More than 1.000 residents live under the shadow of the impressive tower of Prosforio. Ouranoupoli might be the last place the visitor headed to Mount Athos passes through, but its name has nothing to do with the fact that it is a “gate” to the monastic state. It was named after the Alexandrian city, founded in 315 B.C. by Alexarchos, son of Antiparos and brother to Kassandros. The city was built on top of the ruins of Sani, a colony of Andrians, which was totally destroyed by Philip II. Some preserved coins are signed “OURANIAS POLEOS” and others “OURANIDON POLEOS” and have a representation of Ourania Aphrodite, sat on a sphere on one side and the sun with eight rays on the other.
During summer the accommodations, as well as the beaches, fill with visitors. Most tourists also visit the islands of Ammouliani and Drenia, as well as the famous Zygou monastery, located 2km away from Ouranoupoli (distance easily covered on foot). The archaeological site is well organized and visiting the natural border to the settlement of Athos is an experience not to be missed. Ouranoupoli is 120km from Thessaloniki, and is a vibrant state all year round. Men pilgrims travel by ship from the small port of the tower of Prosforio (after they have been given the proper permission from the Mount Athos office) to Daphne, the seaport of Mount Athos.
HISTORICAL DATA ABOUT THE REGION
The first monasteries in Athos peninsula were founded in the 10th century. One of them is the Zygou monastery, or Fragokastro, in which St. Athanasios the Athonite, founder of Megistis Lavras monastery lived almost a year. This monastery, which is lately being reconstructed, has the great privilege of being the only one outside Mount Athos, therefore, it can be visited by women. In early 14th century, the Vatopediou monastery built the byzantine tower located in the SW corner of the village for the protection of the dependency. It is the largest and best preserved in Halkidiki. In 19th century, after the earthquake, the last floor was demolished. It was then that it was repaired and took its final form. At the same time, its supporting buildings were built.
After the Asia Minor disaster, refuges from the islands of Marmaras in Propontida, arrived at the village and settled in the tower, the nearby buildings and in tents. In 1926, a German company built the first houses of the village, some of which are still preserved. Later, residents built the church and the school, and a community under the name of “Prosforion” started to form, later named “Pyrgos” and around 1960 it took its final name as “Ouranoupoli”.
In 1928, the pair of Loch who settled in the tower became a part of the life in the village. The pair’s cooperation, using designs copied from monasteries’ codes, together with women familiar with the art of weaving, laid the foundations for a local industry that gave work to many families.