V. Nikolaidis passed through Kavala in the 19th century. He only finds 16 cannons in the citadel and points out its weakness against a possible attack from sea.
The administrative centre of the city and the broader region was located in the citadel of Kavala up to about 1880. This is probably where the Ottoman authorities of the settlement, of the “nahiye” (district) / small administrative unit originally of the “sanğaq” and later on of “gaza”) must have been located, from the beginning; the various officers and the small guard of the castle of 50 to 300 people during various periods, with the garrison commander at head. Both a general and a specific fact support this: the first is that in the Ottoman cities, the Turkish administration and the military guard were generally accommodated in one of their fortified departments. The second is that up until 1530, the only truly fortified and safe area part of the peninsula was the citadel, which moreover being a military camp must have disposed the basic infrastructures. The citadel continues to be the military and administrative centre of Kavala for another one or two decade after the expansion of the city beyond the walls (in 1864). Shortly before 1885, all the authorities and the military forces abandon the citadel, the military settlements are moved to another part of the city, outside its walls, and the useless from now on cannons are removed and the flag is struck by the bastions. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Abbas Hilmi, Khedive of Egypt bought the useless from now on castle from the Turks in order to create an industrial and hand-craft school, a plan that was never materialised.
In any case, after the fortress ceased functioning as a “military” area, it was used to serve the everyday needs of the residents of Panagia (Virgin Mary). The fortress was the best and most beloved “football court”: they entered through the gate of the “zematistra” (scalding spot), by pulling the door or passing under it. “That’s where we played at Marakana”, our informers remember, explaining that a self-sown sod grew there. Another spectacle that is linked to physical stalwartness, and which the residents of Panagia had the chance to enjoy, was the wrestlers (pehlivans). They were a familiar spectacle for the refugees that came from the territories of the Ottoman Empire. Thickset men presented themselves in fights of free wrestling, with their bodies covered in oil. The wrestling games took place in the fortress area and this phenomenon lasted up to 1940. The spectators watched after having got hold of a ticket. Last, the fortress also served as an area for school excursions: “Only in the fortress, where we went on excursions with our school and ran amongst shattered cannons and derelict gaols, rusty gibbets and sunless hiding places, we tried to unfold the game”.
The citadel was used for the last time during the World War II, when it was occupied by the possession troops. Then two rooms were built in front or the guardhouse, that were used as offices and which enclosed the city’s original entrance. This construction was demolished after the war. Some of its traces can be made out on the ground as well as on the guardhouse’s facade. In 1964, the Municipality of Kavala bought the fortress from the Egyptian government for 40,000 drachmas. Occasionally, various institutions for cultural events use the fortress. Today the fortress of Kavala is being rebuilt, so that it is put back to use again for the citizens of Kavala, keeping up its continuous brilliant presence in time and constituting one of the city’s most important sights.