Kassandra : Afytos
Athytos (ancient: Aphytis) is known for its traditional architectural beauty and stunning sandy beaches. It is a picturesque and lively community that has kept all the characteristics of a rural seafront village and also offers excellent dining & entertainment options. Athytos is certainly one of the most beautiful villages in Kassandra peninsula. The village's beautiful stone houses with the distinctive architecture and the inscriptions and reliefs, are very interesting. Athytos is known for its rich cultural tradition. During the summer, you can attend numerous events such as music and dance performances, visual arts events, painting exhibitions and folkloric events.
Since about 3000 B.C. many people came and settled in the area where Aphitos is presently situated. And this is obvious from the prehistoric settlements that have been found here. This took place throughout the whole of Halkidiki and till Archaic Times we observe the passage of various Thracian and Pelasgian tribes. From the 8th c. BC onwards, many colonists from Evia came to settle in this area. People from Halkida and Eretria created a large number of small colonies throughout Halkidiki. This migration of people went on till the 6 th century B.C. It is estimated that ancient Aphytis (Athytos) was established during this period (Thoucidides 4, 109). The reason that the Ancient city was established in that particular place is that it was by itself a natural fortress, which was a very important factor for a colony to be established. The crag would protect the city against any attacks from the sea. Also, the little lake that existed till 1963, and which was very close to the sea, would serve as a small bay, a natural harbor for the mooring of ships. Stefanos the Byzantine, refers to the Ancient city with the names: Aphiti, Aphytis, Aphitos. The name "Athytos", which became prevalent in the later years, is a linguistic phenomenon (see Athina 45, page 341, Pantelides phonetics 39). According to Stefanos the Byzantine, Aphytos got its name from a local.
Many ancient authors consider Athytos as a very important place due to the oracle of Ammon Zeus and the temple of Dionysos . The Temple of Dionysos , that is chronically connected to the settlement of the people of Evia and the development of Aphitos, is mentioned for the first time by Xenophon in his "Ellinika". In 381 B.C. the King of Sparta Agisipolis laid siege on Toroni. During that time he was seriously burned by the sun and he asked to be transferred to the Temple of Dionysos which was situated in a shadowy place and there was clear and cool water. According to Xenophon, Agisipolis died a week later. The dead body was put in an earthenware jar full of honey, and transferred to Sparta for the official burial.
During the archaic and classical times, Aphytos was a very prosperous city which minted its own currency bearing the head of its patron god, Ammon Zeus. This prosperity was mainly due to agriculture and viniculture. Aristotle mentions the "Agricultural Law" of Aphytos, that constitutes a specially interesting and unique chapter in the history of ancient Greek finance affairs.
Shipping must have played a great role in the financial situation of Aphytos, taking into consideration the size of its harbor, which is to be found today in the seaside park with the pine trees. According to Herodotus, during the Persian wars (5 th century B.C.), Athytos was forced to reinforce the Persians with soldiers and ships, just as the other cities of Halkidiki had to do. But after the battle of Platees (479 B.C.) they left the Persians and took part in the Athenian Alliance. As a member of this alliance they used to pay the treasury of Delos three talents yearly, which was then a very significant sum of money.
Based on the Athenian "monetary resolution" which was found in Athytos, we can have an idea concerning the relationships between Aphitos and Athens . This resolution of 423 B.C., gave directions in connection with the minting of coins and monetary transactions in general. As a result of its participation in the Athenian Alliance, Aphytos was besieged by the general of the Spartan army (Lissandros) during the Pelopponesian war. According to Pausanias, Ammon Zeus the patron god, appeared in Lissandro's dream and advised him to stop the leaguer, which Lissandros did.
It is possible that Aphytos had also been destroyed by Philip II, in 348 B.C. as were the rest of the cities of Halkidiki. Nevertheless, the construction of Zeus's temple in the latter half of the 4th c. B.C., presupposed financial prosperity for the city. There is also another aspect that has been suggested which is that the Macedonian Kings contributed to the construction of the above-mentioned temple. Anyway, during the Hellenistic and Roman times, Athytos was monetizing again, a fact that is related to the luster and reputation of Zeus's Temple. Strabo mentions Athytos among the five cities of Pallini, that existed in the 1st c. A.D. (Cassandria, Aphytis, Mendi, Skioni and Sani).
A long period of time for which we have no information about Aphytos interceded. The ruins of the mediaeval wall of the citadel, where Koutsomilos is found today, as well as the preservation of its name testify that life in Athitos never stopped. The first written information comes from documents from Mount Athos , from the 14th c., where we find Athytos as "Aphetos". In 1307-1309, the village was destroyed by Catalan invaders and the inhabitants settled, for a period of time, in their scattered farm houses. The 1647 murals on the walls of the Taxiarhes chapel (which was demolished in 1954) is evidence that Athytos prospered in that period of time. During the Greek Revolution against the Ottoman rule in 1821, Athytos made its presence felt by offering many fighters and having many victims. But it was also set on fire as was the whole of the Kassandra peninsula. After the devastation its inhabitants went away to several other areas such as Skopelos, Skiathos and Atalanti. Around 1827, part of the refugees returned to Athytos, due mainly to its location, it seems that it was the capital of Kassandra for many years. Captain Anastasis came to live in Athytos. Captain Anastasis ruled the peninsula up to 1834.
Existing archaeological findings support the view that the present village was built in the same area where in the mid 8th c. B.C. the ancient village of Aphytis had originally been built by the people of Halkis. Historical reports and the preservation of its ancient name, confirm the residential continuation of the area from ancient times up to the present. Of course Aphytis had been destroyed numerous times by the invaders of the times. The last catastrophe recorded was the one in 1821 during the Greek revolution against the Turkish oppression.
The inscriptions on the walls of the buildings with their date of erection reveal the intense development of the village in the second half of the 19th c. during which period it underwent great prosperity. The old village centre, having followed the natural shape of the ground, developed around the church of St. Dimitrios (1857) and was most probably completed no later than 1920. The village continued spreading to the south and west, very little towards the coast, until it had finally achieved its present shape and size. Properties were quite big, they had adequate space for other requirements (stable, shed, outdoor furnace etc.) of the inhabitants, who were mainly occupied with farming. Buildings were usually built in the front part of the plot and faced the south so that the roofed verandah, which was widely used, could have as much sun as possible. The architecture of the houses, which were mostly double-storey buildings were quite conservative, as far as their shape was concerned, but their conservativeness was overshadowed by their originality on detail, which is to be found on other buildings apart from houses (churches, taps, stone fences etc.). In general there are two types of double-storey houses, the broad-faceted with a rectangular ground plan and the square-faceted with a square ground plan. The structure of the inner space and its use was the same in both kinds.
In 1995, the inhabitants of Aphytos, resisting the wide use of concrete in modern villages, and supporting the initiatives of the then president of the village, Vasili Pavli, pushed forward the idea of a traditional village by re-erecting the old stone houses, paving the streets, creating pavements, etc. So the old local porous stone quarries reopened and today every contemporary edifice is built with the local stone.
Visit the Rock - the "Village Balcony" - and Koutsomylos - the "Village Acropolis" - to admire the fascinating view of the bay of Toroni, Sithonia and Kassandra.