Nea Moudania

Anytime you see the prefix "nea" ("new') before a place name in Greece, it almost always refers back to an older village in Asia Minor, where Greeks had a presence going back at least 3,000 years, until the great population exchange between Greece and Turkey took place in 1923 at the conclusion of the Greko-Turkish war. Greeks refer to this loss of Greece's foothold in Asia Minor as the Great Catastrophe.

Nea Moudania takes its name from Mudanya, a mid-sized city along the Black Sea in northern Turkey which had a significant population of Pontic (Black Sea area) Greeks. "New" Moudania, on the northern shore of the Gulf of Thermi, at the very beginning of the Kassandra peninsula and 55km southeast of Thessaloniki, has about 10,000 residents. It's Halkidiki's second largest population center, and one of Greece's largest fishing ports, which helps if you vacation here and are in the mood for seafood.

Thessaloniki's Alexander Technological Institute has a campus in Nea Moudania. It focuses on aquaculture technology, which develops fish farms, an important industry now that the Mediterranean is in danger of being fished out.

The town is located in a sea of olive groves which give the surrounding area a beautiful, pastoral aspect. But more importantly for the prospective visitor, Nea Moudania has a well-developed tourism sector and a very nice beach, with a stunning view of Mt. Olympus 80km across the waters of the gulf.

The beach is full of beach bars, places to do water sports, and cafes. There is a beach volleyball stadium. And there are fish taverns serving some of best-tasting, freshest fish in Greece. There are several nice hotels and resorts, and a number of night clubs.

There is also a 2,000-seat open air amphitheatre, which hosts the Festival of the Sea every summer, a cultural event featuring theatrical performances and concerts. A stroll through the older part of town is pure pleasure, a gradual uphill climb that terminates in the large, beautiful basilica of Panagia Korifini (Our Lady of the Hilltop) Orthodox church.

The harbor has a yachting club, and ferry service to nearby Thessaloniki. The ferry is a pleasant, hour-long boat ride to the biggest city in the Balkans, second richest in the Old Ottoman Empire only to the capital, Constantinople (as the Greeks still call it). There is also ferry service to the Skiathos, one of the Sporades Islands to the south, about halfway to Athens, and to Pefkohori, on the east coast of Kassandra Peninsula.