Chalcis (//; Ancient Greek & Katharevousa: Χαλκίς, Chalkís) or Chalkida (Modern Greek: Χαλκίδα, [xalˈciða]) is the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, situated on the Euripus Strait at its narrowest point. The name is preserved from antiquity and is derived from the Greek χαλκός (copper, bronze), though there is no trace of any mines in the area. In the late Middle Ages, it was known as Negropont(e), an Italian name that has also been applied to the entire island of Euboea.
The earliest recorded mention of Chalcis is in the Iliad, where it is mentioned in the same line as its rival Eretria. It is also documented that the ships set for the Trojan War gathered at Aulis, the south bank of the strait nearby the city. Chamber tombs at Trypa and Vromousa dated to the Mycenaean period were excavated by Papavasiliou in 1910. In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, colonists from Chalcis founded thirty townships on the peninsula of Chalcidice and several important cities in Magna Graecia, such as Naxos, Rhegion and Cumae. Its mineral produce, metal-work, purple and pottery not only found markets among these settlements, but were distributed over the Mediterranean in the ships of Corinth and Samos.
With the help of these allies, Chalcis engaged the rival league of its neighbour Eretria in the so-called Lelantine War, by which it acquired the best agricultural district of Euboea and became the chief city of the island. Late in the 6th century BC, its prosperity was broken by a disastrous war with the Athenians, who expelled the ruling aristocracy and settled a cleruchy on the site. Chalcis subsequently became a member of both the Delian Leagues.
Chalkis has had a Greco-Jewish presence since antiquity, which is sometimes claimed to have been continuous and to thus form Europe's oldest Jewish community, although there is no evidence of it through the early Middle Ages.
In the Hellenistic period, it gained importance as a fortress by which the Macedonian rulers controlled central Greece. It was used by kings Antiochus III of Syria (192 BC) and Mithradates VI of Pontus (88 BC) as a base for invading Greece.
Under Roman rule, Chalcis retained a measure of commercial prosperity within the province of Achaea (the southern half of Greece).
Middle Ages and early Modern period
It is recorded as a city in the 6th-century Synecdemus and mentioned by the contemporary historian Procopius of Caesarea, who recorded that a movable bridge linked the two shores of the strait. In Byzantine times, Chalcis was usually called Euripos, a name also applied to the entire island of Euboea, although the ancient name survived in administrative and ecclesiastical usage until the 9th century; alternatively, it is possible that the name was given anew to a settlement that was founded in the 9th century in the location of the ancient city, after the latter had been abandoned in the early Middle Ages. The town survived an Arab naval raid in the 880s and its bishop is attested in the 869–70 Church council held at Constantinople.
For Westerners, its common name was Negropont or Negroponte. This name comes indirectly from the Greek name of the Euripus Strait: the phrase στὸν Εὔριπον 'to Evripos', was rebracketed as στὸ Νεὔριπον 'to Nevripos', and became Negroponte in Italian by folk etymology, the ponte 'bridge' being interpreted as the bridge of Chalcis to Boeotia.
The town was a condominium between Venice and the Veronese barons of the rest of Euboea, known as the "triarchs", who resided there. Chalcis or Negroponte became a Latin Church diocese, see below. A large hoard of late medieval jewellery dating from Venetian times was found in Chalcis Castle in the nineteenth century and is now in the British Museum. The synagogue dated to around 1400.
Negroponte played a significant role in the history of Frankish Greece, and was attacked by the Principality of Achaea in the War of the Euboeote Succession (1257/8), the Catalan Company in 1317, the Turks in 1350/1, until it was finally captured by the Ottoman Empire after a long siege in 1470. That siege is the subject of the Rossini opera Maometto II. The Ottomans made it the seat of the Admiral of the Archipelago (the Aegean Islands). In 1688, it was successfully held by the Ottomans against a strong Venetian attack.
The modern town
Chalkida became part of the newborn Greek state after the Greek War of Independence. The modern town received an impetus in its export trade from the establishment of railway connection with Athens and its port Piraeus in 1904. In the early 20th century it was composed of two parts—the old walled town at the bridge over the Euripus, where a number of Turkish families continued to live until the late 19th century, and a sizeable Jewish community lived until World War II, and the more modern suburb that lies outside it, chiefly occupied by Greeks.
The Byzantine diocese of Chalkis was initially a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Corinth, but in the 9th century was transferred to the Metropolitan of Athens, remaining in the sway of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It was also known as Euripo, like it's mentioned in the Byzantine imperial Notitia Episcopatuum since emperor Leo VI the Wise (886-912).
Several of its Greek bishops are recorded, but some disputed :
Latin crusader bishopric
At the establishment of the crusader state Lordship of Negroponte, Chalcis or Negroponte (seat of the central one of its three 'triarchies') constituent baronies) became a Latin Church diocese, the first bishop being Theodorus, the Greek bishop of the see, who entered communion with the see of Rome, installed by papal legate.
On 8 February 1314, the Latin see was united in commendam (as an 'additional benefice') with the Latin Patriarchate of Constantinople, so that the exiled Patriarch, excluded from Constantinople itself since the Byzantine reconquest of the city, could have actual jurisdiction on Greek soil and exercise a direct role as head of the Latin clergy in what remained of Latin Greece.
Titular Latin see
The diocese was nominally restored (18the century?) Titular archbishopric of Chalcis (Latin) / Calcide (Curiate Italian), and as such had the following incumbents, of the then fitting Archiepiscopal (intermediary) rank with an episcopal (lower) exception at the apparent start:
In 1925 it was demoted as Titular bishopric of Chalcis (Latin) / Calcide (Italian) and in December 1933.12 renamed as Titular bishopric of Chalcis in Græcia (Latin) / Calcide di Grecia (Italian) / Chalciden(sis) in Græcia (Latin adjective). It is vacant as such since decades, having had a single incumbent of the now fitting Episcopal (lowest) rank :
The church of Saint Paraskevi (the patron saint of the island) was the church of the Dominican Priory of Negroponte, one of the first two houses authorized for the Order of Preachers' Province of Greece in 1249. Started about 1250, this is among the oldest examples of early Dominican architecture surviving, and is one of the only early Dominican churches to retain its original form until the present. The central arch over the iconostasis and the ceiling and walls of the south chapel are the best examples of Italian Gothic stone-carving in Greece. Images of the Dominican saints, Dominic and Peter Martyr, stand at the base of the central arch. The north chapel holds the tomb of the founder of the senatorial Lippamano family of Venice. Some of the column capitals are Byzantine.
The town is now connected to the mainland Greece by two bridges, the "Sliding Bridge" in the west at the narrowest point of the Euripus Strait and a suspension bridge.
The Euripus Strait which separates the city and the island from the mainland was bridged in 411 BC with a wooden bridge. In the time of Justinian the fixed bridge was replaced with a movable structure. The Turks replaced this once again with a fixed bridge. In 1856, a wooden swing bridge was built; in 1896, an iron swing bridge, and in 1962, the existing "sliding bridge"; the construction works of the 19th century destroyed the most part of the medieval castle built across the bridge. The Euripus Bridge or Chalcis Bridge, a cable-stayed suspension bridge opened in 1993, joins Chalcis to the mainland to the south.
The municipality Chalcis was formed at the 2011 local government reform by the merger of Chalcis city itself with four former municipalities, which also became municipal units :
The municipality has an area of 424.766 km2, the municipal unit 30.804 km2.
In 2003, a bypass of Chalcis was opened from the southern part of the bridge to connect with GR-77, also with access to GR-44.
The Chalkida football team merged with Lilas Vasilikou for a period of two years (2004–2006). The team was finally dissolved because of financial difficulties. Although there was a team created with the same name (AOX) it does not represent the glorious team of the past.
Chalcis also has a basketball team (AGEX), which previously played in the Greek A2 Basketball League. For a while, Chalkida hosts the basketball team Ikaros Chalkidas that played in the top Greek Basket League.
Twin towns—Sister cities
Chalcis is twinned with: