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Chalcis or Chalkida, Halkida, Halkis or Chalkis (Greek, Modern: Χαλκίδα pronounced [xal'ciđa], Ancient/Katharevousa: -ίς), the chief town of the island of Euboea in Greece, is situated on the strait of the Evripos 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.
The earliest recorded mention of Chalcis is in the Iliad (2.537), where it is mentioned in the same line as its rival Eretria. Chamber tombs at Trypa and Vromousa dated to the Mycenaean period were excavated by Papvasileion 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 Sicily. 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. Early 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.
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.
Parade at the town centreThe modern town received an impetus in its export trade from the establishment of railway connection with Athens and Peiraeus in 1904. In the early 20th century it was composed of two parts—the old walled town towards the Euripus, called the Castro (ie. the Castle), where the Jewish and Turkish families dwelt; and the more modern suburb that lies outside it, which is chiefly occupied by the Greeks. A part of the walls of the Castro and many of the houses within it were shaken down by the earthquake of 1894; part has been demolished in the widening of the Euripus. The most interesting object is the church of Saint Paraskevi, which was once the chief church of the Venetians; it dates from the Byzantine period, though many of its architectural features are Western. In 1899, Chalcis became the prefectural capital of Euboea.
At the start of the 21st century, Chalcis had about 100,000 inhabitants. The old walls, near the Castro of Kara-Baba (Turkish, "Black Father") near the sea no longer stand. The sizable Jewish community was reduced after the World War II deportation.
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 (sometime after 1453) 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 cable stay suspension bridge which joins Chalcis to the mainland to the south was opened in 1993.