Thessaloniki

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The Queen of the North

A mosaic of different cultures & civilisations unveil the mysteries of Greece’s second thriving city

A land shaped from gods, deities, warriors and fighters, Northern Greece inspires travellers with its melodies, monuments and colors of its epic history and geography. The metropolis of Northern Greece, though, will charm you instantly.Being an exemplary mosaic of different cultures and civilizations, Greece’s thriving second city will thrill history-lovers with its long-standing monuments, a wonderful travel experience. No one can deny that Thessaloniki, or Salonika, as it was once known, is the cultural capital of Greece, a city with great history from the era of Alexander the Great. Ottoman-influenced buildings, Roman jewels and monuments from the Middle Ages, will guide you through the city’s rich history. The cultural heritage of Thessaloniki is evident in the soul of the historic center. Macedonian tombs, temples and fortifications built from Athens and Sparta, rotundas and arches of imperial Rome, minarets of the Ottomans and domes of Byzantium unveil in the city with thousands of years of historical momentums. Characterized as the Queen of the North, aristocratic, multifaceted, and cosmopolitan Thessaloniki magnetizes the travellers. The White Tower, the imperious walls of Ano Poli, the vastness of Aristotelous square, the pedestrian street of Tsimiski, the Rotunda, the Roman Forum and the Arch of Galerius, the historic district of Ladadika and the square of Navarinou, the imposing temple of St. Sophia, the philosophical school of the Aristotle University, the view of the Thermaic gulf from Victory Avenue.You will never be far from the sea, as, when you least expect it, you will catch a glimpse of the blue glittering waters and the boats lost on the horizon. Images, melodies, flavors and scents will guide you through the cultural capital of Greece.It is a fact that Thessaloniki is considered as the most vibrant city of this country, and it is surely no coincidence that almost everyone falls in love with her. A city with moments of cultural triumphs that have shaped its exclusive spirit over the millennia. What’s not to love about Thessaloniki?

Discover Thessaloniki

Archaeological Sites

The Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki, else known as the Roman Forum, is one of the most important archaeological sites of Thessaloniki that served as the administrative, social and religious centre of political and public life in Thessaloniki. Situated close to Aristotelous Square, the Agora is believed to have been built during the 2nd century A.D. The Agora used to be a large open-area surrounded from elegant buildings that testified its financial prosperity, especially during the Roman and Hellenistic period, an important period of Thessaloniki’s history due to its strategic importance.

The Arch of Galerius, else known as Kamara, was part of the building complex that included the Rotunda, the Hippodrome and the Galerius Palace. Situated at the junction of Egnatia and Gounari street, the Arch was constructed at the end of the 3rd century in honour to the victories of Emperor Galerius against the Persians in Asia Minor and Syria (297 AD). When it was firstly built, the arch has an impressive structured comprised from four columns and a dome. Today, only two of the columns have sustained through time, and it is believed that the columns represented Galerius’ victories.

The Bey Hamam is the first Turkish bathhouse that was built in the country, and it is situated on Egnatia Street. Characterized as one of the last remaining aspects of Ottoman culture in Greece, the “Bath of Paradise” was built from Murad II in 1444. Bey Hamam is separated into two areas, respectively from men and women. Both areas follow the same architecture, with marble benches, relaxation rooms and massage area, and hot, warm and cold quarters. After the massive earthquake of Thessaloniki in 1978, the baths were restored and today they are mainly used for exhibitions and cultural venues.

The Galerius Palace is the most important monumental group in Thessaloniki, which was built at the turning point of two worlds, the Roman and Byzantine. Its erection began in the late 3rd century-early 4th century AD, when the Caesar Galerius Valerianus Maximianus (293-311 AD) chose Thessaloniki as the seat of the eastern part of the Roman Empire. During Early Christian times, important 4th century emperors occasionally stayed in Thessaloniki due to its significance and geographic location, situated between Rome and the New Rome-Constantinople. Significant building remains of the complex came to light in excavations carried out during the second half of the 20th century. Some of these, like the Apsidal Hall and the buildings at the archaeological site in Navarinou Square, are visible and open to the public, though most have been buried due to the reconstruction of the historic city center. In 2008, the archaeological site received an award from the European Union and Europa Nostra, a pan European Federation for Cultural Heritage, for the exceptional and exemplary restoration and conservation of its ruins, as well as the totality of interventions which transformed an abandoned site into a well-organized, educational one which functions as a pole of attraction in the heart of the contemporary city. Important findings are exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki. (Source: Galeriuspalace.culture.gr)

The Rotunda is the emblematic monument of Thessaloniki and one of the oldest religious sites of the city that was built in the early 4th century AD, on the turning point between the pagan with the Christian world, probably as a temple for ancient cult worship or as a mausoleum for Constantine the Great (306-337). This circular, domed building is 29.80 meters in height, 24.50 meters in diameter, its walls are 6.30 meters thick and can only be compared architecturally to the Pantheon in Rome. It was erected north of the Arch of Galerius, with which it was linked from a processional road. Not long after it was built and during the early years of the long-lived Byzantine Empire (330-1453), the Rotunda was turned into a Christian church with the addition of a sanctuary on its eastern side. The interior was decorated with Early Byzantine (4th- 6th c. AD) wall mosaics of unique artistry and beauty. According to Byzantine texts, the church was dedicated to the Archangels. It was Thessaloniki’s cathedral church (metropolis) between 1524 and 1591, the year in which it was converted to a mosque by the οttoman conquerors. It remained in use as a mosque until the city’s liberation in 1912. Its dedication since that time to Saint George (Agios Georgios) is owing to the small neighboring church of this name. (Source: Galeriuspalace.culture.gr )

Castles & Towers

The Castle of Heptapyrgio , else known as Yedi Kule, dominates above the Old Town of Thessaloniki (Ano Poli). The castle was founded from Cassander in 316 BC on the ancient Acropolis of the city. It is widely surrounded from the Walls of Thessaloniki. Towers and building were constructed during the Byzantine era up until the Ottoman rule of the city in 1430. The castle of Heptapyrgio was renovated (1444) and ancient buildings were demolished as more towers were constructed. More specifically, the castle has ten towers. Until 1890, the castle served as the seat of commanders, and then it was used as a prison (1989). Various political opponents served time at the time during the Metaxas Regime (1936 – 1941), the Axis occupation in Greece and the Colonels Regime (1967-1974). Following destructions from wars and earthquakes, the castle of Heptapyrgio is under restoration and open to visitors. The view from Ano Poli is just spectacular!

The Walls of Thessaloniki is a long building process that dates back in the establishment of the city from Cassander up until the beginning of the 20th century. The main construction phases took place from the 3rd to the 5th century AD while the best-preserved areas belong to the Byzantine era, when Emperor Theodosius governed the city. The walls of Thessaloniki used to cover 8 thousands meters, of which only 4,3 thousand meters remain. The ancient walls of Thessaloniki enclosed the upper northern side of the city, known as the Acropolis, till the east and west edges till the sea, where they existed along the seafront. Democracy Square is found on the west side, where once stood the Golden Gate of the Walls of Thessaloniki, while an octagonal tower formed part of the west fortress, of which only remains can be spotted behind the courthouse. Triangle Tower at the edge of the Acropolis marked the beginning of the eastern walls, where the Gate of Anna Palaiologou, a great monument, has been preserved. The Cassandrian Gate used to stand where Syntrivani square is today, and the Coastal Gate was close enough. It is worth mentioning that the White Tower strengthened the fortification of the walls. The Ottomans demolished parts of the western and eastern walls as well as the sea walls so that they allow the sea breeze to freshen up the city as well as the city to expand beyond its fortifications.

The White Tower is the emblem of Thessaloniki situated on Nikis Avenue.The tower was constructed in the rule of Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (1520-1566), as part of the fortification system of the city. It is a circular tower with a diameter of 22,7m and a height of 33,9m, and its interior has six floors connected through stairs. The Ottomans used the tower as a fortress, a garrison and a prison. During the 18th century, it was known as Kalamaria Fortress while it was renamed as the Red Tower (1826) due to the massacre of the prisoners order from Sultan Mahmud II. Following the release of the tower from the Turks (1912), the tower was painted white as a symbolic gesture of purification. The White Tower played a vital role to Thessaloniki’s air defense during World War I & II, while it hosted the meteorology laboratory of the university of city and the Sea Cadets until 1983. In 1985, the tower was fully restored, and today the Byzantine Museum of Thessaloniki is housed in its premises. Frequently, it organizes exhibitions regarding the city’s history through the centuries.

Churches and Monasteries

The Church of Agia Sophia is one of the oldest Byzantine churches of Thessaloniki that has been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list as part of the Byzantine and Paleochristian monuments of Thessaloniki. It is a domed basilica temple with an imposing architecture, impressive wall paintings and wonderful mosaics. In 1205 AD, when Thessaloniki was captured from the Fourth Crusade, Agia Sophia became the city’s cathedral. Following seven centuries as an Orthodox church, Agia Sophia was converted into a mosque under the Ottoman rule (1585). Though, it was reconstructed in 1907 after a devastating fire, and re-dedicated to Christian worship in 1912 after the city’s liberation. Agia Sophia’s church earliest written reference dates back to 695 AD. Based on its masonry and design, some scholars consider that it could predate its namesake in Istanbul, built in the 6th century. However, others believe that the church was built in the early 8th century, during the reign of Leo III the Isaurian. Excavations, though, revealed remains of both a Roman building and an Early Christian basilica under the present church. Agia Sophia church has a crucial artistic and historical importance; its exterior occupies a fine setting in a garden while its interior is spacious covered with a dome 10 meters in diameter. Its original mosaics have survived through its history, some of which date from the 9th century depicting the Ascension, and others have survived from the Iconoclastic period.

The Church of Agios Demetrius is dedicated to the saint protector of Thessaloniki. He was the son of a military commander, who also joined the army. As a youngster, he was secretly baptized a Christian, as idolatry was worshiped. Following the death of his father, Roman Emperor Maximian ordered him to kill the Christians of the city and change his religious beliefs, which he refused, and therefore he was imprisoned, tortured and died. When Emperor Constantine the Great put an end in the prosecution of the Christians (324 AD), he made Christianity the official religion of the Byzantine Empire. That was the time that people built a tiny church on the place of his martyrdom next to the Roman baths. However, eparch Leontios founded a bigger three-aisled basilica followed from a five-aisled one. Although the church was converted into a mosque, it was re-dedicated to Christianity after the liberation of the city. In 1912, Agios Demetrius became the patron saint of Thessaloniki, when the Greek army entered the city on his name day (October 26) and delivered the city from the Ottomans.

The Church of Prophet Elias is part of the Byzantine and Paleochristian monuments of Thessaloniki of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list. It was built in the 14th century following the technique used by the Paleologus family in the quarter of the old city. Its architectural design is cross shaped with four-columns, known as Athoniki, since it was used exclusively in Holy Mount Athos. During the Ottoman occupation, it was known as Sarayli mosque

The Monastery of Lazariston was constructed from the monks of the Order of St. Vincent of Paul, who became known by the Order’s heasquarters in the church of Saint-Lazare, Paris, in 1861. The main purpose of the Lazarists was to help the poor and educate the clerics in order to spread Catholicism. Initially, it operated as an orphanage, and then as a Catholic seminary, a hospital of the French army and a refugee housing area. Following the restoration in 1997, the monastery houses the State Museum of Contemporary Art sting the famous Costakis Collection with Russian avant-garde projects, while in its premises, are taking place theatrical performances, concerts, exhibitions and other events. ( Source: Thessaloniki.travel )

The Monastery of Vlatadon is the sole surviving Byzantine monastery of Thessaloniki situated on the northern tip of Ano Poli. According to historical testaments, Thessaloniki used to have many monasteries during the Byzantine era of Paleologos (1261 – 1453). Their construction was encouraged in order to strengthen their religious views and keep people united. Vlatadon Monastery was founded from two monks/brothers, Dorotheos and Makros Vlatis. With the help of Anna Paleologina Notara, the monastery was built in the 14th century and was dedicated to Christ Almighty. In fact, as recent restoration works have shown, the monastery was built on the site of an older church, as the frescoes inside the katholikon date from the 11th century. Along centuries, many reconstructions and additions were adjoined to the monastery building. During the Ottoman occupation of Thessaloniki, the monastery was called Tsaous Monastery, after the Turkish officer Tsaous Bei, whose residence was inside the Castle and used to walk to the monastery to enjoy the view. Today, the Monastery of Vlatadon belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. (Source: Greeka.com)

Monuments

The Holocaust Memorial is a sculpture depicting the seven-branched lampstand and flames in a complex of human bodies that was placed on Eleftheria Square in 1997. It commemorates the mass torture and murder of the Jews, once the largest Jewish community in Greece, by the Nazis in 1942.

The National Theater of Northern Greece is one of the most important cultural organizations in Greece that was established in 1961. The Drama School and the Dance Theater are integral parts of the National Theater. The organization has four indoor theaters and two open-air theaters, and it is one of the biggest theater institutions in Greece and Europe. Since 1996, NTNG is a member of the Union of Theaters of Europe and the International Theater Institute.

The Statue of Alexander the Great dominates the Nea Paralia district. It is a bronze statue of the iconic Greek figure with his horse, Bucephalus that was create from sculptor Evangelos Moustakas. It is one of the most important statues of Thessaloniki that was erected in 1973 with public fundraising.

The Statue of Aristotle was made from Georgios Georgiadis and it is found the Aristotelous Square. It is a statue to the Greek philosopher that appears to hold a pergamine paper in his left hand while his right rests on a marble case.

The Statue of Eleftherios Venizelos, an eminent Greek leader of the Greek national liberation movement, is located on the north side of Aristotelous Square. Having taken some of the most important decisions that affected Greece during the entire 20th century Eleftherios Venizelos played a key role in certain events that turned out to be critical for the city of Thessaloniki (Source: Inthessaloniki.com )

The Statue of Lisimachos Kaftantzoglou is dedicated to the benefactor of Kaftanzoglio Stadium of Thessaloniki, one of the oldest and greatest stadiums in Greece, which was built with a donation from the Kaftanzoglou Foundations.

The Thracian Fallen Heroes Memorial is dedicated to the heroes from Thrace who were lost at sea during the Greek Revolution of 1821.

The Umbrellas of Thessaloniki is one of the most photographed sights of the city located on the waterfront boulevard. It is an remarkable work of art that was created from sculptor Giorgos Zoggolopoulos. The “Umbrellas” was firstly exhibited at the Venice Biennale (1993), and it was displayed outside the Macedonican Museum of Contemporary Art of Thessaloniki in 1997.

Museums & Cultural Halls

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is one of the most important archaeological museums in Greece. The permanent exhibitions of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki include unique masterpieces of ancient Greek art dating from prehistoric times to late antiquity. The museum is located at 6, Manoli Andronikou street and its visiting times are Monday to Sunday from 8:00 to 20:00.

The Atatürk Museum is housed in the house of Kemal Ataturk, located behind the Turkish Consulate. In 1935, the house was donated by the municipal council of Thessaloniki to the Turkish state, and became a museum. The building of the museum has three floors and a courtyard. Most of the furniture is original. Any missing items were replaced with furniture from Kemal’s mausoleum and from Top Kapi in Istanbul. There are photographs on all the walls of Kemal at various periods of his life. Since the house is located in the same property with the Turkish Consulate in Thessaloniki you might have to ask for a permission in order to enter the building. (Source: Enjoythessaloniki.com )

The ARIS Basketball Museum of Thessaloniki was founded to exhibit the rich history of ARIS team, a glorious team in both the Greek and the European basketball scene during the 1980’s and 1990’s. Exhibits include 21 cups since the team’s first championship in 1930, 3 European cups up until the last Greek Cup in 2004, 96 balls bearing the names of major ARIS players and clothes and lucky jackets worn by Giannis Ioannidis, ARIS’s coach during its most successful era, and Nikos Galis, the most important player in the history of Greek basketball. The museum is located at 2, Grigoriou Lambraki street. The visiting hours of the museum are from Monday to Friday 12:00 to 14:00 and Wednesday and Friday 17:00 to 20:00

The Cinema Museum of Thessaloniki was founded following a decision from the organization for Thessaloniki, Cultural Capital of Europe 1997.The museum is housed in Warehouse 1, a listed building on the first wharf by the harbor. The mission of the museum is to display and preserve exhibits from the history of cinema in Greece. Exhibits include machinery, old cinema equipment, sub-titling machines, hand-produced cinema posters, a cinema archive as well as 2,000 pictures from hundreds of Greek movies. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 09:00 to 15:00 and Wednesday and Friday from 09:00 to 19:00.

The Concert Hall of Thessaloniki was established in order to satisfy the city’s need for a venue to host artistic events and not only. It is a modern cultural and conference center of international standards with capacity to host a wide range of events including theatrical and opera shows, art and culture exhibitions, concerts, and conferences. The building’s external appearance is in perfect harmony with the city’s history, combining decorative elements both from its byzantine past as well as its contemporary cosmopolitan role.

The Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki was established in 1997, at the occasion of Thessaloniki’s year as European Capital of Culture. The mission of the museum is to display and preserve works of contemporary art from Greek and foreign artists and improve the art education of the public. The museum exhibits 1,275 art works of Russian avant-garde art consisting of constructions, drawings, painting and sculptures. The museum is housed in Warehouse B1 at Thessaloniki port. The visiting hours of the museum are Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00.

The Gerovassiliou Wine Museum is one of the most interesting wine museums in Greece housed at the heart of the Estate’s winery. The museum was inaugurated by the ten-President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Karolos Papoulias. Vangelis Gerovassiliou’s vision was to enhance the viticulture tradition, and he began collecting bottling, winemaking and viticulture tools from all around the world since 1976. The museums’ collection exhibits rare pieces dating back to the 18th century, true symbols of the technological advances, high aesthetics and social structures of the era. Quality wine, its production and significance in human lives constitute the main museological axis of Gerovassiliou Wine Museum. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00 to 16:00, Wednesday from 13:00 to 19:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00.

The Greek Pharmaceutical Museum is the first pharmaceutical museum in Greece that was established from the Pharmaceutical Association of Thessaloniki due to the vital role of the Greek pharmacists and their contribution to the development of the science. The mission of the museum is to study, present and promote material used to highlight the importance of the history of the pharmaceutical science in Greece. The museum is located in Finikas district. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 15:00.

The Greek Refugees Museum is exhibits a large collection of items including icons from Eastern Thrace, Ionia, Cappadocia, and Constantinople as well as old photos from Pontus, Ionia and Constantinople and documents regarding their educational system, precious relics and costumes. The mission of the museum is to collect and present information about the lost but not forgotten lands of the Greek nation. The museum is located at 21, Amaseias Street. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Friday from 09:30 to 20:30.

The Folklore Museum of Thessaloniki is housed in Modanios Villa, else known as the Old Government House. Exhibits. With more than 20,000 exhibits, the museum displays items related to the everyday life of the citizens including agriculture, pottery, embroidery and farming from the ancient times. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday, Tuesday and Friday from 09:00 to 15:30 and Wednesday from 09:00 to 21:30.

The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki is housed in one of the few Jewish buildings to survive in Thessaloniki after the great fire of 1917. The museum exhibits a photographic collection dedicated to the city’s Jewish heritage through the 15th century until its peak period in the 17th century, just before the Jewish community was annihilated in the Holocaust. The museum is located at 13, Agios Minas street in a building designed by the Italian architect Vitaliano Posseli, whose restoration was funded by the Organisation for the Cultural Capital of Europe Thessaloniki 1997. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Friday from 10:00 to 15:00, with the exception of Friday that is also open from 17:00 to 20:00, and Sunday from 10:00 to 14:00.

The Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art was established with the intention of promoting Greek and international contemporary art in 1979. The museum has acquired its collections through donations of collectors. The museum’s first donation that forms the core of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art, was made from Alexandros Ioals, a great collector of modern art pieces. Today, the museum exhibits more than two thousand art works of engraving, sculpture, painting and photography from Greek and foreign artists such as Mytaras, Fassianos, Moralis, Tsoklis, Charpin, Delacroix and Raynaud. The MMCA is housed within the HELEXPO Exhibition Center on Egnatia Avenue. The visiting hours of the museum are Thursday and Saturday from 10:00 to 18:00, Friday from 10:00 to 19:00 and Sunday from 11:00 to 15:00.

The Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki is one of the most important art institutions of the city that is housed in three historical buildings, and it was founded in 1966. Casa Bianca, a well-preserved monument of Thessaloniki’s architectural heritage, displays Nicholas Gyzis collection, a donation from the painter’s family, and a Byzantine icons collection from the cemetery temple of Evangelistria. The gallery displays more than one thousand works of art divided into the Thesalonian Artists collection, the Collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons, the Sculpture Collection, the Modern Greek Engraving Collection and the Modern Greek Art Collection. The Municipal Art Gallery of Thessaloniki hosts and organises periodical exhibitions in collaboration with other cultural institutions as well as permanent exhibitions displaying its collections. The visiting hours of the gallery are Tuesday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00. Note that on Thursdays the gallery is open from 10:00 to 20:00.

The Museum of Byzantine Culture opened its doors to the public for the first time on September of 1994 with the exhibition “Byzantine Treasures of Thessaloniki: The Return Journey”. That exhibition with the inspired title marked the return of the Byzantine antiquities, on the 14th of June 1994*, after eighty years in the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens where they have been transferred in 1916. The exhibition also marked the end of a long effort for the foundation of a Byzantine Museum in Macedonia and specifically in Thessaloniki which is connected with persons and events of the recent and contemporary history of the Greek state. The museum is located at 2, Stratou Avenue. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Sunday from 09:00 to 16:00.

The Museum of Macedonian Struggle was established from the Foundation for the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle and it is housed in a Neoclassical building of the 19th century, designed from Ernst Ziller, at 23, Proxenou Koromila Street. The museum presents the economic, military, political and social developments that shaped the presence of Hellenism in the region.Some of the museums’ most important exhibits include personal objects of the Macedonian’s Struggle leaders, weaponry, uniforms as well as more than one thousands contemporary pictures, newspapers, maps, books and paintings.The visiting hours of the museum are Tuesday to Friday from 09:00 to 14:00, Wednesday from 18:00 to 20:00, Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 to 14:30.

The Olympic Museum of Thessaloniki was firstly established as the Sports Museum in 1998 with the support of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Macedonia – Thrace, the Special Secretariat for Sports, Athletic Unions and Associations of Local Authorities. In 2008, it was recognised as the first Olympic Museum of Greece from the International Olympic Committee. The aim of the museum is to collect, conserve, record and establish the sport history while its mission is the conservation and prominence of the national Olympic history and of the Olympic ideal.The museum exhibits historical records of the Greek Medalists, torches, medals, memorabilia from the Olympic organisations and athletic equipment. The museum is located in the junction of Agiou Dimitriou street and 3rd Septemvriou street. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 19:00, Saturday from 10:00 to 16:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 14:00.

The Railway Museum of Thessaloniki is housed in a renovated 1894 building, a replica of a military post in Alexandroupolis, in the region of Dialogi Kordeliou. One of the most famous wagons of the “Orient Express” is parked in the yard. Specifically, it is a wagon-restaurant of the “Orient Express”, made in England in 1900. It was part of the original “Orient Express”, which has traveled from Paris to Istanbul since 1883; it was the notorious train where over 1800 movies were filmed and the inspiration for the famous writer of crime novels, Agatha Christie.The wagon was granted for restoration to the “Thessaloniki Railway Friends” by OSE SA. At the Kordelio Railway Museum, the past is revived through maps, audio signals transmission trumpets, bells cancellation tickets, magnetic telephones, telegraph, lanterns, clocks, desks, typewriters, labels and everything else the Museum members have managed to gather. These include a piece of furniture-basin from the “royal train” – one of the few rescued items from that train.The museum is located at 7B, New Monastiriou Street. The visiting hours of the museum are Wednesday and Thursday from 10:00 to 13:00. Scheduling of visits is recommended.

The Thessaloniki Science Centre and Technology Museum (NOESIS) is the most important museum of Technology in Greece. The mission of the museum is to showcase the technical culture and the development of science and technology. Learn and have fun through the virtual reality simulator, the Planetarium, the Cosmotheatre and Technology Museum, the wonderful world of science has never been so close! Exhibitions are presented with topics related to science and technology including the Classic Cars Exhibitions featuring car models that mark the history of automobile, the Technopark featuring interactive (hands-on) exhibits, the Ancient Greek Technology, one of its kind, that exhibits more than seventy replicas of machines used from the prehistoric period till the Hellenistic and Byzantine period and the Image and Sound exhibition, featuring the technology of photography, radio and television (it is under study).NOESIS is located on the 6th km of Thessalonikis-Thermis Avenue. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Friday from 09:00 to 15:00, Saturday from 13:00 to 21:00 and Sunday from 11:00 to 19:00.

The Thessaloniki Museum of Photography “Christos Kalemkeris exhibits the rich collection of photographs of Christos Kalemkeris, concerning significant subjects that Greek and foreign photographers worked on, which also constitute the history of photography itself in Greece and Mediterranean region during 19th and 20th centuries. Among the subjects exhibited are: rare photos of the Greece railway network history, the Balkan wars, as well as, World Wars I & II and ancient relics from Greece and Asia Minor.The museum is located at 48A, Papandreou Street in the district of Kalamaria. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday to Friday from 07:30 to 15:30. (Source: Thessaloniki.travel )

The War Museum of Thessaloniki is a military museum housed in a building designed from the Italian architect Vitialino Posseli in the beginning of the 20th century. The museum exhibits items that shaped Modern Greek history from the beginning of the 20th century until the end of the German occupation and the liberation of Greece at the end of World War II. The museum is located at 4, Grigoriou Lambraki Street. The summer visiting hours of the museum are Monday from 11.00 to 16:00, Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 19:00 and Sunday from 09:00 to 17:00 and the winter visiting hours are Monday from 11.00 to 16:00, Tuesday to Saturday from 09:00 to 17:00 and Sunday from 09:00 to 16:00.

Promenades and Neighborhoods

Ano Poli (Upper Town) is the old part of Thessaloniki located on the highest part of the city, dominated from the acropolis, on the northern side of the city. Ano Poli is the sole part that has survived from the Great Fire of 1917, the main reason that will feel like travelling back to the Byzantine past of Thessaloniki. A different Thessaloniki is discovered on this corner, a nostalgic city with millions of secrets. Ano Poli preserves the Ottoman-era elements of Thessaloniki including old squares, traditional houses and stone-paved alleys following the Greek and Ottoman architecture. The main monument of Ano Poli is the main fortress of the city, the castle of Heptapyrgio, which was founded from Cassandrer in 316 BC on the ancient Acropolis of the city as well as the Walls of Thessaloniki, of which the best preserved regions belong to the Byzantine era. The remaining city walls ring Ano Poli, with many of its additional Ottoman and Byzantine structures still standing. The Atatürk Museum is also in the Upper Town. Other monuments include the Vlatadon Monastery, the church of Saint Catherine and the temple of the Archangels. Characterised as the balcony of Thessaloniki, Ano Poli is a must visit. A promenade in the picturesque cobblestone alleys with panoramic views of the sea and the city offers a unique experience, as it will give travellers a sense of the Byzantine past of Thessaloniki in contrast with the modernised city centre. One should not miss the glorious sunset from Ano Poli. Those who chose to discover Ano Poli will be treated to views of Olympus Mount from across the Thermaic Gulf, once the atmosphere is clear.

Aristotelous Square is the main square of Thessaloniki located on Nikis Avenue. It is one of the biggest and most impressive squares in Greece offering captivating views of Mount Olympus. It was re-designed from the French architect Ernest Hébrard in 1918 after Thessaloniki’s Great Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city’s centre. It is quite interesting that the square was designed based on the architectural standards found in many European maritime cities such as the Praca do Comercio in Lisbon, in order to change the chaotic layout of Ottoman Thessaloniki. It is the only open space in the centre of the city, a meeting place for numerous events and festivals happening throughout the year.

Athonos Square is a wonderful area in the city centre. The square hosts all different kind of shops with spices, vegetables, fruits, cheeses, fruits, nuts and teas, handmade accessories, decorative objects as well as clothes boutiques. The region has quite a few traditional taverns around the square serving delicacies and alcoholic drinks, and some days there is live Greek music. A stop at the food market and its picturesque shops and lovely wooden objects stores is surely a must!

Bit Bazaar is one of the most interesting neighbourhoods of Thessaloniki located north of Aristotelous Square. It was firstly built as a refuge settlement in 1928 from the Greek refugees from Asia Minor. At that time, a number of buildings were constructed for the housing needs to be covered. With the passage of times, most of them have been used as antique shops as it was evolved in to a market. Some of them still exist offering rare items. In recent years, picturesque cafes and traditional taverns have been created serving mezedes (small dishes with delicacies), wine and retsina (an alcoholic drink). Bit Bazaar is really popular among young people, especially college students. Keep in mind that the main square is surrounded from from tall buildings, making it difficult to find it. Ask the locals for directions if you get lost!

Ladadika is the historical district of Thessaloniki located in the downtown centre opposite the central gate of the Port. Two-storey colourful buildings with rectangular windows and cobblestone alleys showcase the spirit of how Thessaloniki once was. Its name was taken from the Greek word oil, as there were many oil shops trading olive oil in the past, since the region hosted the central market of Thessaloniki during the Ottoman occupation. It was also known as the Egyptian market. However, after the Great Fire of 1917, the region declined until its full abandonment in the 1970’s. Since 1985, Ladadika has been declared as a heritage site from the Ministry of Culture in order to protect its impressive architectural style with the 19th century buildings.Today, Ladadika has evolved in to one of the most liveliest and vibrant neighbourhoods of the city with lots of small taverns, restaurants and bars. It is a favourite destination for both locals and visitors, especially for the nightlife!

Nea Paralia is the most beautiful promenade of Thessaloniki stretching over the waterfront of Thermaic Gulf along Nikes Avenue. It is such a huge privilege for Thessaloniki, and a few others European cities, to have such a large seafront, which has been recently regenerated, so that visitors and residents can enjoy walking by the sea! The coastal route from the city’s port to the Concert Hall of Thessaloniki is dotted with great monuments; from the White Tower, the trademark of the city, and the Statue of Alexander the Great to the Umbrellas sculpture and the 12 thematic gardens, it is definite that a seafront promenade of Thessaloniki is a must. It is highly advisable to enjoy the astonishing sunset from this vantage point, or even take a mini cruise of Thermaic Gulf to admire the city from afar.

Valaoritou is an old commercial area that dominated the fabric manufactories, which has been transformed into one of the favourite hangouts for locals and visitors during the recent years. It is quite interesting that the area experienced a successful transformation since some of the neoclassical buildings of the area have been renovated.Old shops on the surrounding streets were transformed in cozy cafes, elegant restaurants and vibrant bars for all tastes. Whichever is your music taste, from jazz, pop and rock to electronic and alternative, you will find your favourite spot to chill out. If you are visiting Thessaloniki during the summer, you will have the opportunity to discover the vibrant life on the streets Valaoritou, Fragon, Sygrou and Leontos Sofou. Undoubtedly, the region around Valaoritou is a must destination for travellers wanting to experience the city’s nightlife scene like a local. During the day, though, another world unwinds; little shops with house accessories, clothes, curtains and garden tools still operate in the streets. This will give an idea to the travellers of how the old markets used to run in Thessaloniki. In and around of Valaoritou, there are a series of beautiful buildings including the Catholic Church, the Conservatory of Thessaloniki, and the Stoa Building.

The Port of Thessaloniki is one of the largest seaports in the Aegean Sea that has been operating for 2,300 years. The city’s port has been classified as second in the relevant European competition organized by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO). Nowadays, the port of Thessaloniki has places of events, festivals, cultural activities and entertainment, a focal point for locals and visitors. The transformed warehouses of the Port house the Contemporary Art Centre of Thessaloniki, the Museum of Photography and the Film Museum. It is highly advisable to enjoy the astonishing sunset from the port of Thessaloniki!

Tsimiski Avenue is the most commercial street of Thessaloniki situated in the heart of the city. It was named after the Byzantine Emperor Ioannis Tsimiskis. Although the avenue was destroyed from the Great Fire of 1917, Ernest Hebrard, a French architect, was assigned to re-design the city centre of Thessaloniki. Tsimiski Avenue is extended from Aggelaki Street and the area of Thessaloniki International Trade Fair to Ionos Dragoumi Street, right after Venizelou Avenue.Along Tsimiski Avenue, visitors will have the opportunity to find fashion shops, shoe stores, boutiques, and bookstores. One of its busiest spots is the crossroad with Aristotelous Square, a meeting-point for Thessalonians. Mitropoleos Avenue is almost parallel to Tsimiski Avenue that along with Proxenou Koromila Street and Ermou Street host independent local stores and designer boutiques as well as famous luxury brand stores. Mitropoleos Street is famous for the city’s famous patisseries and smaller boutiques while the pedestrianised Agias Sofias Street is also a beautiful shopping area.

Sunset Spots

Spot: Castle of Heptapyrgio, Ano Poli

Spot: Statue of Alexander the Great, Nea Paralia

Spot: Port of Thessaloniki

Excursions

Road Trip: The Alistrati Cave is one of the most beautiful caves in Europe.According to mythology, Alistrati was one of the Gates of the Underworld and the allegedly location that Pluto hold Persephone, the daughter of Goddess Demeter, when he kidnapped her. Although the cave’s existence was known from the local society, it was in 1975 that the Hellenic Speleological Society was informed about its existence. Alistrati Cave covers a surface of 25,000 square meters and it has several; chambers with a heigh of 8 to 10 meters while it is richly decorated with stalactites and stalagmites in a variety of colours and shapes and its passages are 3 kilometers long, although only 1 kilometre can be visited. The cave is located 50 km from Serres, 25 km from Drama and 55 km from Kavala.

Road Trip: The Archaeological Site of Philippi is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BCE. The vibrant Hellenistic city of Philip II, of which the walls and their gates, the theatre and the funerary heroon (temple) are to be seen, was supplemented with Roman public buildings such as the Forum and a monumental terrace with temples to its north. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 CE. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity. (Source: unesco.org )

Road Trip: The Archaeological Site of Vergina is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece, if not Europe. Vergina was nominated with the UNESCO classification as “an exceptional testimony to a significant development in European civilisation, at the transition from classical city-state to the imperial structure of the Hellenistic and Roman periods”.Vergina is known as the site where Philip II was assassinated in 336 BC, and Alexander the Great was proclaimed king. Here, archaeology lovers or not, will admire one of the most astonishing archaeological discoveries of the 20th century; Macedonia’s history to all its grandeur, ready to unveil its mysteries.Undeniably, Vergina is a unique discovery with a huge universal impact.

Road Trip: The City of Kastoria is one of the most atmospheric cities of Greece. The noble lady of Western Macedonia will definitely seduce with her gorgeousness. Illusions and reflections on the surface of Orestiada lake could inspire even the Renaissance painters from their exclusive beauty. Kastoria is an ethereal city that reveals her authentic face through history and culture. .From the lakeside promenade of Orestiada, the 70 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches and the impressive 18th century mansions of Dolco neighborhood, the old town of Kastoria, to the long tradition of fur production from the renowned “gounarades”, the Ragoutsaria carnival custom, and the cultural museums of the city, Kastoria is a must visit. Million faces can be discovered through the seasons; frosty from the icy winter, colourful from the blossoming spring, tranquil under the summery sun and golden from the autumn leaves, Kastoria is an all year round destination!

Road Trip: The Edessa Waterfalls are the largest waterfalls in the Balkans. They are considered as one of the most beautiful sceneries of Macedonia located in the namesake city, which is the capital of Pella. Their height reaches 70 meters in height falling out from the edge of a rock. The intriguing story, however, is that the main volume of water of Edessa Waterfalls used to be held in a small basin at the west tip of the city until the end of the 14th century. Due to a geological phenomenon, the course of the waters changed, and passed through the town by forming this spectacular waterfall. It is really interesting that travellers of the 17th century describe the city of Edessa as a city built on a rock with many waterfalls. At that time, the waterfalls were hidden behind wild vegetation and it was quite difficult for travellers to witness them since they had to walk through inaccessible mountain trails. In 1942, the Germans exploited the waterfalls as a touristic landmark, the time when local residents built ponds to embellish the city. Following the end of the war, the waterfalls were granted to the Municipality of Edessa. Today, Edessa Waterfalls is considered to be a monument of immense natural beauty.

Road Trip: The Kerkini Lake is one of the most important European wetlands and it is considered as one of the best bird watching destination in Europe. It is one of the ten national parks of Greece. The lake is approximately 15 kilometers in length and its width reaches 8,5 kilometers. The surrounding region of Kerkini hosts the renowned Buffalos of Greece along with amphibian, snail and reptile species. The lake is also home to many species of mammals such as the Otter (Lutra Lutra), the Red Fox (Vulpes Vulpes), the Wildcat (Felis Sylvestris), the Grewy Wolf (Canis Lupus) the Wild Boars (Sus Scrofa), and the Golden Jackals (Canis Aureus) amongst others. Concerning invertebrates, there are at least 4,700 species, more than 1,396 of which are new species for Greece and at least 46 are new species for science. Kerkini Lake hosts more than 300 native and migratory bird species.Some of the most important species include the Pelican, the Pygmy Cormorant, the Bonelli’s Eagle, the Pelegrine Flacon, the Eurasian Hobby, the Levant Sparrow Hawk, the Purple Heron, the Northern Goshawk, and the White Tailed Eagle. Kerkini Lake promises an exhilarating bird watching experience all year round. Various activities are offered to visitors at Lake Kerkini such as canoeing, horseback riding, boat rides, hiking, and biking.

Road Trip: The Mount of Athos, else known as Holy Mountain, is a self-governed part of the Greek State, administrated by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, which has been included in the World Heritage Sites List of UNESCO. Mount Athos, the Autonomous Monastic State of the Holy Mountain, consists of twenty Orthodox monasteries standing on the eastern peninsula of Halkidiki. Mythology has it that Giant Athos threw a massive rock to god Poseidon that fell into the sea and became Mount Athos during a fight between the Gods and the Titans. Another legend, however, says that Virgin Mary’s hip was blown and docked on the peninsula of Athos while on her way to Cyprus; she was so amazed from the beauty of the peninsula that she blessed it. Subsequently, Mount Athos is called the Garden of Virgin Mary. The first monks to inhabit the region arrived on Mount Athos during the 5th century AD. The government body of the Holy Mountain is the Iera Kenotita, which literally translates to Holy Community, constituting of representatives from the twenty Holy Monasteries. Seventeen monasteries are Greek while the other three are Serbian, Bulgarian and Russian. Apart from the monasteries, there are twelve communities of monks and many solitary hermitages. Life in Mount Athos is simple and monastic. The monks believe that the way of man to find God is through solitude, prayer, exercise, obedience to the Spiritual Father, service and fasting. Women are not allowed to enter Mount Athos, only men. Both monks and visitors leave a simple life, without any modern facility. They eat small quantity of food, every day, mainly bread and olives, because they want to exercise their body in deprivation. They stay in the monastery cells or in caves, pray to God and do agricultural works.The monasteries are rich storehouses of medieval history. You can see paintings from the 13th century AD, music manuscripts from the Byzantine era, marble sculptures of columns, turrets, chalices, icon screens and exquisite miniatures in gold and silver dating back to the 12th century. Approximately one quarter of all the Greek works in the world are collected there in the form of more than fifteen thousands books and handwritten manuscripts. Mount Athos is approached by ferry from Ouranoupolis or Ierissos. Visitors must obtain their diamonitirion, a pass entrance, from the Agio Oros office in Thessaloniki. Apart from their passport, foreign visitors must possess a letter of recommendation from their embassy in Athens or consulate in Thessaloniki. Another required document for them is the entry permit from the Administration Division of Church Affairs at the Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens or Administration of Foreign Affairs at Ministry of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki. (Source: Greeka.com)

Road Trip: The Petralona Cave, else known as the Cave of Red Stones, is one of the most beautiful caves in Greece located in the namesake villa in Halkidiki. The cave was discovered from a villager who was trying to find water sources in 1959. Two young men “dived” to a depth of 13 meters with a rope, where they discovered impressive formations of stalagmites and stalactites. After that, the President of the Greek Speleological Society, John Petrohilos, carried out the first scientific exploration and study of the cave. The explorations revealed a number of chambers with a height of 10 meters and an impressive décor. Petralona Cave is an exquisite natural beauty monument with a heigh anthropological and paleontological interest. The most important finding was the cranium of a primitive man, unique in Greece, which is now at the University of Thessaloniki. He lived about 200,000 years ago, belongs to a transitional form, between Homo Erectus (the Standing Man) and Homo Sapiens (the Wise Man) and is the oldest testimony to the presence of humans in Greece. The cranium was covered with an encrustation of stalactite material. The fossils, together with a number of tools made of stone or bones, used by the primitive inhabitant of the cave, are exhibited at the Paleontological Museum, located only a few steps away from the cave. (Source: Visitgreece.gr)

Road Trip: The Pozar Baths is one of the most famous hot spring destinations in Northern Greece situated 25 kilometers from Edessa. It is a natural spring of hot water that have existed for thousands of years. The springs are located at a height of nearly 400 meters, and are “fueled” by rainwater, and thereafter the ground is heated and enriched with minerals. The water has constant temperature of 37 °C. The healing properties are suitable for circulatory and respiratory diseases, arthritis, kidney diseases, rheumatic and skin disease, and gynecological problems.

Road Trip: The Prespes Lakes is one of the ten national parks of Greece situated in the region of Western Macedonia. A wonderful landscape of immense natural beauty that was created from a series of seismic phenomena and glaciers, Mikri and Megali Prespa lakes is a magnificent natural monument one has to witness. The national park is the country’s largest nature reserve covering an area of 372 square kilometres and it is shared between Albania, FYROM and Greece. It is worth mentioning that Prespa Lakes is considered as one of the most important wetlands in Europe where a series of migratory, endangered and native bird species find shelter. At the Bird Observatory, bird-watching lovers with find members of the Hellenic Orthithological Society who will let you discover all the mysteries of Prespa Lakes through the telescope Travellers should not miss visiting the island of Agios Achillios where remnants of the namesake 10th century church can be observed. At the end of your journey, head to the traditional villages of Agios Germanos and Psarades to enjoy delicious fish specialties.

Road Trip: The Region of Halkidiki holds the reigns of one of the most exotic destinations of the country; endless golden sandy seashores with emerald and turquoise waters will take your breath away on this paradisiacal corner of Greece. Whether you choose Kassandra or Sithonia Peninsula, or even the peninsula of Mount Athos, your eyes will definitely be impressed from the almighty beauties of Halkidiki. Overshadowed from the massif forests of Cholomontas, the extraordinary terrain of Halkidiki hides millions of mysteries; from the monastic state of Athos, the Cave of Petralona and the island of Ammouliani to the valuable archaeological site of Olynthos, the lovely villages of Nea Fokea, Nikiti and Vourvourou and the steep cliffs of Porto Koufo, Halkidiki has it all. As we say, there is no other place like Halkidiki.

Activities

Bicycling: The city of Thessaloniki is an ideal place for cycling lovers. Thessaloniki offers a bicycle network of 12 kilometers bearing the bicycle lanes while the majority of the city’s monuments are easily accessible by bike. The bike sharing system in the Municipality of Thessaloniki, named I-BIKE, of THESSBIKE company, holds eight stations and a fleet of 200 bicycles, including two seat, four seat, electric bikes and vehicles for the handicapped. There are numerous bicycle rentals on Thessaloniki. Discover more information from Official Website of Thessaloniki.

Bird Watching: The flora and fauna of Macedonia is quite remarkable. Kerkini Lake and Prespes Lakes have a high ecological value, as they serves as major stations and shelters for endangered, native and migratory birds.

Diving: The varied coastline of Halkidiki offers numerous exciting explorations for diving enthusiasts. The three peninsulas of Halkidiki offer very interesting diving sites with beautiful reefs, underwater caves and old shipwrecks. The underwater reef of Bahia Beach, the rich underwater fauna of the island of Kelyfos, the rocks and reefs of Porto Elea, the marine life of Alonaki, the Mytilini German motoship shipwreck, the underwater world of Porto Valitsa, the rocky sides of Koursaros Bay, the shipwreck of an old iron Turkish ship and the underwater cave of Erika are some of the most interesting diving sites of Halkidiki. Various diving centers exist at the regions of Nikiti, Ouranoupoli, Pefkohori, Sani, Neos Marmaras, Kallithea, Paliouri, Ormylia, Sarti,

Thermal Springs: The Pozar Baths is one of the most famous hot spring destinations in Northern Greece situated 25 kilometers from Edessa. It is a natural spring of hot water that have existed for thousands of years. The springs are located at a height of nearly 400 meters, and are “fueled” by rainwater, and thereafter the ground is heated and enriched with minerals. The water has constant temperature of 37 °C. The healing properties are suitable for circulatory and respiratory diseases, arthritis, kidney diseases, rheumatic and skin disease, and gynecological problems.

Wine Tourism: If you are a wine lover, Thessaloniki will definitely spoil you. Three wineries open to the public, offering awarded wines at significant international contests, a Wine Museum exhibiting one of the largest corkscrew collections worldwide, an important annual wine-testing festival, an international Wine and Spirits Competition, wine bars, wine-tasting shows, as well as an urban vineyard in the center of the city! Furthermore, departing from Thessaloniki, you can enjoy your tour at the exceptional Wine Roads throughout Northern Greece, in an absolutely gorgeous landscape, among the areas’ rich cultural treasures. Discover more information from the Official Website of Thessaloniki!

Local Products

The local products of the Thessaloniki include the Thessaloniki bun, a crispy bun topped with sesame seeds, the famous bougatsa, a pie made with pastry and stuffed with cream, cheese, meat or spinach, and powdered with sugar, the trigono of Thessaloniki, else known as trigono Panoramatos, a dessert made of buttered sheets of fyllo that is filled with homemade pastry cream and syrup, the ambassador of which is Elenidis, the traditional kazan dipi, a dessert made with buffalo milk based on a recipe from Asia Minor, the tsoureki of Terkenlis filled with chocolate, and the millefeulles of Konstantinidis.

Events & Festivals

The Book Fair of Thessaloniki is a meeting point for book professionals and book readers all over the country. The Thessaloniki Book Fair is co-organized by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, TIF-HELEXPO and the Municipality of Thessaloniki, with the support of the Greek Publishers and under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.The fair takes place every May in the Thessaloniki International Exhibition & Congress Center TIF-HELEXPO.

The Dimitria Festival is one of the most important cultural events of Thessaloniki that pays respect to artistic and social issues including art, cinema, dance, drama, music, performance events and workshops. The aim of the festival is to create a dialogue with the city through the arts between people that coexist in this world. The festival takes place every October.

The Documentary Festival of Thessaloniki is a leading European Documentary Festival, carried out every March in Thessaloniki since its inception in 1999 under the artistic direction of Dimitri Eipides. Its main thematic sections are: Recordings of Memory, Portraits-Human Journeys, Stories to Tell, Habitat, Planet in Peril, Music, Views of the World, Greek Panorama. Through its tributes and retrospectives, the TDF focuses on filmmakers with unique cinematic voices, internationally renowned for their contribution to the documentary genre. The Festival’s side events host exhibitions, masterclasses, round table discussions, publications, concerts and parties. The festival takes place every March.

The Food Festival of Thessaloniki aims to present the culinary tradition of the city through a number of activities including culinary city tours, tasting sessions, workshops, days of flavors in libraries and much more.

The International Festival of Photography started off in 1988 with the inception of the photographer Aris Georgiou. Nowadays, the festival is organized from Thessaloniki’s Museum of Photography. Events and exhibitions are held in various venues of the city including bookshops, galleries and museums.

The International Film Festival of Thessaloniki is one of the most important film festivals of Europe! The festival was founded in 1960 as the Week of Greek Cinema, while it became international in 1992. Since then, Thessaloniki International Film Festival constantly evolves on a global scale by presenting independent and professional film productions from all over the world.

The International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki is an annual exhibition of significant commercial and political importance that takes place every September at the Thessaloniki International Exhibition & Congress Center TIF-HELEXPO.

The REWORKS International Music Festival of Thessaloniki is an institution that presents new musical and artistic paths and directions in one of the most historic parts of the Byzantine city of Thessaloniki. Each of its previous editions has been a landmark in the evolution of forward thinking entertainment, featuring influential musicians, creative artists of both local and international origin and a great party atmosphere augmented by the amazing weather that Greece still experiences at the end of the summer. The festival takes place every September in the city.

The Taratsa International Film Festival is an independent international short film festival based in Thessaloniki, Greece, organized by the cultural non-profit civil partnership 360 Degrees. It began in August 2014, as part of “Thessaloniki European Youth Capital”. Its purpose is to create a framework for the promotion of independent short films from Greece and all over the world -by bringing the audience closer to the production and establishing a place and time for the substantial interaction and artistic expression between the creators- as well as to present films that are considered benchmarks in the history of cinema.

History & Mythology

Mythology

According to mythology, the capital of the Macedonian kingdom is associated with the half god Hercules. A successor of Hercules, Timenos, travelled to southern Greece and became the founder of the kingdom of Argos. Karanos, Timenos’ grandson, failed to succeed his father, and the throne was given to his brother Phaedon. Consequently, Karanos followed the order of his father to “go and reign Makednia, the old kingdom of Herakelides”.

History

The region of Thessaloniki prefecture has been inhabited since the prehistoric times. However, Thessaloniki was established from King Cassander of Macedonia in 315 BC. The city was named in honour of a woman, the wife of Cassander and half-sister of Alexander the Great, who herself decided to commemorate her father’s, King Phillip’s II of Macedonia, military victory over a tribe in Thessaly, with the help of the Thessalian, who were considered to be the best horsemen in Greece,

During the Roman era, Thessaloniki served as an important commercial center due to its strategic location on the Thermaic Gulf and its proximity to Axios River valley. Following the country’s domination from the Romans, Thessaloniki became on of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, in the 2nd century BC. At that time, a huge harbor was constructed from the Romans who set the foundations of the city for economic development. During the 1st century AD, the city got a Jewish community while, thereafter, Apostle Paul preached in the Jewish synagogue and established a Christian church. He, also, wrote two letters to the city’s Christian community, the famous Epistles to the Thessalonians. After Constantinople was declared capital of the Byzantine Empire, Thessaloniki became Byzantium’s second city, the eastern imperial capital, and its population increased significantly, while trade became the main occupation of Thessaloniki’s residents.

Although a severe earthquake (620 AD) caused the destruction of the Roman market, Theessaloniki managed to recover.During the 7th century AD, and after a failed attempt from the Slavs to conquer the city, the Byzantine Emperor Michael III sent Cyril and Methodium monks, who were declared saints of the Greek Orthodox Church, to teach the Slavs the Christian religion in order to expand the Orthodox Byznatine literacy culture. In 904 AD, the Saracen pirates attacked Thessaloniki and enslaved twenty-two thousand people while the Crusaders conquered Constantinople and Thessaloniki in 1204. Nonetheless, the Byzantine took the city back in 1246. In the beginning of the 15th century, the Byzantine Emperors sold Thessaloniki to the Venetians since they were unable to protect it from the Ottomans. Though, in 1430, Thessaloniki was captured from the Ottomans. During their domination, the entire region of the castle was reformed and a series of baths and mosques were constructed. Although Thessaloniki remained under the Ottoman occupation for five centuries, the city enjoyed a great economic development. Its population rose significantly consisting of Christians, Muslims and Jews. Although the majority of the country was liberated after the 1821 War of Independence, Macedonia and Thessaloniki remained under the Ottoman domination. The city was liberated on October 27, 1912, during the First Balkan War and King George I of Greece settled in the city in order to stress the Greek possession of Thessaloniki, and he was murdered near the White Tower (1913).

In 1916, Eleftherios Venizelos, the Greek Prime Minister, established the movement of national defense and made Thessaloniki the capital of the Greek state by launching a new government. In August of 1917, a massive fire burnt most of the city and the 1923 population exchanges with Turkey followed from another one with Bulgaria in 1926. During World War II (1941), the Nazis dominated Thessaloniki until 1944. However, their bombardments destroyed major areas of the city and the majority of the Jewish population was slaughtered. After the war, the city was re-constructed until the unfortunate earthquake of 1977 that destroyed large parts of the city including some Byzantine monuments.

Travel & Transport

By Air: Thessaloniki “Makedonia” Airport is the third biggest airport in Greece. It operates international and domestic flights serving the city of Thessaloniki and the surrounding cities of the region.

By Train: International train connections exist, on a daily basis, between Thessaloniki – Sofia, Thessaloniki- Skopje- Belgrade and Thessaloniki – Sofia – Bucharest. Find more information from the Official Website of Trainose.

Mysterious Greece Tips

24 Hours in Thessaloniki

Start from the glorious 34-meter White Tower, the city’s landmark, where a museum that exhibits Thessaloniki’s’ history is housed within, and the Roman Agora, once the commercial center of the Macedonians, as well as the Rotunda of Galerius and the Arch of Galerius. Culture and history aficionados will have the opportunity to visit numerous museums; from the Municipal Art Gallery with a one-of-a-kind permanent exhibition housed in Casa Bianca, a preserved monument of contemporary architectural heritage, the 11 galleries of the Byzantine Museum, the splendid Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki that showcases Macedonia’s major prehistoric and ancient findings and the Museum of Contemporary Art with one of the richest collections of contemporary Greek art, to the War Museum that reconstructs the contemporary history of Greece with more than 10,000 memorabilia, the Olympic Museum, the sole museum of its kind, acknowledged from the International Olympic Committee, and the exhibition of the vast collection of documents that have survived through the Holocaust in the Jewish Museum, it is certain that Thessaloniki will fill your days with a unique historical and cultural experience. Head to the imposing walls of Ano Poli to admire the old town of Thessaloniki, where you can also visit the church of Agios Dimitrios, the patron saint of the city, that has been declared as a World Heritage Site from UNESCO. The view from the walls is just spectacular! A visit to Thessaloniki would be incomplete without a visit to the church of Agia Sofia that is distinguished for its exemplary mosaics, masterpieces of religious art. If you want to seize the day, the spot is no other than Aristotelous Square, the promenade of Tsimitski shopping street, and, of course, Nikis Avenue with the wonderful cafeterias overlooking the endless blue of the sea. The seafront of Thessaloniki is, undoubtedly, the favorite walk of the locals. Don’t miss enjoying the beautiful sunset from the seafront promenade! Choose Ladadika for delicious appetizers and traditional Greek recipes and head to Valaoritou Street to experience Thessaloniki by night.

Discover Ano Poli

A visit to Thessaloniki without a stop at Ano Poli would definitely be incomplete. Surrounded from the massive walls of the city, Ano Poli is, according to locals, the most beautiful and picturesque district of Thessaloniki. Narrow cobblestoned alleys, old squares, and traditional houses, samples of the Macedonian architecture, showcase how beautiful Thessaloniki used to be. Tsinari neighborhood is one of the most charming spots of the city full of traditional buildings and picturesque paths. It is a must to visit Ano Poli in the afternoon, as the sunset colors of the Macedonian sky will spellbound you!

Discover Thessaloniki on foot

The best way to get around Thessaloniki is on foot! It is advisable, though, to take a taxi to the city walls!

Find More Information

If you want to discover more information about Thessaloniki, visit the Official Website of Thessaloniki , Thessaloniki’ travel guide from Visit Greece the website of Enjoy Thessaloniki!

Explore the Wine Roads of Northern Greece

The Wine Producers Association of Northern Greece was established as a not-for-profit organization from the join efforts of 15 members in 1993. The aim of the association is to support the wine-making tradition of Greece and give the opportunity to the travellers to discover the hospitality of the vineyards of Northern Greece. Today, the 33 wineries that have joined forces within the association welcome visitors from all over the world to discover wineries open to visitors and explore the vine-growing region of Greece. Find out more information from the Official Website of the Wine Roads of Northern Greece!

Explore the Laladika District

Ladadika is the historical district of Thessaloniki! Two-storey colourful buildings with rectangular windows and cobblestone alleys showcase the spirit of how Thessaloniki once was. Its name was taken from the Greek word oil, as there were many oil shops trading olive oil in the past, since the region hosted the central market of Thessaloniki during the Ottoman occupation. Stroll around to admire the traditional architecture and relax in one of the many coffee shops and taverns in place no other than the heart of Thessaloniki.

Exotic Escape in Halkidiki

Whether you choose Kassandra or Sithonia Peninsula, or even the peninsula of Mount Athos, your eyes will definitely be impressed from the almighty beauties of Halkidiki. Overshadowed from the massif forests of Cholomontas, the extraordinary terrain of Halkidiki hides millions of mysteries; from the monastic state of Athos, the Cave of Petralona and the island of Ammouliani to the valuable archaeological site of Olynthos, the lovely villages of Nea Fokea, Nikiti and Vourvourou and the steep cliffs of Porto Koufo, Halkidiki has it all. As we say, there is no other place like Halkidiki. From lovely Arnea with its magnificent Macedonian mansions, the olives of Polygyros and the honey of Nikita to the magnificent forest of Cholomontas with its herbs and its mushrooms, the sandy seashores covered with pine forests and the magnificent rocks of Kavourotrypes, Halkidiki hides one million faces. The dreamy sceneries of Halkidiki transform as the direction of wind alternates; from utmost silence to heartbeat blast, this is what makes Halkidiki unique in its kind. Find out more information from our Halkidiki travel guide!

Experience Thessaloniki as a local

Undeniably, Nea Paralia is the favorite promenade of all the Thessalonians. Stretching over the waterfront of the Thermaic Gulf, it is a must to walk along this lovely part of the city. A few European cities have the privilege to have such a large seafront, which has been recently regenerated, so that visitors and residents can enjoy walking by the sea! The coastal route from the city’s port to the Concert Hall of Thessaloniki is dotted with great monuments; from the White Tower, the trademark of the city, and the Statue of Alexander the Great to the Umbrellas sculpture and the 12 thematic gardens, it is definite that you will fall in love with the seafront promenade of Thessaloniki.

Just for Museum Lovers

With more than X museums, Thessaloniki is definitely an ideal destination for museum lovers. Don’t leave the city without visiting the Archaeological Museum, the Contemporary Art Center of Thessaloniki, the Museum of Byzantine Culture and the Olympic Museum of Thessaloniki!

Mobile Made Easy: Thess Book

ThessBook is a very useful free mobile application that provides up-to-date local information for the city of Thessaloniki. Information you will find include pharmacies, gas stations, hospitals, banks, road traffic, supermarkets, police stations, restaurants, pastry shops, cocktail bars, and monuments.

Modiano Market & Louloudadika

Modiano Market is the city’s neighborhood with the food markets. Full of scents, colours and flavors, the market hosts shops with cheeses, spices, meats and fish. In and around the market, there are a series of traditional taverns. In this area, travellers will have the opportunity to discover the area of Louloudadika on the streets of Frangon, Komninon and Vassileos Irakliou. The district took its name from the old florists that used to sell flowers whose fame reached the provincial cities. Here is also the Ottoman bath Yahudi (Hebrew) Hamami, a 16th century building, that took its name from the Jewish shops that existed on that area. Following its restoration from the Great Fire of 1917, the old Hamam hosts various cultural events.

Observing like An Olympian God

The greatest view of Thessaloniki is, without a doubt, the walls of the city’s castle in Ano Poli!

Pay a visit to Gerovassiliou Wine Museum

The Gerovassiliou Wine Museum is one of the most interesting wine museums in Greece housed at the heart of the Estate’s winery. The museum was inaugurated by the ten-President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Karolos Papoulias. Vangelis Gerovassiliou’s vision was to enhance the viticulture tradition, and he began collecting bottling, winemaking and viticulture tools from all around the world since 1976. The museums’ collection exhibits rare pieces dating back to the 18th century, true symbols of the technological advances, high aesthetics and social structures of the era. Quality wine, its production and significance in human lives constitute the main museological axis of Gerovassiliou Wine Museum. The visiting hours of the museum are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10:00 to 16:00, Wednesday from 13:00 to 19:00 and Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00.

Petralona Cave: A must visit

The Petralona Cave, else known as the Cave of Red Stones, is one of the most beautiful caves in Greece located in the namesake village in Halkidiki. Petralona Cave is an exquisite natural beauty monument with a heigh anthropological and paleontological interest. The most important finding was the cranium of a primitive man, unique in Greece, which is now at the University of Thessaloniki. He lived about 200,000 years ago, belongs to a transitional form, between Homo Erectus (the Standing Man) and Homo Sapiens (the Wise Man) and is the oldest testimony to the presence of humans in Greece. The cranium was covered with an encrustation of stalactite material. The fossils, together with a number of tools made of stone or bones, used by the primitive inhabitant of the cave, are exhibited at the Paleontological Museum, located only a few steps away from the cave. (Source: Visitgreece.gr)

Taste the famous “trigona Thessalonikis”

Thessalonians’ favorite pastry is, unquestionably, the “trigona”, the ambassador of which is Elenidis since 1960. A sweet triangular cone filled with curstard cream and syrup is just fabulous!

Photo Credits

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Note: All the images are copyrighted from their owners. Please see Terms & Conditions. You can find the original images at the following links:

Aerial View of Thessaloniki: Alexandra V

Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki: Enjoythessaloniki.com

Arch of Galerius: Fil Fil

Bey Hamam: Thessaloniki.travel

Church of Propheet Elias: Thessaloniki.travel

Cyril and Methodius Column: Thessaloniki.travel

Halkidiki: Thessaloniki.travel

Kerkini Lake: Halit Volkan Cengiz

Ladadika: Soul Eyes Photography

Petralona Cave: Thessaloniki.travel

Pozar Baths: Dimitris

Roman Agora: Ephraim Ragasa

Staircase of the White Tower: Thessaloniki.travel

Statue of Alexander the Great: Liebesknabe

Sun Down: Siart_thess

Sunset: Kyriakos11 by Flickr

The Rotunda: Kyrsos.

The Umbrellas: Teo Karanikas

Thessaloniki: Aris Tagaridis

View from the Walls: Р Иванова

Yeni Tzami: Thessaloniki.travel