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Centuries-old culture

ITAMOS, SITHONIA. This is the name of the tree found atop the mountain of the same name, otherwise known as Dragoudeli (photo at right). This particular specimen is considered to be one of the oldest trees in Greece, if not the oldest, estimated to be at about 2,000 years old. According to P. Constandinidis, a researcher at the Forest Research Institute at the National Foundation for Agricultural Research (ETHIAGE), it was probably just a sapling during the time of Alexander the Great. The tree does not look its age, particularly compared to the black pine tree not far away, which is estimated to be about 300 years old, and whose trunk is so broad that two men cannot join hands around its perimeter. Manor houses There were once over 100 mansions in Halkidiki, none of which were built by the Venetians, as were so many others in Greece. Of these, only 17 are still standing, many in fairly good condition although in need of repair. According to Papangelos, most belonged to the Mt Athos monasteries, built to serve as watchtowers and temporary accommodation in centuries gone by, when Mt Athos monasteries held property throughout Halkidiki. (Today, there are still places that bear the names of some of the monasteries.) The most important and best preserved of these buildings is that in Ouranoupolis, pictured below.