The tower of Krouna
One of the most important sights in the region of Ierissos is the tower of Krouna, located approximately 1km northwest of the town. It was a dependency, surrounded by a wall, which has almost collapsed. Nowadays, the tower is 12m in height. It is said that it had an additional floor that collapsed. Many sources refer to it with its full name, Tower of Krouna of Hilandariou monastery. The monument belongs to the jurisdiction of the 10th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities. You can only see the outside of it (there is signage on the main road outside Ierissos).
Ancient Akanthos stretched in three hills of the Stratoniko mountain, in an 560 acre area, approximately 600m southeast from the Ierissos settlement. The walled city of Akanthos was named after the many thorns of the region or after the thorn-formed shape of the fortification. A systematic excavation has yet to be done. Some of the travelers of the previous century report the existence of an ancient pier in the port of the city. Indeed, present evidence regarding the city start from the beach of Ierissos, where ruins of a platform of the ancient port are preserved.
The walls of the acropolis are the most important preserved ruins, since parts of 8m in height are some of them. The ruins, visible at present day, are mainly parts of the city’s fortification, ruins of walls, an impressive part of the acropolis, scattered architectural parts and structural ruins of the Hellenistic period, public buildings, houses and the foundations of a temple –probably of Goddess Athena- on top of the hill.
It is wonderful to take a walk on the three hills where Akanthos used to be. You will enjoy it especially in spring when the place is verdurous. Ascending straight from the entrance of the archaeological site, you will see the byzantine cobbled road with a house and an inside yard surrounded by rooms, on it. It was built in the later 4th century B.C. early 3rd century B.C. and was destroyed in the 2nd century B.C. As it seems from its structure, it is characterized by the total feeling of privacy.
Continuing your walk, you descend on the first hill where a byzantine church is located, probably of the 10th century, built from material of the ancient building that was destroyed by the 1932 earthquake. Potteries of the Early Iron Age have been discovered around it. Walking towards the second hill you will see on your left parts of the wall and next you descend to the third hill. There are foundations of a hekatompedon ancient temple (i.e. 100 foot or 30,48m long) on top of it, by the excavation of which few movable findings were discovered. The view is outstanding.
Some burials in jars or smaller vessels are also recorded, that consist the largest percentage of the childrens’ and babies’ tombs. The funeral gifts are of a great variety. Most of them are clay vessels. Many of the funeral gifts were private property of the dead or were relevant to the profession or their occupation: among them, jewels, pins, brooches, mirrors, strigils, needles, hooks, knives etc. The existence of weapons was probably rare. Clay figurines in the form of gods, cupids, actors, humans, animals are often found in women’s and mainly children’s tombs. Similar burial customs, tombs and findings are found in cemeteries of other cities of Macedonia and Thrace. The influences, the cultural contacts and the trading with the Greek-speaking countries of the East and the island centers of the Aegean Sea with Euboea, Athens, Corinth and Boeotia are obvious. The workshops of Akanthos, where amphorae for the transportation of the famous “akanthio wine” were constructed, were situated between the ancient cemetery and the city.
The medieval cemetary of Ierissos
The tombs were pits of simple construction, dug in the sandy ground. Rough plate blocks or fragments of Christian slabs or fragments of post-Roman sarcophagus supported most of the tombs’ walls. The covering plates were of similar material. The orientation was always W-E and every tomb had only one deceased (except a childern’s tomb that had two), lied down, with his hands crossed on his chest or, rarely, one on his chest and the other on the middle of the pelvis.
Several coins, made of copper mostly (earrings and rings), some silver (earrings) and necklaces made of beads of glass were discovered. Few coins (from Akanthos, unrecognized –probably roman) were found in the dirt embankments. Pottery was discovered only outside the tombs. These were fragments of ancient vessels and one and only feature Christian shell. Published coins from every Balkan country, similar to ours are dated from the 6th until the 12th century B.C.
Unique formations of white rocks and thick, white sand create an impressive sight. A small sign before you enter Ierissos (coming from Stratoniki) shows the way to the beach. The huge beach of Ierissos begins after Kakoudia.
The northern border to the Holly Mountain -at Skopos position- marks the end of the busy Komitsa beach. It is one of the longest in the Municipality of Aristotle. You will find umbrellas and sun loungers at some points. It is located just 5 km from Nea Roda and approximately 8 km from Ouranoupoli.
It is just 10 minutes from Ierissos located between Nea Roda and Komitsa. Shortly after the new port of Roses is the Voulitsa beach which is a beautiful cove with cool water between the mountains. The beach is an organized beach bar with umbrellas and sunbeds.
The Aristotle's Park, a unique theme park of Halkidiki, is located at an altitude of about 500 meters, in the historical village of Stagira, beside the remains of Machalas, the capital of Mademochoria. It is worth visiting for its interesting instruments and the great view to the gulf of Ierissos. The park preexisted and the wonderful location was chosen in 1956 to host the statue of Aristotle, made by sculptor Nicholas, in honor of the great philosopher who was born in Ancient Stagira. The unique interactive instruments were placed there in 2003 by the Municipal Corporation of Stagira-Akanthos. They are experimental instruments, operating by rules of physics that are mentioned in Aristotle’s textbooks and especially in the one called “The Naturals”. With this addition, the park has become a favorite destination for every visitor and school, since it combines recreation, entertainment and education.
THE EXPERIMENTAL INSTRUMENTS
- Compass: It is placed in front of the statue of Aristotle and symbolizes that his philosophy has reached every part of the world, and is a starting point of modern worldwide scientific thought, and belongs to humanity. It displays the direction and distance of the most famous cities in the world, in relation to the park.
- Telescope: Using the modern telescopes placed in specific spots, the visitor can focus on and enjoy details of the fantastic view to the Ierissos gulf and to the Athonite peninsula.
- Prism: The white sunlight passes through the special prism and the famous “colors of the rainbow” are analyzed due to the different speeds of each individual radiation, since each different wavelengthed radiation exits through a different angle.
- Sun clock: The large, horizontal sun clock shows the exact time of the place you are. There is a difference of 1 hour and 25 minutes to the current time during summer and 25 minutes difference during winter. The curved lines on the plate of the clock are for the identification of the current month.
- Lens: The sign next to the lens informs us that every photon, i.e. every minimum amount of light, has little energy by itself, but when every one is concentrated in one spot then that energy becomes greater.
- Pentaphone: It consists of five large pieces of granite that have been calculated to produce a sound of different frequency, a different note. These five notes sound according to the pentaphone ancient scale.
- Optical discs: Experimenting with the optical discs, you will find that when the images pass in front of our visual field with great speed, the human eye does not understand them as different, but it creates a continuous visual whole as if we are watching a movie. This happens because the impression of the image lasts for 1/16 of a second on the optical nerve due to inertia. This quality of the eye is called persistence of vision. Cinema actually depends on the “inability” of the eye to see more than 24 images per second.
- Pendulum: Older people will remember and younger will learn that the energy of one of the systems that initiates the oscillation is transferred to the other due to conjunction. The effect is that the oscillation width is reducing into the first system, while it is increasing into the next.
- Water turbine: By rotating the lever we can create a swirl in the liquid that is contained in the transparent container, and understand the physics of the phenomenon, or compare it with the rotation of the wind that creates a tornado.
- Inertia spheres: By playing with the inertia spheres, we are always impressed by the phenomenon of transfer of momentum, when during the first impact, the initial momentum is maintained and is consecutively transferred from the first sphere to the last.
- Parabolic reflectors: They are placed in a straight line with a large distance from each other. If two people stand in front of each one, they can have a conversation even if they whisper. This happens because the transferred through air sound waves, are reflected, their energy is concentrated in the center and the sound ends up amplified in the ears of those participating in the experiment.
It is an old Athonite monastery that was founded in the early 10th century and was destroyed just before 1198. It is located approximately 2km east of Ouranoupoli, just outside the limits of Mount Athos, in a position known as Fragokastro (just 40m outside the borders of Mount Athos). According to data, it seems to be one of the oldest monastic institutions on the Athonite peninsula. It was discovered by a 1984 excavation that took place by archaeologists headed by Joachim Papaggelos. The 10th Ephorate of Byzantine Antiquities is responsible for the archaeological research.
In the excavation site visitors will admire the castle, the towers and mainly the Catholicon of the monastery which is being excavated. The castle consists of five construction phases, all older than 1211. The surface inside the walls is 5,5 acres and the walls had 11 towers –some of which are being restored.
The tower of Prosforio
It belonged to the dependency of Prosforion (today’s Ouranoupoli) the original core of which already belonged to the Vatopediou monastery in 1018. Scattered information regarding what happened to the building is found from sources, since the excavations are not yet finished. It is known that in 1379, the despot of Thessaloniki named John Palaiologos was hosted here, that in an earthquake in 1585 it suffered great damage and that in 1858 it was abandoned –a picture commonly seen at that time in Halkidiki. In addition, it was probably burned in 1821, since there are testimonies that in 1858 it was in a terrible condition and abandoned. Its current form came from the extensive repair and reconstruction that followed.
In 1924, after the exchange of population, refuges from Asia Minor settled in the dependencies and founded Ouranoupoli. Several houses were built over time and gradually joined the building set. In 1928, the couple Joice and Sydney Loch came as members of humanitarian groups. They settled in the tower and offered essential help to the refuges and the victims of the 1932 earthquake.
Antiquities of Ouranopolis
Important antiquities have been discovered in the wider area of Ouranoupoli. A tomb of Roman era was discovered in the position Kokkinocharafo, approximately 1km east of the village. It is on a low hill, near the road that leads to Zygou monastery and the borderline of Mount Athos. The discovery was made in a private property during flattening operations. The finding might not initially impress but it provides a new element of an archaeologically undiscovered area, which is known to be highly populated during the ancient period.
The waterfalls of Varvara
Near the village of Varvara there are two amazing waterfalls in a forest full of taxus, alders, lindens, beeches and wild hazels. Both the location and the feeling of calmness and serenity will make you feel like you have discovered a small paradise.
You will notice the two waterfalls entering the ravine, after you have parked your car. The water leads to Mavrolaka, a river that is the boundary between Olympiada and Varvara. You will see the first waterfall from above, whereas in the second one you will feel its momentum even in the summer. It takes a short walk (5-10 minutes) to discover this wonderful place. Both the wooden bridges and the proper marks on the path contribute to the enjoyment of the unique scenery. It is ideal for families with kids who will be thrilled!