The city of Thessaloniki Greece was founded in 315 BC  by King Cassander of Macedonia. It was named after Cassander’s wife and half-sister of Alexander the Great . Soon it became an important urban center because of its location, and after the Romans had conquered Greece, in the 2nd century BC, it became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia. The Romans built a spacious harbor and set the foundations for the city’s flourishing. In the first century, Thessaloniki got a Jewish community. Later on, the Apostle Paul would preach in the Jewish synagogue, establish a Christian church and write two letters to the Christian community of the city, known as the Epistles to the Thessalonians.

After Constantinople was made the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Thessaloniki would progressively turn into the second largest city of the whole Empire. The population started to increase and trade was the main occupation of its residents. The Byzantine Emperors of the early 15th century were unable to protect the city from the Ottoman Empire and sold it to the Venetians. However, the Ottomans managed to siege Thessaloniki in 1430. They reformed the Castle and built many mosques and baths, some of which survive till today. Although the city was under Turkish occupation for five centuries, its development didn’t stop and people took advantage of the Ottoman reforms. The population continued to increase and consisted of Christians, Muslims and Jews Thessaloniki was liberated from the Turks on October 27th, 1912, during the First Balkan War. In 1941, during World War II, the Nazi Troops got into the city and their occupation lasted until 1944. When the war ended, the city was rebuilt and became a modern European city. The industry and trade developed in the decades that followed.. In 1988, the Early Christian and Byzantine sites of Thessaloniki were declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Monuments and in 1997, it became the European City of Culture.

Today Thessaloniki is  an Important  University City and hub of Medical Studies.

Ottoman monuments

  • The White Tower (15th century), the hallmark of the city.
  • The Mosques of the Hamza Bey Cami (15th century), the Aladja Imaret Cami (1484) and the Yeni Cami  (1902).
  • Hamams (turkish bathhouses): The Pazar Hamam (15th century), the Pasha Hamam (15th century), Bey Hamam (16th century), Yeni Hamam and the Yahudi Hamam.
  • Bezesteni, a rectangular building with lead-covered domes and four entraces was built in the late fifteenth century and operated as a cloth market.

Archaeological sites

  • The ancient forum (dated to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD)
  • 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 Rotonda is an early 4th century building which later was converted into a Christian church.

Byzantine monuments

Thessaloniki, with its host of Byzantine monuments (due to it’s significance during the Byzantine period), justifiably is considered an open-air museum of Byzantine art. Wandering through the city, it is worthwhile to see:

  • The churches of Acheiropoietos (5th century) a three-aisled, timber-roofed basilica, the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia) (7th century), the Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios  Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the katholikon and two cisterns within the precinct survive, Ayios Demetrios asplendid basilica dedicated to the patron saint and protector of the city, etc.
  • The byzantine walls of the city
  • The byzantine bathhouse (late thirteenth century).
  • The Heptapyrgion castle was raised in stages, from the early years of the Byzantine Age into the Ottoman period.

Museums of  Thessaloniki

  • Archaeological Museum (6, M. Andronikou street, tel.: 2310-831,037) An exciting tour of the history of ancient Macedonia through important findings dating back to the end of 6th century B.C. The museum was inaugurated in October 1962.
  • Byzantine Civilization Museum (2, L. Stratou street, tel.: 2310-868.570): one of the most important museums of the country, with valuable Byzantine exhibits dating back from the Early Byzantine period to the Turkish occupation. The museum often hosts modern art works and cultural events.
  • Museum of ancient Greek, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine instruments (12-14 Katouni street, Ladadika, tel.: 2310-555.263). More than 200 instruments dating from the Copper era until early 20th century are exposed in the three chambers of the restored building..
  • Municipal Art Gallery (162, Vassilisis Olgas street, tel.:: 2310-425.531). Housed in Mordoch mansion, it exposes Greek painters’ works, placing the emphasis on artists from Thessaloniki.
  • Jewish Museum (13 Aghiou Mina street, tel.: 2310-250,406-7) Housed in a preserved building built in 1904, it presents the historical course of the Jews of Thessaloniki until their genocide by the Nazis during German occupation.
  • Thessaloniki History Center (Ippodamiou square, tel.: 2310-264,668) was founded in 1983 by the Municipality of Thessaloniki. It exposes historical documents, plans and gravures of the city.
  • Cinematography Museum (Port of Thessaloniki, tel.: 2310-508,398): It exposes rare machines, negatives, photos and films from cinemas dating back to the pre-war period.
  • Macedonia-Thrace Folklore and Ethnological Museum (68, Vassilisis Olgas street, tel.:: 2310-812.343): It is housed in the preserved mansion of G. Modiano and exhibits about 15,000 items of special interest.
  • Macedonian Museum of Contemporary art (International Fair of Thessaloniki, tel.: 2310-281.567). The museum houses, among other things, paintings, sculptures, engravings, photos and films made by Greek or foreign artists.
  • Museum of the Macedonian Struggle (23, Proxenou Koromila street, tel.: 2310 229778). Housed in the neoclassical building of the 19th century, it hosts an exhibition of heirlooms associated with the Macedonian struggle and photos dating back to the period from 1900 to 1912.