From the mid-19th century until 1950, Kavala was the largest centre for the processing and exporting of tobacco in the Balkans. European trading houses and consulates would open in the town. This was the period of its greatest prosperity, with a brilliant bourgeoisie that was in continuous contact with Europe and which bequeathed a cosmopolitan atmosphere to the town.
At the same time, jobs were created for thousands of tobacco workers, while brokers, tobacco experts and shipping agencies, as well as the merchants and other professionals comprised the middle class. In the early 20th century the town had 150 tailors, ten luxury cinema theatres, nightclubs, coffee houses, restaurants and patisseries. The ruling class had a tennis club, the nightlife programme even included Parisian ballets, while at the Great Club (Megali Leschi) of the town dances and joyful masked balls were held.
Evidence for this period are the impressive residences of the big tobacco merchants and the warehouses that survive in the centre of the town.