In the middle of the 16th century, the French naturalist Pierre Bellon described Kavala's walls, baths, places of worship and aqueduct, built during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent and the reason for the changed face of the city (which had previously been reduced to a way station after the Turks destroyed it in 1391).
Because of the etymology of the word, Bellon believed that Kavala was founded on the site of the city of Boukefala (Bucephala) and that it was initially (around 1520-1530) inhabited by Jews of Hungarian origin, who were eventually surrounded by both Greeks and Muslims.
In the 17th century Evliyia Celebi postulated that the word derived from Kavalos, son of Philip II, while the French philhellene Charles Sonnini observed in 1780 that the rock on which the city's houses still cluster resembles a horse ('caballo' in Spanish).
By the end of the 18th century, Kavala had developed into a center of French commerce with close ties with Marseille and Constantinople. It already consisted of five neighborhoods with 900 houses (most of them Turkish). Outside the fortified peninsula, cotton warehouses were built, which together with the inns and the customs house gradually came to constitute the city's business district.