Ancient Olynthos

Ancient Olynthos

History

Between Kassandra and Sithonia peninsula, in a distance of 11,5 km from the town of Potidea, ancient town Olynthos is located. Built on two hills, it is considered a major historical site of Halkidiki.

According to tradition, Ancient Olynthos was built by Olynthos, the son of Hercules and nymph Volvi or in another version, son of the river God Strimona. According to famous historian Herodotus the town was established by Bottiaeans, residents of Imathia, who were expelled from their region by western Macedonians, and were then settled on the southern hill, in the region of ancient Olynthos in the middle of 7th century B.C. The name "Olynthos" is prohellenic and means "wild fig". 

In 479 B.C. the town is destroyed by Persians and its residents are being slaughtered. Then Olynthos is given in Halkideans. After the persian wars, Olynthos became a member of Athenian league. In 440 B.C. the town breaks away from the alliance and the king of Macedonians, Perdikas II, convinces many residents of seafront towns of Halkidiki to defect from the alliance and settle in town Olynthos.

Then, Olynthos becomes the capital of Chalkidean league, an association of 32 Halkidiki cities, and gains great development and strength. Due to the overpopulation the town spreads to the northern hill.

But the rapid growth of the town will not last long. Philip II, father of Alexander the great, feels threatened by Olynthos strength. On the occasion of Olynthians refusal to give over Philip 's brother, who found shelter in Olynthos, Philip sieges and plunders the town and in 348 B.C. it is completely destroyed. Residents, held as hostages, are sold as slaves and the town no longer recovers. 

 

Architecture

Excavations have shown that Ancient Olynthos was built according to famous Hipodamio system, with wide horizontal and vertical roads, that formed rectangular building blocks. All houses had internal patios and some had a second floor. Some even had mosaic floors with pictorial representations. These mosaic floors are saved today and are very interesting to observe as they are some of the oldest mosaic floors preserved in Greece. Ancient Olynthos town also had excellent sewer and irrigation networks.  

Today, there is an archaeological museum in Ancient Olynthos region, with all archaeological findings. Visitors can also watch an audiovisual tour, that tries to depict as accurately as possible the picture of the town as it once were.

You can get to the site, located in the northern eastern side of Olynthos village, by car. It is 80 km way from the town of Thessaloniki. Take the chance to admire the neat urban planning of the city and the mosaic floors and don 't forget to make a visit to Olynthos museum. History lovers will be more than excited about this excursion.