Footsteps of the Apostle Paul – Kavala

“Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis…” Acts 16:11 RSV

I recently returned from an overseas trip where I went to Greece, Turkey, France and Italy.

This as designed as a bit of a religious pilgrimage.  The trip to Greece and Turkey saw me undertake a tour called, ‘Footsteps of the Apostle Paul’, where we went various locations throughout Greece and part of Turkey that Paul visited.  I’ll endeavour to share my learnings from this trip, as well as a bit on each location, in due course.

One of the places we visited was a town called Kavala.  Kavala is the second biggest Macedonian city, with a population of about 80,000.  It is 160 kilometres from Thessaloniki (known as Thessalonica in the Bible).  The ancient name of this city was Neapolis, but it was renamed Christoupolis in the middle ages before becoming known as Kavala around the 15th Century AD.

Ancient Neapolis was colonised by the Greeks in the 5th Century B.C.  The Ancient philosopher Aristotle was also born nearby in the region.

In the book of Acts, Paul travels with Luke to Macedonia (this is the first time Acts uses the first person plural ‘we’, except in one manuscript).  This reads as follows:
“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak to word in Asia.  And when they have come opposite Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them; so passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” And when he had see the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.  Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Phillipi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedonia, and a Roman colony.” Acts 16:6-12 RSV

This makes Neapolis (now Kavala) popular as being the first place that Paul set foot on land in Europe.

We visited the place believed to be the place where Paul set foot off the boat.  This is a fair way from the water level today, as the water level was apparently much higher back then (or so our tour guide claimed).  There, they have the mosaic pictured above of the Apostle Paul, which shows him having the vision of the Macedonian man and then stepping foot on land at Kavala.

There is a church at this location also (almost all the churches in Greece are Orthodox, though some Catholic churches do exist) dedicated to Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of Seafarers. There are several churches dedicated to St Nicholas in Greece, especially on the islands.

It was interesting to see this place.  It felt very relaxed, similar to how Postiano felt in Italy when I visited there a few years ago.

I purchased a few things at Kavala:

  • Worry beads – a typical secular Greek item used to help with stress and quitting smoking, which seem to have derived from the komboskini (Jesus Prayer beads / ropes used by the Church)
  • An icon of the Apostle Paul – A little reminder of Paul from Greece.
  • A book called, ‘Paul The Apostle of the Gentiles: Journeys in Greece’ My tour guide told me after I had purchased this that she thinks this is a very good book.
  • Some post cards of the area.
We weren’t at Kavala for too long, so it is difficult for me to say how much there is to view.  It looks as though there is an ancient fortress and aqueduct there, but outside of the Church, Mosaic and a brief souvenir trip, we didn’t do much else while we were there.  It was interesting though to have seen the place first visited by Paul in Europe.

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