Kavala, in north eastern Greece (up near Turkey), is the second largest city of the large nomos (prefecture) of Thrace (Thraki), with a population of around 65,000, and the second largest port in northern Greece, after Thessaloniki.
Situated at the head of a bay, it rises on the slopes of Mandra Kari, one of the foothills of Mt. Simvilon. It is most attractive seen from the sea, with its old citadel and the colorful Panayia quarter on the rocky promontory that projects into it. The town was known in ancient times as Neopolis, settled around the 7th century BC and was the chief port of Philippi, serving travelers en route to Europe from the Holy Lands, or from other points in the Levant, and a terminus point on the Via Egnatia. It was also a major shipping point for gold and silver, mined in the area. During Byzantine times the town was called Christoupolis.
It was burned by the Normans during their march to Constantinople in 1185 (an event recorded in an inscription from the kastro wall) and later laid waste to by the Catalans and Serbs in the early 14th century AD, and the Ottoman Turks in 1385. The long list of occupiers also include Byzantines, Franks, and Venetians. It acquired the name Kavala in the 15th century., and during the first quarter of the 16th century, Jewish settlers from Hungary sparked an economic resurgence and the consequent expansion of the city beyond the walled quarter on the promontory. The name Kavala may have come from a an earlier name for the town-- Bucephalos, the name of Alexander the Great's Horse-- since the word 'kavalla' in Greek means 'bestride' or 'on horseback', deriving in turn from the Latin word for 'horse'-'cavallo'. - During the 16th century Suleyman the Magnificent had new walls built around the expanded city and port, as well as the aqueduct, which remains in the modern city. By the late 17th century Kavala was an impressive city with a busy port, a series of domed mosques, and two-storey stone houses; by the late 1700s, it engaged in trade with Marseilles.
During the early 19th century, the father of Mehmet Ali built a large mansion on the heights of the Panayia quarter, and the Imaret complex, which had 13 domes, which housed an Islamic theological academy called Mendreses, as well as a poorhouse. With the coming of the Greek Independence and the foundation of the Greek nation in the south in 1830, Thracens began pushing for independence, taking over control of the harbor and building churches, with liberation from the Turks coming finally in 1912-13. The city was occupied by the Bulgarians three times (1912-13; 1916-18, and 1942-44). Mehmet Ali was born here, son of an Albanian farmer, who became pasha of Egypt and founder of the dynasty that ruled until the time of King Farouk.