Halkidiki features in many Greek myths: it is said that the Giant Enceladus was buried in Kassandra, that Giant Olympus threw a rock forming Athos peninsula and that Sithonia took its name by Sithon, the son of the ancient Greek god Poseidon.
The remains of ancient extinct animal species found at Nikiti, Vrasta and Triglia, witness Halkidiki's past. The findings at Petralona cave prove man's presence in the region, 700000 years ago -the findings include a human skull, dating back 200000 years.
The first traces of a civilized human community appear in 4000 BC. The first inhabitants were Thracians and Pelasgians.
During the 8th century BC new inhabitants arrived from Eretria and Halkida.
By the 5th century new city stated have formed such as Aineia, Gigonos, Lipaxos, Potidea, Sani, Mendi, Skioni, Aiyai, Neapoli, Aphytis, Olynthos, Sermyli, Galipsos, Toroni, Sarti, Pyloros, Dion, Kleonai, Olofyxos, Akanthos, Stagira which was the birthplace of the great philosopher Aristotle, Apollonia, Arnea, and Anthemous. By the the end of the 5th century the 32 most powerful cities founded the "federation of Chalkideans" under the leadership of Olynthos. The federation was later dissolved in 379 BC by the Spartans.
Chalkidiki was an important theatre of war during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Later, the Greek colonies of the peninsula were conquered by Philip II of Macedon and Chalkidiki became part of Macedonia (ancient kingdom). After the end of the wars between the Macedonians and the Romans, the region became part of the Roman Empire, along with the rest of Greece. At the end of the Roman Republic (in 43 BC) a Roman colony was settled in Cassandreia, which was later (in 30 BC) resettled by Augustus.
During the following centuries, Chalkidiki was part of the Byzantine Empire (East Roman). On a chrysobull of Emperor Basil I, dated 885, the Holy Mountain (Mount Athos) was proclaimed a place of monks, and no laymen or farmers or cattle-breeders were allowed to be settled there. With the support of Nikephoros II Phokas, the Great Lavra monastery was founded soon afterwards. Athos with its monasteries has been self-governing ever since.
After a short period of domination by the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonica, the area became again Byzantine until its conquest by the Ottomans in 1430. During the Ottoman period, the peninsula was important for its gold mining.
In 1821, the Greek War of Independence started and the Greeks of Chalkidiki revolted under the command of Emmanouel Pappas, a member of Filiki Eteria, and other local fighters. The revolt was progressing slowly and unsystematically. The insurrection was confined to the peninsulas of Mount Athos and Kassandra. One of the main goals was to restrain and detain the coming of the Ottoman army from Istanbul, until the revolution in south (mainly Peloponese) to be stable. Finally, the revolt resulted in a decisive Ottoman victory at Kassandra. The survivors, among them Papas, were rescued by the Psarian fleet, which took them mainly to Skiathos, Skopelos and Skyros. The Ottomans proceeded in retaliation and many villages were burnt.
During the early 20th century the people of Halkidiki joined for the liberation of Macedonia.
Finally, the peninsula was incorporated in the Greek Kingdom in 1912 after the Balkan Wars.
Ten years later the arrival of thousands of refugees from Asia Minor led to the formation of 27 new villages that contributed enormously to the region's cultural and economic growth.
In June 2003, at the holiday resort Porto Carras located in Neos Marmaras, Sithonia, leaders of the European Union presented the first draft of the European Constitution.
Source: Halkidiki Tourism Organization wikipedia.org