Parthenonas – Sithonia Center
If you go to Parthenonas on a cold winter morning, you will very probably see the place surrounded by fog. This is not only a physical phenomenon. There is also a historical fog covering the area which concerns the ancient roots of Parthenonas and its modern history. The area is first mentioned as Parthenopolis, by Herodotus in its description of the Greek colonies of Chalkidiki.
If there was an ancient city there we do not have any more clues. Nevertheless, a sanctuary, possibly of Zeus, was excavated some years ago on a peak of Mt. Itamos close to modern Parthenonas, yielding interesting findings.
The next reference of the place is in Byzantine sources. There should be a little village in the area, however modern archeologists doubt whether is was at the exact location as modern Parthenonas. One way or another, modern Parthenonas was established in its current position sometime during the Ottoman period. Little is known about the history of Parthenonas during that period. It should have been a small village not commonly mentioned in the sources. There should be times when the place was totally abandoned. People used to move from one place to another those hard times and little villages like Parthenonas were frequently abandoned and inhabited again.
Nevertheless, Parthenonas was an active little settlement after the end of the Ottoman rule and was facing with optimism the new era. There were schools, churches, clean water. Facilities which are common to modern people but not standard at those times. There were the beautiful stone houses as well. Built on a slope of Itamos, Parthenonas was a picturesque village.
Times changed rapidly though. The local economy of Sithonia started to shift towards tourism especially after the 60s. Parthenonas was the only mountainous village and survival become difficult. Then the resort in Porto Carras opened and new jobs were created. The inhabitants started to move in Neos Marmaras, seeking better prospects for their lives. Gradually the place was abandoned. The old stone houses were left unattended and most of them collapsed. For several years Parthenonas was once more a ghost town. Then some foreigners, who happened to be there exploring Mt Itamos, were amazed by the place and thought to settle down. In the begging a restaurant opened, then a hotel opened in an restored house. During the nineties more people arrived, some of them to restore their new houses, some others as new owners. Now the old ghost town, is brimming with life again. Many houses have been restored; there are all season hotels and tavernas, a folklore museum and even operating churches.
Parthenonas is different. You would not expect finding something like it in Sithonia. It has easy access from Neos Marmaras after about 6km of serpentine road. It is a nice place for families. There are tavernas, good hotels and excellent spots for family photos featuring the island of Kelyfos and the Toroneos gulf on the background. However, if you are only the two of you and have an all road car or good athletic shape, you shouldn’t miss the change to explore Mt Itamos which is a mostly unknown mountain. Go to its top on a cold cloudless morning and admire the mighty Athos. Even some of the north Aegean islands are visible on such a day. Ride down towards its north east slopes to see the view of Vourvourou bay and its ring of islands. Follow the road to St. Paul little church and relax under the old plane trees.
Parthenonas is worth a visit. Give it a try and you won’t miss!