Interpreting the Local Development through the History of the Place: The Example of Nigrita (Visaltia, Greece)

Interpreting the Local Development through the History of the Place: The Example of Nigrita (Visaltia, Greece)

Sidiropoulos Georges (Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, Mytilene, Greece)
DOI: 10.4018/ijsesd.2014100106
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The city of Nigrita is located in Visaltia, the valley of the Strymon, in Eastern Macedonia wich in the past was an active shareholder of Greek history. The text tries to explain the current situation through the time. The approach involves both the city of Nigrita -and Visaltia- the region in which it grows, from the time of first appearance until today. The town appears for the first time in the 15th century and quickly evolves into village and then in a strong town. In an area with a significant presence in Classical and Byzantine periods, the city meets the conditions to be established. The determining factor for its establishment is the change of traffic policy during the Ottomanic occupation, which choose the mountain shortcuts instead of the Roman style traffic through lowland axes. Developed ex nihilo, at the area of this node in the old Roman road system, the city of Nigrita serves one of the main intersections in the valley of Serres to Thessaloniki. Since then, the growth of the city is continuous until two decisive events in the early 20th century. The first one, concerns the change in traffic policy of New Greek State, which sets new routes that bypass the city. The second fact is linked with the transformation of Nigrita's geographical situation, decisively altered by the draining of lake Kerkinida, making the city part of a mandatory central corridor in a typical city in an open plain. Since then, the city has a very slow and declining growth, because of certain particularities and also the general situation of the Greek periphery. The text seeks to understand and interpret the present city, through data in-city and regional scale, attempting to study-specified cross sections in the historical geography of the place.
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Methodological Approach

The study of Visaltia and Nigrita is an effort to investigate, through historical geography, how a flourishing provincial town of 19th century gradually degrades during 20th century.

Historical data relating to the object of the study highlight four historical sections. The first concerns the Classical era, the second one the late Byzantine and Ottoman period, the third focuses on the pre-industrial era of Ottoman rule and the last one is the period after the establishment of the new Greek state.

In the first two periods the identity of the entire region of Visaltia emerges, while the following periods focus on urban scale in the ctown of Nigrita and its transformation from a small town to a bigger one.

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