intends to visit Halkidiki and he is interested in religious tourism, then it would be a good idea to take a tour of Halkidiki and Northern Greece. Visit Meteora, Mount Athos or follow the Steps of the Apostle Paul.
Few words about some religious tourism sites in North Greece and Halkidiki:
THE STEPS OF APOSTLE PAUL
In the context of spreading Christianity, Apostle Paul visited Greece, preaching the Gospel and teaching the work of Jesus. The journey of Apostle Paul to Greece, is a route known as the "Steps of Apostle Paul". Stations of his journey were: Samothraki, Kavala (Neapoli), Philippi, Amphipolis-Apollonia, Thessaloniki, Veria, Athens, Corinth. In northern Greece it is worth visiting some of these areas and follow the steps of the Apostle.
AGIOS AGIOS PAULOS - NEA FOKEA
One more station of St. Paul, according to the tradition, is Halkidiki. It is said that when Apostle Paul went to Ierissos to declare Christianity, he was persecuted by the locals. By asking God to save him, a gap opened in front of him and he found himself in the corresponding gap in that rock in Nea Fokea. In both gaps today, holy water rises. It is worth visiting the cave that Apostle Paul used. From this cave starts a low walkway about 10 meters long and 80 cm wide, which leads to the small and open reservoir of Agiasmos(holy water). Visiting this place, is a unique experience.
PYRGOS NEAS FOKEA - AGIOU PAVLOU (1407)
The Byzantine tower that dominates the hill to the right of the harbor of Nea Fokea, is believed to have been built in 1407 to protect the Monastery of St. Paul. Today some parts of the house are preserved, as well as a church of the Holy Apostles (built in 1868). Beyond religious interest, this tower is also of historical significance, as in 1821 it was the headquarters of the head of the revolution in Halkidiki, Emmanouil Papas.
THE CHURCH OF "PANAGIA PLASTARIOTISA" (1619) KALANDRA
In the village of Kalandra, there is the church of "Panagia Plastariotisa". It is a small wooden basilica that has a special interest in its interior. There are frescoes depicting scenes from the Birth to the Crucifixion of Christ.
AGION OROS (MOUNT ATHOS)
Of course, when we talk about religious tourism in Halkidiki, we could not forget about Mount Athos. It is the only place in Greece that is allotted to the prayer and worship of God. It is located on the third "leg" of Halkidiki, on the peninsula of Athos. It is a self-governing part of the Greek state, with beautiful natural sites, 20 imposing monasteries and Mount Athos. If anyone wants to visit Mount Athos as a pilgrim, it would be a good idea to walk on foot and don't use a car as a transportation method. In this way he will be able to communicate directly with many ascetics, as well as enjoy and admire the wonderful and unique natural environment of Mount Athos. Visitors have the opportunity to experience a different lifestyle and thought. A visit to Mount Athos is permitted, according to the formal monastic state, so-called "AVATO", only to men.
Other remarkable locations for religious tourism in Halkidiki are the monastery of Saint John of Ross in Pefkohori, the chapel of Panagia Faneromeni in Nea Skioni, Agios Dimitrios in Afitos (Athitos) and many more.
Beyond the limits of Halkidiki, if someone is found in Northern Greece, it is worth visiting Meteora. A cluster of huge rocks, rising out of Kalampaka. After Mount Athos, Meteora is the second most important monastic complex in Greece. There are 7 monasteries, which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Today, six monasteries are open to visitors. A visit to Meteora will be an unforgettable experience. Due to location, stunning rocks and tranquility, Meteora is the ideal retreat for guests who want to come closer to God and for those who seek peace and tranquility.