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 amodern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm.
The White Tower
The history of Thessaloniki’s most famous landmark, the pacific White Tower, is actually bathed in blood. In 1826 Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II massacred rebellious janissaries (elite troops of forcibly Islamicised Christian boys) here. After the 1913 Greek reconquest, the ‘bloody tower’ was whitewashed to expunge this grisly past. Although the whitewash is long gone, the name stuck.
The tower’s interactive museum presents Thessaloniki’s history through multimedia displays.
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.
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.
- Royal Theatre
- 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.