Halkidiki

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Halkidiki, also Chalkidiki, Chalcidice or Chalkidike (Greek: Χαλκιδική), is a peninsula in the eastern part of the province of Greek Macedonia, Northern Greece, and is one of the regional units of Greece. The autonomous Mount Athos region constitutes the easternmost part of the peninsula, but not of the regional unit. The capital of Chalkidiki is the main town of Polygyros, located in the centre of the peninsula.
The first Greek settlers in this area came from Chalcis and Eretria, cities in Euboea, around the 8th century BC who founded cities such as Mende, Toroni and Scione; a second wave came from Andros in the 6th century BC. The ancient city of Stageira was the birthplace of the great philosopher Aristotle. During the Peloponnesian War, Chalkidiki was an important war theatre between Athens and Sparta. Later, the south 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 Macedonians and Romans, the region became part of the Roman Empire, such as the rest of Greece.

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. The next years, with the support of Nikephoros II Phokas, the Great Lavra monastery was founded. Athos with its monasteries is since then self-governed until nowadays.

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