- Category: Thessaloniki
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History of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is a big, modern city with 1 million inhabitants and the largest urban center of the Prefecture. It was founded in 315 B.C. by the king of Macedonia, Kassandros, son of the general Antipatros who was left as a prefect of Macedonia by Alexander the Great, when he dared his great expedition in Asia.
In this way, Kassandros, having won the battle for succession, married the step-sister of Alexander the Great, Thessaloniki, and founded the city in her honor, uniting 26 small settlements in the vicinity.
In less than two centuries from its establishment, Thessaloniki, just like all of Macedonia, was occupied by the Romans. In 148 B.C. it was the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. A bit later the Macedonian Greeks support the Roman occupation together with whom they face the peoples who often arrived outside of her famous walls trying to gain occupation.
In 42 B.C., Thessaloniki is declared a free city (civitas libera) and begins a new age of peace and prosperity.
Half a century before the birth of Christ, the Roman orator, Cicero, lives in Thessaloniki. The large, famous Egnatia Road for travelers who went from Rome to the East or came back from the West, passes right next to it, uniting the Adriatic to Constantinople. The Roman Empire was finally coming to its end. Two large powers are created with Licinius in the West and Constantine in the East.
Constantine the Great chooses Thessaloniki from where he will engage in his great confrontation with Licinius. He builds the new port of the city and recognizes Christianity as the official religion of the state. During that period, Thessaloniki acquires important Byzantine churches, many of which visitors will see today during their walks through the city. In the centuries that follow, Thessaloniki suffers from the raids of Goths, Persians, Arabs and Turks without ever losing its character. The city is saved by its great walls of which several of its parts still exist today crowning the city.
In 1185 the Byzantine Empire could not prevent the occupation of Thessaloniki from the Normans. A few years later come the Franks and in 1224 A.D. the city is occupied by Theodoros Doukas Komnenos and is declared the capital of the Bishop of Epirus.
Afterwards, the city will face the threat of the Catalans while from 1300 A.D. enters its golden age. The city experiences a singular autonomy and self-government. It is multi-membered with a strong economy, cultural and artistic life, brilliant monuments, skillfully decorated churches and all sorts of factories: copper, iron, lead, paper etc.
Its cultural renaissance is supported by a series of important orators, theologians, philosophers, lawyers and hagiographers with important works during that period. Grigorios Palamas, Nikolaos Kavasilas, the lawyer Constantine Armenopoulos, Thomas Magistros and the hagiographer Emmanuel Panselinos are all present in Thessaloniki creating their works. In 1430 A.D., the Ottomans occupy the city and force all those inhabitants that survived the slaughter to abandon the city.
For several years, after the 16th century, the city develops again and its communities of which it is composed live in harmony. Thessaloniki is a populous city, exciting and a cosmopolitan center of the time. The Greek middle class which gradually formed until the 18th century gave Thessaloniki the glory of the large commercial center.
At the end of the 19th century, Thessaloniki is connected via rail with Skopje and from there with Europe. Also, it is connected with present day Alexandroupolis and Istanbul. The first horse-drawn trams, industries and gas-light are established. Thessaloniki acquires the face of a cosmopolitan, European city. Greeks are now the overwhelming majority of its population.
Liberated Greece in the first years of the 20th century defends its national claims through many sacrifices with the Greek General Embassy of Thessaloniki as its center. However, word of the fall of the Ottoman Empire is evident.
On 26 October, 1912, on the day its protector, St. Dimitrios celebrates, Thessaloniki is liberated by the Greek army and is united to Greece after five centuries of Turkish occupation.
A few years later, after the Asia Minor catastrophe in 1922, and the population exchange with Turkey, Thessaloniki receives the larger part of the refugees, many of whom were of Pontic Greek descent and later comprised significant factors in the economy and social development of the city.
Source : http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/history/history_of_thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, a World Heritage City!
Thessaloniki is an open museum. Any walk around the beautiful northern Greek city will reveal some new aspect of its eternal history to the traveller. Ancient memories, Roman influences and Byzantine splendour comprise a uniquely charming mosaic. UNESCO has declared 15 Early Christian and Byzantine "ornaments" of Thessaloniki as World Heritage Sites, recognizing the city as one of the most important to the historical memory of humankind.
The Rotunda – centre of attraction
The Rotunda is one of the most imposing monuments of Thessaloniki. As its name suggests, it is a circular structure, which impresses with its powerful architectural style and the exquisite sacred art which adorns its interior. The construction of the Rotunda was completed under Caesar Galerius in the 4th century AD. It belonged to a large architectural complex, which also included a race track and a palace.
When Christianity prevailed, the Rotunda served as a "Martyrium", a shrine where the relics of suffering martyrs were held and revered. The mosaics are comparable to those of Ravenna in Italy for their power and beauty. Created in Thessaloniki, they are the oldest surviving examples of the East.
The Acheiropoietos Church - a gem of devotion
The Acheiropoietos Church owes its name to an icon of the Virgin Mary, ('Acheiropoietos' meaning "made not by human hands "), which was kept in the church. It is one of the first churches of Christianity, founded sometime between 450 and 475 AD. It is an example of an early Christian three-aisled timber roofed basilica. It stands on Agia Sophia Street, opposite the Makedonomachon Square Park.
The mosaics, murals , the ornamentation and the portable icons in the Acheiropoietos Church are a veritable treasury of sacred art.
Agios Demetrius – patron saint of Thessaloniki
The great church dedicated to the 'stratēlatē' (military leader) Agios Demetrius is to be found on the street of the same name. It is a five-aisled basilica with a transept. The paintings and carved marble ornamentation of the church show exquisite artistry. Today's temple was built in the 7th century AD under the supervision of Bishop Ioannis on the ruins of an older church. Agios Demetrius is the patron saint of Thessaloniki, and the relationship of the people of Thessaloniki with the saint is a strong one. His relics , which had been kept in the Abbey of San Lorenzo in Campo, Italy, were brought back to Thessaloniki in 1978. In the basement of the church and the crypt there is a permanent exhibition of sculptures, column capitals, parapets and other church artefacts.
Latomou Monastery – depicting a vision
The old 'katholikon' (main church) of the Monastery of Latomou, which today is a church dedicated to Hosios David, is located in the beautiful Ano Poli ('upper town') of Thessaloniki. It was built at the end of the 5th century AD, and originally dedicated to Jesus Christ. The mosaic in the apse depicts a scene, unlike anything seen elsewhere. It shows the vision of Ezekiel of Christ Emmanuel, that is, Christ as a beardless young man, seated on a rainbow. The composition also depicts Ezekiel himself, as well as the Prophet Habbakuk.
Agia Sophia – the eternal church
Agia Sophia was built in the 8th century AD on the site of an older church which was destroyed by an earthquake. Since that time and until the present day it has been the spiritual beacon of Thessaloniki with an unbroken history of active presence . It is a basilica type church with a domed roof. The mosaics, tesserae and religious paintings in the church are exceptionally beautiful.
Panagia Chalkeon: Our Lady of Coppersmiths – the "red" church
According to the founder's inscription above the west entrance, the Church of Panagia Chalkeon (Chalkeon being the word for coppersmiths, who worked in the area) was built in 1028 by the Prōtospatharios (a name for Byzantine Empire officials) Christopher, katepánō (master and ruler) of Lombardy. It is to be found in the old market square (Archaias Agoras). The walls of the church are of bright red brick – hence its nickname – the "Red Church". It is built in the classical Byzantine style, with four main columns and three cupolas. Its exterior is richly decorated with arches and pilasters, which complement the flowing grace of its architectural style. Its marble carvings have been preserved to the present day intact, as have the frescoes which ornament it.
The magnificent church of St. Panteleimon lies in the centre of Thessaloniki, at the junction of Egnatia and Iasonidou Streets. Its construction dates from the late 13th century AD. The Church is associated with the Monastery of Panagia Perivleptos (Our Lady Who Sees All), which was also known as the Monastery of Father Isaac. Of the original decoration only the murals in the 'diaconicon' (the Deacon's place in the Sanctuary or Sacristy) and the 'prothesis' (the Table of Oblation, in the NE side of the Altar where the elements for the Holy Communion are prepared) to the left and right in the apse still survive.
Agioi Apostoloi: The Church of the Holy Apostles – noble revelations
The Church of the Holy Apostles is a fine specimen of sacred architecture from the Byzantine Palaeologian period. Originally it was the katholikon (main church) of a monastery dedicated to Theotokos [the Virgin Mary]. It is situated on Olympou Street, in the western quarter of Thessaloniki. It was built in 1310 under the supervision of the ecumenical Patriarch Nephon I. During the Ottoman period it was turned into a mosque and the murals were covered up once the gold leaf had been removed. In 1926, work started for the first time to remove the layers of paint and restore the iconography of the church. In 2002 this monumental task was finally completed and the murals were fully restored to their former glory.
Agios Nikolaos Orphanos (the Orphan Nikolaos) – the mysterious church
Agios Nikolaos Orphanos was a dependency and the principal church of the Vlatadon Monastery. It is located in Ano Poli (the 'Upper City') at the eastern walls. The interior decoration of the church is one of the best maintained collections of iconography in Thessaloniki. The liturgies, Christ's miracles, multiple iconographic depictions of the Virgin Mary and the Saints decorate the walls of Agios Nikolaos with great artistry, creating a deeply moving atmosphere of devotion.
Agia Aikaterini (St Catherine) – the strength of the Macedonian school
The Macedonians School of Iconography warrants its own separate chapter in the history of Byzantine art. The icon painters of Macedonia were known for the intensity of colour they used in their compositions, as well as a completely different approach to the depiction of the human body, which they show to be strong and robust, a true and powerful dwelling place for the spirit. Agia Aikaterini, like many other churches in Thessaloniki, is decorated by craftsmen working in the Macedonian style. The ornate iconographic paintings of the church have the strength to captivate the hearts of visitors with their power and intensity.
Pantocrator Sotir Christos: the Church of Christ the Almighty Saviour – under the protection of Anna Palaeologina
The city was an important centre of hesychasm (monk-like devotion and contemplation) and a site of spiritual renaissance in Christendom. Charismatic personalities such as Gregorius Palamas and the monks Dorotheus and Markos Vlatis, the founders of the Monastery of Vlatades, were active in the city of Thessaloniki at the time. The reinforcement of religious sentiment was a strategic issue on which the very existence of the Byzantine Empire depended. That is why the famous Anna Palaiologina arrived in Thessaloniki herself and stood by to oversee the repairs and restoration of the old churches and the building of new ones. It was during this time that the Church of Pantocrator Sotir Christos was built. It still stands untouched by time in the northern quarter of Ano Polis.
Vlatadon Monastery – under the protection of the Seven Towers
Vlatadon Monastery, also known as Tsaous Monastir during Turkish Occupation, is located in the Upper Town, just 80 metres from Heptapyrgion (Seven Towers) Fortress. Tradition has it that the monastery is built on the spot where Paul the Apostle delivered his teachings during his stay in Thessaloniki. It is the only Byzantine monastery which is still active today. Reference to the monastery complex was made in 1405 by the Russian traveller, Ignatius of Smolensk. The monastery flourished in the 15th century, and it is thought that it may have also functioned as a place of Islamic worship during Ottoman times.
The Church of the Prophet Elias – a Byzantine gem
The church of Prophet Elias [Profitis Ilias] is on the corner of Olympiados and Profitis Ilias Streets in Ano Poli (Upper Town). Built on a natural hill, it once overlooked the whole of Thessaloniki. It is built in the Mount Athos architectural style, with an ornate dome and characteristic decorative brickwork features. The restoration of the church was undertaken during the period 1956-1961. The artistry and style of the wonderful murals that adorn it were a significant influence on the later Serbian school of iconography.
The Byzantine Baths – the people's culture
The Byzantine Baths in Thessaloniki are the only ones to have survived in Greece. They are situated in Ano Poli (Upper Town), nestling between the tall buildings. Construction is thought to have been completed in around 1300 AD, and they were in continuous operation for seven centuries. They only closed down in 1940, and are still considered to be a living part of the social history of the city.
The walls of Thessaloniki – history set in stone
The Byzantine wall of Thessaloniki follows the Roman one. Then the town was saved from the repeated incursions of the Thracian races in the 1st century BC. The history of the city is inextricably linked with its walls. With many towers, with frequent restorations, with continued care of the governors of Thessaloniki, they always protected the lives of its inhabitants within their stone embrace.
The Heptapyrgion (Seven Towers) Fortress which dominates the north-eastern perimeter of the walls is one of the most iconic fortified complexes in the Balkan region. The enclosed core of the castle was completed in the mid-Byzantine period. Today its interior has been renovated and it is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
THE WHITE TOWER - The emblem of Thessaloniki
The White Tower is perhaps the most recognizable spot in Thessaloniki. Depicted on all types of souvenirs and favourite clothes, photographed from all angles, in all seasons and at each hour of the day, it has come to be imprinted on our collective unconscious, an archetypal image. With its distinctive cylindrical shape, its six storeys and its memory-charged history, it has become the city's trademark. When one sets eyes on the White Tower, it means that one has made one of the most fascinating journeys and is in the city of a thousand promises, Thessaloniki.
The exact date of its construction is hidden in the mists of time. The initial suggestion that it was perhaps of Venetian construction, has not been accepted by archaeologists. Most likely it was built during the early Ottoman period, sometime after 1530. It is believed by some that the architect of this defensive fortress was Mimar Sinan, who also built a very similar tower in the port of Valona in Albania. What is certain though is that this impressive piece of architecture was built on top of a pre-existing Byzantine building.
A low, octagonal, surrounding wall and three additional towers, existing in the building's initial form, were demolished in the early 20th century. It is thought that on this outer wall stood heavy artillery which guarded the port and the coastline. It was initially named the Lion Tower, indicating the glory of the Ottoman military machine. During the 17th century it was unofficially known as the Fortress of Kalamaria. After 1826 it took the name Kanli-Kule, or Tower of Blood. Its present name conceals a great human story. A Jewish prisoner in the tower, Nathan Guidili, took it upon himself to smarten it up by painting it white. For this he won his freedom and certainly posthumous fame.
The White Tower, apart from being a great architectural monument, is a reference point in Thessaloniki. Dominating the shore, it has become a meeting point and a good place for a walk.
A tower steeped in history
The White Tower is inextricably linked to the history of Thessaloniki. Its walls preserve the memories of the stormy course of this great city. It has never ceased to play an important role. A watchful sentry guarding over the precious city of Thessaloniki for the Ottomans, then a place of imprisonment for unconquerable spirits.
During World War I, the allies housed the communications centre in the White Tower. At the same time the British expeditionary corps used it to save countless antiquities.
When it became the responsibility of the Greek state, from 1912 up to 1983, it housed the air defense of Thessaloniki. It has also accommodated the meteorological laboratory of the University of Thessaloniki and Sea Scout troops.
The White Tower at the heart of knowledge
Today the renovated White Tower is used as an exhibition centre. Under the auspices of the Museum of Byzantine Culture a permanent exhibition is on display dedicated to Thessaloniki, which allows the visitor to acquire a detailed knowledge of the successive historical periods of this great city. At the same time significant temporary exhibitions are held, such as for example exhibitions on Byzantine religious painting. The renovation of the monument and the themes it hosts show a deep respect both for its architectural style as well as its significance.
Major educational programmes are held at the White Tower; pupils, students and scholars from Greece and all over the world are given the opportunity to be initiated into the world of art and history.
The viewing platform at the top of the Tower acts as an extension of the exhibition centre. The visitor can learn from information signs about the history of the particular view he can see. It is a unique journey through time that adds to the visual enjoyment.
Museums in Thessaloniki
Archaeological Museum (6, M. Andronikou street, tel.: 2310 -831,037) An exciting tour of the history of ancient Macedonia through important findings dating back to the end of 6th century B.C. The museum was inaugurated in October 1962.
Byzantine Civilization Museum (2, L. Stratou street, tel.: 2310-868.570): one of the most important museums of the country, with valuable Byzantine exhibits dating back from the Early Byzantine period to the Turkish occupation. The museum often hosts modern art works and cultural events.
Museum of ancient Greek, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine instruments (12-14 Katouni street, Ladadika, tel.: 2310-555.263). More than 200 instruments dating from the Copper era until early 20th century are exposed in the three chambers of the restored building.
National Museum of Contemporary Art (Lazariston Monastery, 21, Kolokotroni street, Stavroupoli, tel.: 2310-600.123). Works made by Greek and foreign artists are exposed in the old building of the Monastery.
Municipal Art Gallery (162, Vassilisis Olgas street, tel.:: 2310-425.531). Housed in Mordoch mansion, it exposes Greek painters' works, placing the emphasis on artists from Thessaloniki.
Jewish Museum (13 Aghiou Mina street, tel.: 2310-250,406-7) Housed in a preserved building built in 1904, it presents the historical course of the Jews of Thessaloniki until their genocide by the Nazis during German occupation.
Thessaloniki History Center (Ippodamiou square, tel.: 2310-264,668) was founded in 1983 by the Municipality of Thessaloniki. It exposes historical documents, plans and gravures of the city.
Cinematography Museum (Port of Thessaloniki, tel.: 2310-508,398): It exposes rare machines, negatives, photos and films from cinemas dating back to the pre-war period.
Aghios Dimitrios Crypt (Aghios Dimitrios Church, tel.: 2310-270.591):In the museum you will see Paleochristian sculptures dating back to 5th -7th centuries as well as Byzantine sculptures (11th-14th centuries) which have been found in the church.
Macedonia-Thrace Folklore and Ethnological Museum (68, Vassilisis Olgas street, tel.:: 2310-812.343): It is housed in the preserved mansion of G. Modiano and exhibits about 15,000 items of special interest.
Macedonian Museum of Contemporary art (International Fair of Thessaloniki, tel.: 2310-281.567). The museum houses, among other things, paintings, sculptures, engravings, photos and films made by Greek or foreign artists.
Museum of the Macedonian Struggle (23, Proxenou Koromila street, tel.: 2310 229778). Housed in the neoclassical building of the 19th century, it hosts an exhibition of heirlooms associated with the Macedonian struggle and photos dating back to the period from 1900 to 1912.
Design Museum (43 Mitropoleos Street, tel. 2310- 263.043). More than 3,500 items concerning the history of Design in the whole world and more than 6,000 books, lists, monographs and magazines are exposed here.
Macedonian Studies Society Art Gallery (1, Nik. Germanou street, tel.: 2310-238.601). Houses an exhibition of Modern Greek art, including works of contemporary and older Greek artists.
War Museum (4, Gr. Labraki street, tel.: 2310-249,803) For more info: www.warmuseumthessaloniki.com
Telloglion Arts Foundation (159A, Aghiou Dimitriou street, tel.: 2310-991.610). The Foundation houses an exhibition of art works, as well as all the works possessed by Nestor and Aliki Telloglou, which they donated to the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Photography Museum (Port of Thessaloniki, tel 2310-566,716) exhibiting a great deal of photos and negatives.
What to see in the centre of Thessaloniki
Start with Aristotelous Square, the city's most central square boasting monumental mansions. The Ebrar Committee designed it after the devastating fire of 1917. It is one of the biggest and most impressive squares in Greece offering a view of Thermaikos Gulf. Under clear skies, you can see the Olympus massif in the far distance from the Square.
Stroll down Nikis Avenue across the seafront, extending from the city's Port (to the W) up to the Statue of Alexander the Great (in the E), lined with many cafés, bars and stores. It is one of the most popular promenade areas for locals and visitors alike.
The White Tower (Lefkós Pýrgos) is the city's landmark.The 33.9 m. high fortified cylinder tower measuring 22.7 m. in diameter was built under Suleiman I the Magnificent in the 16th century. It was part of the city's fortification and was later used by the Turks as a place of execution (it was called Kanli Kasteli which means "tower of blood"). It goes by its current name since the 19th century. Inside the Tower, there is an exhibition on Thessaloniki's history, from its establishment until 1922.
Visit the Palace of Galerius, comprising the Octagon (the throne chamber) and admire its renowned mosaics, the Galerius arch, known as Kamára, built in 305 BC and the imposing Rotunda, the circular dome roofed building with impressive Early Christian mosaics (late 4th century).
Another site worth visiting is the Ancient Agóra (Market place), a trading placefrom the 3rd century BC until the 5th century AD. Discoveries include the city's Agora (Market place), the Mint, the Odeion, a hall beleived to have been housing the city archives, a part of Valaneio with baths, a tavern and a whore-house, along with many smaller finds. There is an ancient temple and Early Christian tombs (4th -7th century) located under 3rd September Street.
Another interesting place to visit is the Byzantine Bath, close to Koule Kafe Square, dating back to the late 13th century, a rare discovery site of Byzantine Baths. There are also mosques worth visiting such as the Ishak Pasha Mosque (1484), situated close to Kassandrou Street and the Hamza Bey Mosque(1467) having been destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1620. The latter is situated at the junction of Egnatia and Venizelou Streets. Bezesténi is located in the Market centre (Venizelou & Solomou Streets) and used to be the trading place for luxurious textiles. It is a rectangular building with four entrances, built in the late 15th century. The city's turkish baths include Bey Hamam (1444) on Egnatia Street, Pasha Hamam(1520), Bazaar Hamam and Yeni Hamam. Go for a walk in Kapani and Modiano markets and experience the city's scents, perfumes and colours.
Don't forget to visit the Harbour, the Customs house and the warehouses(1910). The buildings have been modified to be used as venues forthe International Film Festival and to house the Cinema Museum and the Photography Museum.
Another very interesting place to see is the Royal Theatre, a 1940 building, nowadays the seat of the National Theatre of Northern Greece. This three-storey building boasts luxurious halls and in it there is one of the most high-tech stages in Europe. It is located on the White Tower Square. Also, the Young Men's Christian Association of Thessaloniki, on the YMCA square, and the OTE (Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation) Tower (1969) are located in the premises of the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair.The view from the top of the tower is magnificent.
Make sure to visit Ladádika, the historic neighbourhood, close to Aristotelous Square, that was saved from the 1917 fire.The renovated buildings have in the recent years been converted into restaurants and night clubs.
The city's central streets namely Mitropóleos, Tsimiski, Ermoú and Egnatia are lined with shops, awaiting customers. As you are visiting the city centre, notice theelite art nouveau buildings and mansions located there as well as the Holocaust Victims Monument dedicated to the memory of the Greek Jews of Thessaloniki who were exterminated by the Germans during the German Occupation.
Other interesting religious sights include:
1) the church of Ayios Dimitrios, the city's Patron Saint, built after 313 AD on the ruins of Roman baths and housing significant Byzantine monuments, even though it was destroyed several times. The Church, (Ayios Dimitrios' place of martyrdom) is a five-aisled Basilica, with a Narthex and a Crypt under the Sanctuary and the transverse Aisle (a present day museum).
2) Acheiropoiitos church. It is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was built in the 5th century. After the city was conquered by the Turks (1430), it was converted into a mosque. It is the only Basilica preserved in a very good condition in Greece. The church's interior is decorated with 5th century mosaics and 13th century frescoes.
3) Ayios Minas church, datingback to the 5th century, having remained a Christian church even after the city's conquest.
4) Ayia Sophia church, beingthe city's Metropolitan Church, built in the 7th century. Part of the murals decorating its interior, its 11th century frescoes in the Narthex and the 8th-12th century mosaics on the Dome, still exist.
5) Panayia Chalkeon: This is a 1028 church with frescoes dating back to the 11th and 14th centuries.
6) Ayios Panteleimonas church, built during the late 13th - early 14th century by the Metropolitan of Thessaloniki, Iákovos.
7) The Ayioi Apóstoloi church,an imposing edifice built in 1310-1314, converted into a mosque in the period 1520-1530. The mosaics and frescoes date to the period of the Palaiologos line of emperors.
8) The Sotiras Chapel, dedicated to the Transfiguration of Christ, is decorated with frescoes dating to the 14th century.
9) Nea Panayia church, athree-aisled Basilica with spaces reserved for women and a gallery at the west side of thechurch.
10) Ayios Harálampos church, used to be a dependency of the Mount Athos Simonopetra Monastery, featuringnoteworthy 17th-19th century icons, being fine examples of the Mt. Athos religious icon painting technique.
11) Laodigitria church, built in the 14th century and renovated in 1802. Icons of the 18th and 19th centuries can be seen in this church.
12) Panayoúda,beinga post-Byzantine Church, dedicated to the Birth of the Virgin Mary, featuring a 16th century icon.13) Ypapanti church, boastingnoteworthy small works of art and a history going back to 1531.
Thessaloniki - A quick look
Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area. Built near the sea (at the back of the Thermaïkos Gulf), it is a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm.
Take a tour in the centre of Thessaloniki and plan to visit its nearby destinations. Also, while being in Thessaloniki it is worth going up to Halkidiki.
Visit Thessaloniki's Archaeological sites
The ancient forum (dated to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD) with squares, porticoes, additional buildings and odeum (293-395 AD), the palace complex of Galerius Maximianus (4th c. AD), the thermae, the hippodrome, the temples and other monuments and moveable finds (among them mosaics of exquisite art) brought to light in excavations and surveys. In the south square, is the famous Stoa of the Idols, which was two-storeyed and lavishly decorated.
The Triumphal Arch of Galerius (Kamara), built in AD 305 to commemorate his military successes in general in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire.
The Rotunda is an early 4th century building which later was converted into a Christian church.
Visit Thessaloniki's Byzantine monuments
Thessaloniki, with its host of Byzantine monuments (due to it's significance during the Byzantine period), justifiably is considered an open-air museum of Byzantine art. Wandering through the city, it is worthwhile to see:
The churches of Acheiropoietos (5th century) a three-aisled, timber-roofed basilica, the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia) (7th century), the Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the katholikon and two cisterns within the precinct survive, Ayios Demetrios a splendid basilica dedicated to the patron saint and protector of the city, etc.
The byzantine walls of the city.
The archaeological site in 3 Septemvriou St., with remnants of a cemetery basilica, a martyrion and Early Christian graves.
The byzantine bathhouse (late thirteenth century).
The Heptapyrgion castle was raised in stages, from the early years of the Byzantine Age into the Ottoman period.
Amazing Ottoman monuments
The White Tower (15th century), the hallmark of the city.
The Mosques of the Hamza Bey Cami (15th century), the Aladja Imaret Cami (1484) and the Yeni Cami (1902).
Hamams (turkish bathhouses): The Pazar Hamam (15th century), the Pasha Hamam (15th century), Bey Hamam (16th century), Yeni Hamam and the Yahudi Hamam.
Bezesteni, a rectangular building with lead-covered domes and four entraces was built in the late fifteenth century and operated as a cloth market.
Discover neighbourhoods and focal points in the city
The Old City (Ano Polis), in which many notable examples of Ottoman and traditional Macedonian architecture still stand, alongside humble dwellings put up by the refugees who reached Thessaloniki in droves, after the Greek defeat in Asia Minor, in 1922.
The historical quarter of the Ladadika. In recent years, a series of interventions to rehabilitate the urban fabric have helped to enhance the Ladadika as a quarter for leisure pursuits.
The traditional markets: the Modiano, which is housed in a rectangular building of 1922, with pedimented facade and glass roof; the Kapani or Vlalis market; Athonos Square and the 'Louloudadika' (literally flower market).
Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, lined with many representative Neoclassical buildings and examples of late 19th century eclectic architecture.
The central Aristotelous Square, surrounded by monumental buildings and open to the waterfront for a width of 100 metres.
Other monuments and buildings in the city:
Mylos (literally mill). An old industrial complex, built in 1924, today have been remodelled to house cultural events and leisure activities, as well as the industrial buildings of the old FIX Brewery and the VILKA plant.
Lazarist monastery (1886) by the monastic order of the Brothers of Mercy, and now used for cultural events.
Thessaloniki Concert Hall. A newly-built, magnificent yet austere, multipurpose venue for cultural and other events.
YMCA Building, a building of 1924, with a mixture of Neocolonial and Byzantesque architectural elements.