One of the largest and most important settlements in the Municipality of Aristotle is Megali Panagia, known for the Grand Pilgrimage that brings scores of people here every year. The town, with approximately 2,592 residents (2011 Census, GG 3465/B/28.12.2012), is built on the foothills of the “Chtikela” rise. It is 80 km from Thessaloniki. The village was called Revenikia; it acquired its present name in 1928. It is one of the oldest settlements in Halkidiki and is often cited in Byzantine documents kept at Agion Oros; in fact, in a document from 1349 there is a reference to the “castle of Aravenikea” and to a tower. During the Ottoman occupation, it was one of the greatest Mademochoria. In 1821 it was destroyed by the Turks. In 1932 many of its old, lovely houses crumbled during the catastrophic earthquake that struck Ierissos, and some were burned during World War II.
In the past, three streams crossed the settlement, but only one is visible today. A restored, arched stone bridge with a thousand-year history still stands next to the asphalt road, connecting the stream’s banks. The locals are employed in olive farming, livestock breeding, agrotourism, and logging. In the past, there were many builders who worked at Agion Oros, and many weavers.
It should be noted that the settlement got its name from the Great Pilgrimage of 1863, which is about 1.5 km away, but it is not the only monastic compound in the area. Approx. 4 km away on a passable dirt road, there is a convent called Panagia-Fovera Prostasia [Virgin Mary of Awesome Protection]. The oldest church in Megali Panagia is the so-called Panagouda which, according to tradition, was built in 1007 at the highest point of the settlement.
The chapel dedicated to the Assumption of Mary celebrates on 8 September. Another important church is dedicated to Agios Vasileios, built in 1955.