The city of the sacred spring Arethusa, Chalkis, built along the straits of Euripos traces the etymology of its names to the root of the word Chalkos, which means bronze, and the workshops processing the metal which existed there.
The oldest documentation proving the existence of Chalkis appears in the Homeric Epics and specifically the city is listed in the catalogue of ships in the Iliad (Book 2, 536-541). Elephenor was one of Helen’s the suitors (the woman who became known as the beautiful Helen of Troy). He was King of the Chalcideans, leader of the Abantes from Evia, and according to the epic he was at the head of forty ships, which the lords of the island contributed to the Achaeans’ fleet, as it set out for Troy. The Early Helladic settlement of Manikas (3000-19000 BC) has been identified as prehistoric Chalkis. The fort settlement of Glyfas on the coast of Boeotia, the tholos tomb at Pei, and the chamber burials at Aghia Eleoussa, Panagitsa and Kamares with their rich grave goods are proof of the region's development during the Mycenaean period.
The settlement at Vathrovouni (identified as Kanithos, the acropolis during historic times), is calculated to have been established during the Geometric period (circa 900 BC), to the southeast of the modern town, and this would form the nucleus of the urban web of classical-era Chalkis.
The city or polis had a ruling aristocracy of feudal Ippovotes, despite efforts to impose a tyranny by Phoxos and Antileon. The city took part in the movement to colonise the West, establishing Rhegion and Naxos, in Lower Italy (Magna Graecia) and Olynthus, Torone and Mekyverna in the Northern Aegean. Its important strategic position made it a target for the Athenians, starting from the mid sixth century BC. Chalkis participated in the Second Athenian Confederation, seceded in 446 BC, whereupon Pericles himself, at the head of the Athenian Fleet brought the city to order,
The Euripos phenomenon
This is a phenomenon due to the gravitational pull exerted by the Moon and the Sun on the Earth. Both Aristotle (who died in Chalkis) and Eratosthenes, studied the phenomenon as have many modern scientists from Greece and overseas.
A definitive explanation was provided by Professor Dimitris Aiginitis, according to whom this phenomenon is caused by the difference in the levels of the water in the Northern and Southern Gulf of Evia, in combination with the effect of the moon’s gravitational pull.
This brings about the creation of a regular current, which runs for 22-23 days for approximately six hours towards the North and then back and which alternates four times a day (24 hours 22 min and 2 sec) where the water current velocity reaches 10 miles per hour. The irregular current appears when the Moon and the Sun are in quadrature (at 90 degree angles viewed from the earth) and lasts two to three days. The frequency with which the flow of the current alternates can reach twelve times a day, while its velocity can be one to two miles per hour.
In 410 BC the city revolted once more, fortifying the straits of Euripos and gaining its independence. In 334 BC Chalkis came under Macedonian political influence, whilst in the mid 3rd Century BC, Heracleides the Cretan described the city as an economically powerful city with a Gymnasium, Theatres, two ports and an Agora full of works of art.
During the Roman era, it was the island’s major commercial centre, even though it gradually began to lose its old glory.
During the Byzantine Era Chalkis was fortified with walls and a moat, while in 1082 Alexios I Comnenos allowed the Venetians to use it as a commercial scalo (port).
This was the time when the Jewish community, the Giudecca, began to flourish. In 1204 the town fell to the Crusading Franks and in 1216 it passed into the control of the Venetians.
In 1461, facing the threat of the Turks, the Venetian town of Negroponte, a paraphrase of the name Egripos from the verses of Erotokritos, was fortified even further, in order to deal with the invaders. On July 12th, 1470 it was taken by Mehmed II and the last Bailus was martyred, put to death by being sawn apart in front of the seat of the Latin Patriarch.
The Ottoman town of Agriboz maintained its commercial lustre through the Middle Ages.
In 1699 Morosini and William Koenigsmark failed to capture the town from the Turks.
On April 7, 1833, Hadji Ismael Bey, the representative of the Supreme Porte, handed over Chalkis to Iakovos Neroulos Rizos, representative of Otto, King of Greece.
Today Chalkis is a cosmopolitan town, the administrative and commercial centre for the Prefecture of Evia, and is almost a suburb of Athens, a place where the residents of the Attica basin escape to for recreation and short breaks.
The tidal phenomenon of the waters in the Straits of Euripos is unique worldwide and is a marked feature of the town.
Points of interest:
* The Kara-Baba castle, built by the Turks on the Boeotian shore of Chalkis, in order to increase the town’s defensive capabilities during their 1684 war with the Venetians.
* The Skarimbas Tomb (opposite the entrance to the castle)
* Along the shore: The Town Hall, the Red House, the House with the Statues
* The Church of Aghios Nikolaos
* Public Central Library
* Municipal Gallery
* Art Workshop and the Church of Aghios Dimitrios
* The Kriezotis Mansion, where the General Archives of the State of Evia are located
* The tower of the siren (remnant of the town’s medieval fortifications)
* Court House
* The collections of the Archaeological Museum of Chalkis, a conservation-grade house dating from the turn of the 20th century holds exhibits from excavations that took place at Varka, Manika, Tharrounia, from the large and important Classical and Hellenistic period cemeteries of Chalkis, coins from various periods from all parts of the island, grave and votive statues in the round from the Archaic up to the Roman eras, as well as inscriptions from archaeological investigations throughout the island.
* The mosque of Emir Zade and the marble water fountain that dates from the same time.
* The House on Paidon Street
* The Early Christian Basilica of Aghia Paraskevi
* The Residence of the Bailus of Chalkis
* The School of Infantry
* The bay of Vourkos (known as Vourkarion in the Byzantine Era) has the few remaining boat-yards
* The Roman Palaestra (arena)
* The spring of Arethusa
* Industrial Architecture: The Georgiadis building and the Arethusa Winery
* Vathrovouni Shaft graves and Acropolis
* A Macedonian tomb and an altar in the Aghios Stefanos region.
* Kamares – The arches of the Venetian aqueduct
* Folklore Museum, which is housed in the sole remnant of the renowned medieval city walls
* The Railway Station
* The two Tetartokyklia (Quarter-circles), what remains currently of fortress islet in the middle of the Euripus, one of which has been turned into a refreshment centre.
* The Port of Chalkis
* The Municipal Market, a conservation-grade architectural complex dating from the latter part of the 19th century
* Manika and Glyfa
* Chalkis beaches: Asteria and Rodies on the Boeotian coast. Souvala, Kurenti, Papathanassiou, Liani Ammos.
* Riding Club at Pei, with great facilities and a café.