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HISTORY OF MARMARAS AND PARTHENONAS

MARMARAS

Neos Marmaras is a coastal town of Sithonia, the middle peninsula of Chalkidiki, located 125 Kilometers from Thessaloniki - Greece's second largest city. Situated amphitheatrically on a three-hill mountain cluster known as the Dragontelis of Itamos it is the largest mountain region of Sithonia with peak altitudes of 811 meters. Here, northern precipitation in conjunction with the beautiful blue sea and luscious green mountainsides give one the impression of being on an idyllic Greek island.

Neos Marmaras was founded after the Turkish uprootment of 1922 by refugees who originated from the island of Marmaras in the Propondithas region of Asia Minor. Up until 1967 many residents from the neighboring town of Parthenona had established themselves in Neos Marmaras. In 1970 when the community of Parthenona was abolished the town was eventually abandoned and the residents were naturalized as residents of Neos Marmaras. With both personal industry and great economic support from their Greek-American compatriots these refugees of Marmaras completed construction efforts ranging from the town's school to the Great Archangel Church founded in 1937. The first regular means of transport with Thessaloniki was conducted in the spring of 1946 by sea. In the spring of 1952 roadwork stretching from Marmara to Nikiti was completed and Neos Marmaras acquired road access to the rest of Chalkidiki and Thessaloniki. In 1959 municipality approval was granted and in 1961 first signed. At that time Neos Marmaras had 1.200 residents. In 1975 the New Aqueduct was built and water was supplied to the greater part of the town. From 1979-80 construction of the New Civic Center was undertaken and eventually completed. In 1985 the Paschalaki Cultural Civic Center was built at the site of the Old Town Hall with the charitable benefaction of American compatriot Artemis Paschalaki. Neos Marmaras High School has operated from that location since 1987. At present the permanent residents of the town roughly number 3000 with their primary means of occupation being that of fishing, agriculture (vineyards, olives, etc.), beekeeping, hunting and, above all, tourism.

The town receives a great deal of tourist trade from May until October with population surges approaching that of 20,000. Amongst the town hotels there lies the hotel resort of Porto Carras. With three hotels, 2,500 beds, modern auditoriums, convention centers, dance halls, a cinema, various sports activities (golf, tennis, surfing, sailing, fishing), and organized athletic events (champion sailing, golf, biking, chess, etc.) it is the largest hotel resort in the Balkans. At Porto Carras one can also find the only private marina of Northern Greece and one of the largest and best-known European vineyards producing world famous wine. It is in this rather large hotel enterprise that many residents of N. Marmaras and those of neighboring villages find employment. Within the town one can also find hundreds of room rentals in the area and plenty of supermarkets, folk art stores, taverns, restaurants, cafeterias, bars, clubs, car-rental companies, buses, taxis, hair salons, pharmacies, medical labs, and dental offices. There are also three foreign language schools that operate in the town as well as a school for continuing education, a Tae Kwon Do school, a scuba diving school, and aerobic exercise gym. As for sports there's a town soccer team (ΑΕΟ Propontis) and a basketball team for men, women, teens, and children (ΑΟΚ Neos Marmaras). The Cultural and Folkloric Association, known as the Proikonisos, is responsible for hosting events such as the annual "Memories of the Old Country" festival that includes re-enactments of matchmaking-engagements and the Joy (of marriage) as was done in the Unforgettable Homeland. It is also responsible for other fairs such as that of traditional home arts and crafts, photography, book-writing, orthodox icon painting and framing, seashell collecting, agricultural tools, dowry and bridal gifts, etc.
The Association also has choir halls, folk dancing and folk music, which take place at the Paschalaki Cultural Civic Center. Other associations that have been founded are the Association of the New Parthenona-Sithonia Residents, "The Neo-Parthenites", and the Political Association of Long-Standing Parthenona Residents, "The Parthenon", which organizes among other things the renowned July 27th Festival. It's a fairly new town so the fact that an archeological monument is nowhere in sight can be excused. Be that as it may, the extensive area of Chalkidiki invites one to tour the archeological sites, the pre-historic areas (Petralona Caves), the historical locales (Toroni, Olinthos, Stagera, Akanthos, Potithea, etc.), and the Byzantine Monument (Monasteries of Mount Oros).

For most of the 20-kilometer stretch of beach in this area the pines come down to the waves. Visitors can enjoy the crystal blue and virgin beaches of Paradise, Gregoriatiko, Koutsoupias, and Azapiko as well as the beaches in Ν. Marmaras, which are graced each year with the blue flag of Europe, the cleanliness of the Sea, the lush beaches and the clean environment. All around Marmara there are numerous little harbors and in areas outside of town lie enchanting little private coasts and small island clusters (Spalathronisia). A visitor can tour these beaches by boat or car and enjoy the clean aqua blue sea and golden sun. Of notable interest is the desert island Kelifos, a habitat of wild goats that also contains rich fishing grounds and a splendid sea bottom ideal for deep-sea photographers. Over the course of the summer several day trips are mounted: circumnavigation of Mount Oros, cruise to the Gulf of Toroneo, biking, hiking, bird watching, attending live Greek music performances, and other cultural offerings and folk celebrations. Neos Marmaras is located on Sithonia's highway axis point and is connected via inter-urban transportation with all the peninsula's towns, such as Toroni, Sikia, Sarti, Bourvourou, Nikiti, and Saint Nicholas. There are also daily routes passing Moudania or Poligyro that connect the town with Thessaloniki. Moreover, the town provides public services such as a hospital, banks (National Bank of Greece and Eurobank), the telephone company (OTE), a post office, a postal bank, a customs office, and a harbormaster.


PARTHENONAS

Many historical sources, especially Byzantine, speak of Parthenona as early as the 10th Century A.D. The town is also known as Parthenopolis, Partheni or Parthenionas. Its place is set always on Loggo, the peninsula of Sithonia (somewhere near Toroni), without conveying its exact spot. Contemporary scholars continue to hold the belief that the old town, the Byzantine Parthenonas, and the present one, in other words the tourist town, are not found in the same place. In any case the ancient city Parthenopolis has to be found near present day town. The rare archeological and developmental makeup of Parthenona, which altogether retains the look of a past era, draws the attention of both the high profile tourist and those who want to remain anonymous. In present day Parthenona there are taverns, guesthouses, while the center near the church (the old civic center of Parthenona) is being reconstructed with devotion. In Parthenona we also encounter the folk museum and "the boiler", where Greek wine known as tsipouro is produced. In addition, Parthenona took a new turn in the course of its long existence: its established and new residents together with those of Neo Marmara closely work together in the preservation of the authenticity. The old and new residence together with Neos Marmaras work closely in maintaining its authenticity from the thoughtless invasion and habits formed from mass consumption.
The village auto protects itself, in terms of building and usage of areas.
Parthenonas of Sithonia, model and example for imitation, celebrates a traditional, ancestral festival of Agiou Pantelimona, on July 27. Everyone is welcome to attend the festival, to witness the good reputation of hospitality of the Parthenioton and to see a village and an area with true working class feeling and tradition.

A village that is not abandoned...

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