Haven of Peace
The Imaret Hotel is tucked away in the old town of Kavala, once an important seaport in the Macedonian region of the Ottoman Empire. There are unique hotels around the world, places that stand out among the luxury end of boutique accommodation, but this one is not just an architectural delight, but a place filled with very special magic.
by Kalliope Rivers
Formerly a madrasa (theological school) for orphans and, one of the most famous among dozen of Imarets strategically placed around the Empire, the school was founded in 1817 by Mahomet Ali, himself an orphan from Kavala and later Pasha of Egypt. Curiously, the building is still owned by the Egyptian government, but the hotel has been very imaginatively converted by the tenants, a Greek Armenian family. The Imaret was built on the site of a 5th century BCE temple to the goddess Artemis, then a Byzantine church, and a mosque after the arrival of the Ottomans in the 15th Century.
The hotel not only incorporates parts of the old city wall, ancient Greek columns and Byzantine arches, but makes use of the 700 students’ and teachers’ sleeping quarters, as well as the ancient kitchens in which bread was baked for the poor of Kavala. The hotel boasts a beautifully designed Hammam as well as an enticing Spa. The emphasis is on quiet (there are only 25 rooms), and attentive personal service. Most of all, with its luxuriant gardens, quietly gurgling fountains and attractive swimming pool, this is a place in which to enjoy an extraordinary range of aesthetic pleasures, while relaxing in an ambiance rich in layers of history that go back over two thousand years.