The water drainage system (qanat) of Hortiatis

Mount Hortiatis, well known since antiquity for the quality of its waters played an important role in the human settlements developed around it. The area of Mount Hortiatis -initially known as Kissos- is one of the oldest towns of the region and is inhabited till now.

According to historian Stravon, the King of Thrace Kissis founded on the foothill of the mount the town named Kissos, which is testified by contemporary archaeological findings.

During the classical era, in the 5th - 4th century BC Kassandros founded a homonymous town in the mount. In 315 BC Kassandros transferred the population of that town to the newly then founded Thessaloniki.

Initially, Thessaloniki was based on groundwater to meet the needs of its residents. In Roman times however the population growth and the construction of many baths and public buildings, increased the water demand: the underground waters were no longer sufficient. This is probably the reason why in search for new solutions, the qanat was constructed. Besides, the Romans are famous for the construction of water works. The century old city of Thessaloniki is therefore closely linked to the Hortiatis qanat.

During Byzantine years Hortiatis mount constituted an important monastic centre. In the 11th century, the mountain and the village took their contemporary name after the Venerable Royal Monastery of Hortiatis located in the region.

After the capture of Thessaloniki in 1430, Hortiatis village passed under Ottoman occupation for almost 500 years. Although the public baths of Thessaloniki operated already the since Byzantine times, it was during the Ottoman era that the more grandiose were constructed. The Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi, who visited Thessaloniki in 1623, reports of seeing 300 baths within the city! Obviously the water demand merely for the functioning of these baths was quite high. 

The only surviving Byzantine Bath of Thessaloniki dating 1300 AD and having been in function for 7 centuries until 1940 is Kule Kafe and it is included in the World heritage List. 

Thessaloniki and Hortiatis area are liberated in 1912. Till today Hortiatis village is continuously inhabited. A traditional profession of Hortiatis citizens was the icing, taking into advantage the water abundance in combination with the climate conditions. [5]