Thessaloniki is called the second capital by the Greeks, since it is not only the second largest city of Greece after Athens, but also the capital of Northern Greece and Macedonia. It is beautifully situated by the sea, and there are also many interesting places in the city and its surrounding areas that you can visit.Thessaloniki is a great place to spend some time in all year around, and even though it is a very big city, it is not as polluted as Athens. The fresh sea breeze is almost always there, and taking a walk in its harbour you get a nice view of the town and the sea.
History Thessaloniki was the sister ofAlexander the Great. She was married to a man named Kassandros, and it was also he who founded the city in 315BC. Before that, there was a much older settlement here called Therme.
When the Romans came in the 2nd century BC, they appreciated the important situation of the city, and made it an important center for their military, commerce, and culture.
St. Paul the Apostle preached here, and during the Byzantine period it was the second most important city after Constantinople. There are still several churches here from that time.
Even though the city’s location gave its citizens many opportunities for trade and cultural influences, it was also a curse, since many nations wanted it as a stronghold.
The crusaders ruled in the city in the 13th century, and in the 15th century the Turks invaded. It was during the Middle Ages that Thessaloniki became an important place for the Jews, and to this day, the city has a very large Jewish community.
Thessaloniki was freed in 1912, but soon became involved in the First World War. Many died in fighting side by side with the Allies, and in 1917 a terrible fire made 80 000 people homeless.
During the Second World War the city was occupied by the Germans, and 50 000 Jews were deported to the concentration camps.
What to See The medieval fortress on top of the town is worth visiting and from there you also get a magnificent view. The area just below the fortress is the oldest part of the city, and it is very nice to walk around in this neighbourhood with its pretty houses and small, winding streets.Thessaloniki
The archaeological museum has interesting ancient artefacts from different time periods in Greek history. Of course, there are many more museums than that, for example, the Museum of Macedonian Struggle, The Ethnological museum, the Gallery of Fine Arts, the Technical Museum and the big International Trade Fair.
There are also excavations from ancient and Byzantine times in the city, and many old churches. Ag. Dimitrios is the main church of Thessaloniki, since this is also its patron saint (a Greek Roman officer who died in the 4th century).
The White Tower is a remnant from the Turkish occupation, this used to be a prison. In the harbour there is a statue of Alexander the Great, and on the Aristotle square there is a statue of the philosopher.
You can also visit the Roman Baths, and the Roman square, as well as the Galerius Arch (Kamara) from the 4th century. Worth visit is the Thessaloniki Expo area where is located the TV tower.
There is much more to see in this fantastic city, but I would need a separate site to cover it all!!!
Palace of Galerius (300 AD) in Navarinou Square. Imposing buildings appropriate to the brilliance of the Roman capital of the province of Macedonia. Roman Forum and Theatre in Dikastirion Square. Roman Baths, to the north of Agios Dimitrios church.
Nymphaion, an elegant, single-winged, circular building. One of its cisterns is now the chapel of St. John the Forerunner.
The Arch of Galerius was erected just before 305 AD in order to immortalize his military victories in Asia Minor, Armenia, Syria and Mesopotamia in the campaign of 297 AD.
The Rotunda, a round building of the early 4th century AD, was built as a Pantheon or Mausoleum for Galerius. It has additions from the early Christian era, dating from its transformation into a Christian church, with unique mosaics from the time of Theodosius the Great (379-395).
The Panagia Acheiropoietos (mid 5th century) and the church of Osios David (inscribed Syrian cross-in-square form) (late 5th century) – the Katholikon (church) of the monastery of Latomos – are the two oldest early Christian churches still standing in Thessaloniki.
The city reached its greatest heights during the Byzantine era and its most important date from this period.
The Walls were built during the reign of Theodosius the Great and surrounded the city from Dimokratia square to the Eptapyrgion (a fortress with seven towers) and up to the later White Tower, a work of Suleiman the Magnificent famous architect Sinan (first half 16th c.).
Agios Dimitrios was restored in 1948 in conformation with the two previous churches that were destroyed by fire, the first in the 7th century, the second – which was constructed immediately thereafter – in 1917.
The crypt, the easternmost section of the Baths, where in 303 AD St. Dimitrios was imprisoned, martyred and buried, lies underneath the south transept of the church.
Agia Sophia (8th c.), whose architecture represents a transition between the domed basilica and the domed cruciform church.
The Panagia Halkeon (Our Lady of the Coppersmiths), in the form of the Greek cross-insquare, was built in 1028, according to an inscription above the west entrance.
Agia Ekaterini (13th c.), with a well-preserved facade and fragmented frescoes within.
Agioi Apostoloi (14th c.) with ornate exterior decoration, mosaics and frescoes from the era of the Palaiologue emperors.
Agios Nikolaus Orphanos 14th c. (Irodotou 20), with sumptuous 17th century frescoes, taken from its dependent.
Vlatadon monastery, whose form has changed greatly from when it was built in the 14th century.
Prophitis ‚has, built in 1360 by the monk Makarios Houmnos atop the ruins of a Byzantine palace.
There are also a considerable number of churches dating from the past-Byzantine period. Museums
The Archaeological Museum (HANTH Square), with exhibits of ancient, classical and Roman sculpture. The main hall has an exhibition showing the evolution of Thessaloniki from prehistoric times to the early Christian era. A special wing houses the impressive, unique finds from Verging and masterpieces of Macedonian metalwork. The collection of prehistoric finds included objects from the Middle Neolithic through the Early Bronze Age. The Sindos exhibition contains finds from the cemetery of the archaic and classical periods – silver, gold, iron objects, weapons, pottery, idols.Museum of Folk Art and Ethnology, with exhibits of the last 250 years in the life of the nation (jewellery, weapons, household utensils, superb collection of traditional costumes from northern Greece), and a wealth of material of scientific interest.
Museum of the Macedonian Struggle (Proxenou Koromila), with exhibits from the period between 1878-1912 (costumes, uniforms, weapons and photographs of the freedom fig hters).
Museum of the White Tower. Exhibition on the art and history of Byzantine Thessaloniki from 300 AD to 1430
What to Do Apart from the many sights of Thessaloniki, you can also go to one of the many cinemas, theatres and concert hall. There is always something going on here, and it is a good idea to get a newspaper on arrival to see what’s on at the moment.
You can also go to Halcidiki and Vergina from here, as well as to most places in Greece here since the city has an airport and extensive boat, bus and train connections.
Beaches There are no proper beaches in Thessaloniki, but you can find several just outside. Most people who want some real sun and sea usually go to Chalcidiki, but there are also very nice summer resorts in Platamonas, Litochoro and Katerini further south for example.
Nightlife Thessaloniki has a great nightlife and there is something for every taste. There are places everywhere, but the most frequented are in the harbour, Ladadika, Krini, Leoforo Nikis and in the Navarinou Square. Most bouzouki clubs are situated near the airport.
Food and restaurants You’ll find excellent restaurants and taverns in the area below the Kastro, at Ladadika and in Krini, but of course there are many more all over Thessaloniki. Many places have their own specialties, and there are also several international restaurants. Some of the specialities of Thessaloniki is the famous Bougatsa (Cream pie) Loukoumades and Patsas ( Tripe Soup )
Shopping Being such a big city, there are shops everywhere. The whole area around Aristotelous Square and the White Tower have many boutiques, souvenir shops and bookstores. Here, you’ll also find many cafes and bars. In the main streets of Tsimiski, Mitropoleos, Egnatia and the coastal Nikis you will find all kind of shops. Many tourists from the neighbouring former Yugoslavian republics and from Bulgaria will come often in Thessaloniki for shopping. Every year is held the international exposition of Thessaloniki (Thessaloniki Expo) .
Getting Around Local buses and taxis are everywhere, but Thessaloniki is also a nice city for walking in since it is easy to find your way around. You can also rent cars and bikes, but it is not to be recommended for inside the city, since it is hard to find parking spaces and many drive like madmen. From Thessaloniki you can go by Ktel bus to Chalkidiki.
Getting There Thessaloniki has its own airport, Makedonia, and is connected with the whole of Greece through boats, buses and trains. There are also ferry connections with many Greek islands of the north and the south Aegean. The train station of Thessaloniki is one of the biggest in the Balkans.