Visaltia is an ancient country of Macedonia that was a continuation of Christonia (Ancient country – province of Macedonia) and that extended from Mount Vertisco to the river Strymona, which currently are the areas of Sochos and Nigrita. The Kingdom of Visaltia used to extend over the whole Chalkidiki.
The main towns of Visaltia were Argilos (across from Strymonikos gulf), Kerdylion (opposite Amphipolis), Ossa (across from Socho) and Verga (hometown of the comic poet Antiphanes).
Christonia extended northeast of Mygdonia, south of Paionia and Maidiki, and west of Visaltia [despite the sources of the river Echedorus (Echedorus’s current name is Gallikos), i.e. from Mount Dysoros to Vertisco].
At first, Christonia and Visaltia were both under an autonomous King. However, after the defeat of the Persians in the Battle of Plataea, both Christonia and Vistonia were conquered by Alexander I and became provinces of the Macedonian Kingdom, until the Roman conquest in 168 BC.
The only thing that the ancient writers mention of Christonia is only its capital, Kristona (Kriston). However, writers from later years include the one in Mygdonia with the cities of Antigoneia, Xylopolis, Terpylos, Karavia and Gynaikokastro.
Nigrita is located 22 km outside the city of Serres. It has approximately 10,000 inhabitants and is built in an extremely fertile area irrigated by the Strymonas river. Every spring, in the first week after Easter, the Gerakina festival is staged in Nigrita. “Gerakina”, the well-known folk song, has its roots there. Nigrita is a town in the prefecture of Serres, Macedoniaand the headquarters of the municipality of Visaltia. There are various versions for the origin of the name. One of them is that it originates from the trio “Egrita”, “Negrita”, “Negrita”. The origins of the name Igrita and Egrita lead to the identical Turkish words, eğri, iğri which mean sloping, sideways. The location of Nigrita, without Surpa, at the foot of the mountain justifies the association. The syllables -de, -da, -ta, -te, when used as second participles, in the Turkish language take the place of prepositions that specify place, in, on, over, in, etc. Consequently, egri-ta or igri-ta means “the inclined place”.
According to prevailing belief, the settlement of Nigrita was established during the middle of the 16th century by individuals hailing from mountainous regions. The population subsequently grew until the beginning of the 20th century, when it reached a population of 4,300 individuals.
During the last days before the Greek Revolution, the sightseer E. Consinery, who visited Macedonia, notes that the town flourished economically and its inhabitants, all of them being Greek, engaged in cotton cultivation, goldsmithing and coppersmithing. In the second half of the 19th century, a “Greek school” operated in Nigrita and, a few decades later, the schools of Nigrita and Sourpa numbered more than 250 students.
During the First Balkan War, Nigrita was liberated by the Greek army. On 24 October 1912, Nigrita was liberated from the Turks by the intervention of the Greek army. On 16 June 1913, the first coordinated Bulgarian attack against Greek units took place during the Second Balkan War. On 19 June 1913, Greek-Bulgarian clashes took place in the area and on the 29 June 1913 the Bulgarians set fire to Nigrita and left.
The ancient Verga (or Vergi, or Vergaio, or Verta) together with Argylos, Kerdylion and Ossa, were among the most important cities of ancient Visaltia. Its name is probably due to the firstborn son of Visaltis, Vergo. Ancient Verga was probably an important “trade”, i.e. trading post on the river Strymonas, on the shores of Lake Kerkinitis. The Thasians had settled there at the end of the 6th century BC and due to its geographical position, its agricultural and mining wealth, it evolved into a colony of Thassos. The city acquired a dominant role, as it facilitated the movement of goods from the Aegean and Thassos to the Thracian hinterland and the Balkans. It began to lose importance after the foundation of Amphipolis (437 BC), but it was still an independent city in the Hellenistic and Roman years. It was a rich city and minted its own coins from 476-356 AD. The coins bore on top Selino with Nymph or Selino alone or a carp fish (grivadi) or a square cross in the shape of a swastika and the inscriptions VERT, BERGAI and BERGAIOU. Verga was also known in antiquity by its comic poet Antiphanes, who never told the truth. Antiphanes was also the one who interceded for Demosthenes to ally with the Athenians and for that he acquired the right of an Athenian citizen. The existence of the ancient Verga is indicated by the important findings brought to light by recent excavations by the Ephorate of Antiquities of Serres, on the borders where the community of Neos Skopos Serres is located today. In particular, during the rescue excavations, which were carried out on the occasion of the construction of a warehouse in the area, a part of the necropolis of ancient Verga came to the surface, with many open and looted tombs, in most of which valuable objects were found, such as gold wreaths, ceramics, clay pots, coins, jewelry, etc. At the same time, walls and parts of settlements were discovered which show that the entire ancient Verga, a city with an important activity in the area, from the Archaic to the Hellenistic times, is buried in the area. The finds date back to 500 BC. and then, covering the period of the Roman and Hellenistic times. The interest of the archaeological excavations is focused on an area of 60–70 acres, right next to or even below the current settlement of Neos Skopos Serres. The discovery of ancient Verga is considered as important as that of ancient Amphipolis. According to him, the archaeological interest in the area started years ago, as there were testimonies and indications of the existence of the ancient city. In separate rescue excavations, about a year ago and at a distance of 500 meters from the area where the necropolis and the ancient settlement of Vergia were located, individual graves were discovered, as well as plaques and a headless horseman.
It is said that in archaic times, ancient Verga was a base for invasions and important commercial activity towards the Balkan cities, due to its geographical position, but also the geomorphy of the area, since it is assumed that there was a lake that communicated with the Strymonian Gulf.
For the time being, the excavation has been paused until the expropriating or exchanging the plots of land is done.