Thessaloniki Travel Guide

The second largest city of Greece, Thessaloniki is the jewel of the north. Famous for its lively streets, vibrant night life and cultural signature, it is the perfect cosmopolitan destination for any visitor.

Thessaloniki was founded by Kassandros in 316 BCE on the place where ancient Therme once stood and because of its location over the centuries it became an important commercial, political, and cultural center of the Balkan peninsula. Over the centuries its streets have supported pockets of affluent minorities, and its port acted as the sea gate of central europe to the Aegean and the markets of the near-east. Salonika, as it is otherwise known, was the second most important city of the Byzantine empire.

Its diverse history has sprinkled Thessaloniki with ruins of ancient Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, Balkan, and European origin. For eons it has been the home of affluent minorities of Turkish, Serbian, and Jewish origin; all of which have left their mark on the rich cultural identity of the city. The city has also been scarred by numerous of catastrophic events such as the earthquakes in 620 that leveled the city, and in 1978 which damaged most of the Byzantine monuments, and the severe fire of 1917 which destroyed 9000 homes, and left 90000 inhabitants homeless. Six years later Thessaloniki became host to a great number of the one million Greeks who left Asia Minor as part of the population exchange agreed at the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

Its strategic location made Thessaloniki a magnet not only for commercial and cultural activity, but also for countless invasions and occupations. Romans, Normans, Slavs, Bulgarians, Franks, Turks, Venetians, and Germans, have all left their mark in the city through their stay for various lengths of time. Between the 6th and 7th century Slavic invasions devastated the surrounding area and forced the rural population to find refuge behind the city walls, while in the 10th and 11th centuries Bulgaria established its power in the area with repeated invasions before Byzantine rule is established again. Eventually, the Venetians ruled the city until 1430 when the Turks invaded. In the15th century jews fleeing prosecution from many European cities find a home in Salonika, and in 1912 it became part of modern Greece. During WWII, nearly 50000 Jewish inhabitants of Thessaloniki were sent to Auschwitz, and of these, about 37500 were immediately gassed.

Today, Thessaloniki's population is almost exclusively made up of Greek inhabitants. Its grounds are a patch work of different commercial, and cultural influences. The city is divided in two by the International Trade Grounds and the Aristotle University. From there, all the way to the waterfront one finds the boulevards, shopping areas, and night clubs of the cosmopolitan Thessaloniki. The west part of the city is dominated by the industrial area and it is densely populated, while the east end includes Touba and Kalamaria areas which were rebuilt after the fire of 1917 and still retain much of its original character. The upper town (Ano Poli) developed around the castle (Genti-Koule) and the Acropolis offer narrow street taverns and beautiful panoramic views of the entire city.

What to Do and See in Thessaloniki

Cultural Events:

Places of Interest

Byzantine Churches

Thessaloniki is the second most important exhibition place of Byzantine monuments after Istanbul.

Places of Interest Near Thessaloniki

Useful Telephone Numbers

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