Agios Nikolaos (Sithonia)
Agios Nikolaos sits on the north-eastern top of Sithonia peninsula, smallest east-west diameter of Sithonia.
The village Agios Nikolaos itself is closest to the sea of (Singitikos Gulf, Pyrgos Beach) approximately 1,5 km. away. However, its territory is quite extensive. To the north-east it borders the village of Pyrgadikia at Salonikiou Beach (8 km from Agios Nikolaos). To the north it borders the village of Metangitsi. In the west and south-west it is neighboring the village of Nikiti. To the south it runs up to Armenistis Beach, which is a part of the village of Sarti (approx. 18-20 km from Agios Nikolaos).
Agios Nikolaos' landscapes show a substantial variability.
In the plains east and south-east of the village agriculture predominates with olive trees as the main cultivated plant. Forests are lacking. Toward the south, the Itamos mountain range of Sithonia gain height, and is completely covered with forest. Towards its northeastern extension (Salonikiou Beach) significant parts of the village territory is covered with forests. In all parts of the village territory plains or smooth hill segments are devoted to agriculture.
On the beaches there are hotels and inns ("pensions") as well as individual homes that have been build since 1980s.
A couple of settlements belong to Agios Nikolaos:
- Vourvourou - located 10 km south-east
- Salonikiou Beach - located 8 km north-east
- Ormos Panagias - located 4 km east/south-east, serving as the villages port
Agios Nikolaos was an independent municipality. In 2001 widespread rearrangement of Greek local administrative divisions was undertaken. This resulted in Agios Nikolaos being combined with the municipalty of Sithonia and with the villages of Nikiti, Neos Marmaras, and Metangitsi.
Agios Nikolaos has about 1,883 inhabitants (based on the core village of Agios Nikolaos). Including the settlements of Vourvourou, Salonikiou Beach, and Ormos Panagias, the population is about 2,048 people (all figures according to the Greek Department of Statistics . Almost all inhabitants are indigenous Greeks. After the rise of tourism, some non-Greeks do settle permanently in Agios Nikolaos, for example, Germans, Dutch and Austrians.
During the holiday period population may rise to 10,000.
Traditionally, inhabitants of Agios Nikolaos had two economic mainstays: agriculture and fishery. Agriculture was mostly devoted to olive trees (and olive oil production), wheat, and winery. Fishery was limited to the waters of Singitikos Gulf and adjacent Aegean Sea.
Since 1980s, tourism replaced fishery and agriculture as economic mainstay. Inhabitants have built own hotels, homes, and pensions or sold-off their agricultural land for real estate purposes. Concomitantly, living standards have risen significantly.
The village's history starts back in the 16th century. Other sources (villagers) point back to the 14th century. Little is known through written records. As traditional story-telling recounts, Agios Nikolaos was moved from the sea into the land because of repeated attacks by pirates. Hut this information lacks historic proof. One indicator of the former village position however can be found at Pyrgos Beach, where remains of a watchtower presumably of Byzantine origin can be found.
The ancient city of Singos (giving name to Singitikos Gulf) was located within Agios Nikolaos' territory. It was probably near the Vourvourou bay on Livari peninsula, where an ancient wall of large stones is still visible (Mega Teichos). Individual reports even mention remains of an ancient port at the very same location. No excavation was performed to confirm position and location of ancient Singos and significant remains of buildings are not evident.
Agios Nikolaos has following public facilities:
- police station
- health center (equal to a very small hospital)
- post office
Agios Nikolaos does not have a bank. The nearest bank is located in Nikiti (7 km away).
Agios Nikolaos lies adjacent to the road leading from Nikiti to Sarti (Sithonia west ring) and from Nikiti to Pyrgadikia (semicircular road around Singitikos bay leading east). All roads are covered with concrete or asphalt.
There is no link to a railroad. (Chalkidiki has no railroad at all).
Air traffic is managed by the international airport of Thessaloniki. Bus traffic is the mainstay of public transport in Agios Nikolaos, as is in Chalkidiki and in Greece as a whole. Daily connections to Thessaloniki, Sarti, Polygyros, and Nea Moudania exist. In the summer, at least 3 buses a day do provide transportation, whereas in the winter bus frequency is lower.
Agios Nikolaos is primarily a traditionally built village with characteristic Macedonian architecture. However, a lot of traditional homes and houses have been replaced with modern ones. This is partially due to an higher standard of living as well as to stricter building standard because of earthquake concerns.
Ancient remains worth sightseeing in a strict sense are not existent. However, one may want to take a look at:
- Byzantine watch tower at Pyrgos Beach (only ruins visible)
- Ancient Mega Teichos at Vourvourou (Livari)
Agios Nikolaos is full of noteworthy beaches, as there are:
- Salonikiou Beach
- Pyrgos Beach
- Livrochio Beach
- Latoura Beach
- Lagonisi Beach
- Livari Beach
- Vourvourou Beach
- Karidi Beach
- Zografou Beach
- Galana Nera, a beach located between Diaporos and Agios Isidoros.
Beside the beaches, the bay of Vourvourou has approx. 9 islands giving bay of Vourvourou a lagoon appearance.
- Diaporos Island, largest island, partially inhabited
- Agios Isidoros, the most eastern island
All islands and islands' beaches can only be reached by boat.