Jewish Heritage Tour of Chalkis

Information – Photo Gallery – Itinerary

Chalkis or Chalkida, also called Negroponte and Egripon by the Venetians, is a modern town, with a population of approximately 60.000 inhabitants. It is the capital of the island of Evia, which is located about 90 km. (56 miles) northeast of Athens. Its present Jewish population consists of 35 souls.Jewish Tour Chalkis

Two plausible hypotheses have been expressed about the town’s name: According to the first one, the name Chalkis derives from the Semitic root “chalek”, which means “to split up”. In fact, the island of Evia is indeed separated from the mainland by the gulf of Evia and the Euripus Channel, which, at the point of the bridge, is 40 meters (131 feet) wide and 8,5 meters (28 feet) deep. The Euripus Channel is famous for its tidal phenomenon, which is unique in Greece. Its peculiarities were studied by the great philosopher Aristotle, who actually died in Chalkis in 322 B.C.E. The second hypothesis suggests that the city’s name comes from the Phoenician word “kalchi”, which means “purple”. That refers to the famous ‘’Tyrian purple’’ color, as the Phoenicians and the Jews who first came to Chalkis were involved in trade with Tyre and Sidon in Lebanon exporting murex shells used in the making of purple dyes. The first Jews arrived in Chalkis during the early Hellenistic period (4th century B.C.E.). Their descendants still live there today. Therefore, the Romaniote Jewish Community of Chalkis may not be the oldest one in Greece, but it is the only one in Europe that has been living in the same city for 2,500 years without interruption! Jewish Tour Chalkis

The prominent Jewish sites of Chalkis are : A beautiful Romaniote Synagogue with arched windows built in 1855, a pre-war Jewish Cemetery, an impressive Holocaust Memorial, and three statues of Colonel Mordechai Frizis, a native Jew and the 1st Greek officer who was killed in action during the Greco-Italian war of 1940 -41.

Below you will find a suggested itinerary for a full day tour of Chalkis. Bear in mind that it can be modified in order to accommodate your needs and preferences.

For example: On the way to Chalkis, we can make a short stop to visit the Holocaust Memorial dedicated to the 67.000 Greek Jews who perished at the Nazi death camps from 1943 to 1945. The Memorial is located at the courtyard of the post-war Jewish cemetery of Athens (there is no problem for Cohanim since there are no graves at the courtyard).

Photo Gallery [hover for captions]


Itinerary example

08:30 – Pick-up from the Hotel
08:30 – 09:00 Transfer to the post-war Jewish Cemetery in Athens
09:00 – 09:15 Pictures of the Holocaust Memorial
09:15 – 10:15 Transfer to Chalkis
10:15 – 11:00 Guided visit of the beautiful Romaniote Synagogue
11:00 – 11:30 Walk to the promenade by the sea
11:30 – 11:45 Transfer to the Jewish Cemetery and the Holocaust Memorial
11:45 – 12:15 Visit the Cemetery and the Holocaust Memorial
12:15 – 12:30 Transfer to Artaki
12:30 – 13:20 Coffee/lunch
13:20 – 14:30 Return to Athens/Piraeus Port or transfer to the airport