|The second largest island in Greece, mountainous Evia, is long and
narrow, stretching over the Aegean Sea alongside the shores of mainland
Greece, separated from it by the Gulf of Evia and the Straits of Evripos.
It is often seen as merely an adjunct to the mainland it hugs so closely.
Even the capital Chalkida, canít seem to make up its mind and clings to
both island and mainland.
|The capital Chalkida is linked to the mainland, by an old-fashioned swing
bridge and a modern suspended bridge, which is part of the motorway
from Athens. The city also hosts the terminal rail station of the northern
suburban train of Attica.
Ferries run regularly from Rafina to Evia's southern port of Karystos, while
numerous other ferry connections exist in minor crossing points along
the islandís coast.
| The ancient history of the island is characterized by the great rivalry
between its two most important cities: Chalkida (or Chalkis) and Eretria.
The two cities fought a succession of wars for control over the Lilantian
plain, the plain that separates them, out of which Chalkida emerged
victorious about the end of the 8th century BC. During the 7th and 6th
century the prosperous cities of Evia sent out colonists to populated the
Asia Minor, Southern Italy, Sicily and the region of Macedonia which is still
called Chalkidiki. About the mid-5th century BC, the Athenians had
placed the island under their control and they began settling it, thus
creating long lasting bonds between the two regions.
In 191 BC, Evia yielded to Rome and followed a period of decline, which
was continued under Byzantine rule. After the dissolving of the Byzantine
Empire in 1205, it was taken over by the Franks and the Venetians, who
kept it until 1470 when it was passed on to the Turks. Since the beginning
of the Greek revolt of 1821 the Turkish garrisons in the islandís fortresses
where posing strong resistance and it was not until 1830 that the Sultan
allowed the island to become part of the first modern Greek state.
| The Evripos Channel in Chalkida is surely Eviaís most noteworthy sight,
and boasts a 2500-year pedigree as a tourist attraction thanks to the odd
combination of land and currents, which make the tide change eight times
a day. Since the building of the first bridge over the 30-meter wide
narrows, in the 5th century BC, people have wondered over the
phenomenon. Aristotle is reputed to have thrown himself into the sea in
exasperation at his inability to explain it. Signs of antiquity are not very
evident in the modern city and archaeology fans should head to the
Archaeological Museum, which houses findings from all over the island.
The remains of ancient Eretria offer better sightseeing. One can still see
the cityís ancient theatre, the foundations of several important houses and
sections of public buildings, complete with the best-preserved archaic
period gate in Greece.
There is something of interest to be seen at every turn in Evia. Towns
brisk with tourist traffic and peaceful villages, apparently forgotten by
time, wait to be discovered. Going north - west we will come to Steni,
one of the mounts tourist resorts of Evia. The difference shades of green,
the steep mountains and the running streams together with the
hospitality of the local people are the elements that will make you visit
|Chalkida has a good sporting infrastructure, complete with a municipal
stadium and an indoor sports hall. For water sports head to one of the
plentiful organized tourist resorts. Most cheerful are those of Limni to the
north and Eretria to the southern half of Evia. The surfers meeting point
in the island is the hillside resort of Kymi, set on the eastern part of the
island, facing the open Aegean Sea.
The northern Evian town of Edipsos is Greeceís premier spa-town, which
has emerged as a popular holiday destination since the late 19th century.
Today it has modern spa accommodations and installations for hydrotherapeutic
purposes. To the north there are also wooded mountainsides
where mountain climbers can enjoy themselves as much as they opt.
|Chalkida is the favourite place of those enjoying seafood. The town
is famous for its grilled octopus as well as for the varieties of shells
and fishes, enjoyed better with a good quantity of ouzo. For a taste
of the local artistry in cooking meat visit the mountain villages of Drifi
to the north. Chalkida serves also as the main commercial centre of
the region and it is the best place for shopping any kind of goods and
in particular the locally produced honey, figs and splendid olive oil.
|Modern life in Evia thrives alongside splendidly preserved traditions.
All over the island there are picturesque country fairs where genuine
local customs survive.
|Evia is that close to the mainland that one may not except to see any
distinct characteristics in its inhabitants culture and lifestyle. Even so,
living on this mountainous island was never too easy; in fact the
islanders were totally depending on the disadvantaged agriculture and
coal mining to get by until the recent development of tourism. This
may well explain the fact that life here has remained simple, and that
people are originally openhearted and unpretending.
|The waterfront of Chalkida is very popular among young people for
both day and night entertainment. Nevertheless, in Evia you will not
find much noisy nightlife, apart from some bar and clubs in and
around Chalkida and some other resorts. Eviaís short distance from
Athens attracts mainly week-enders seeking some relaxations along
the beautiful beaches and fresh air in the leafy mountainside resorts,
but above all some peace and quite away from the city bustle.
|The island caters for both winter and summer tourism, offering the
best environment for those who wish to combine business with
pleasure and relaxation. Chalkida and Eretria have the best-equipped
hotels for conferences, providing also a range of auxiliary services to
ensure success of all types of meetings.