TRIP

Thessaloniki
“H νύμφη του Θερμαϊκού“

About

Location

Thessaloniki, also known as Salonika, is a historical city with a constant presence of more than 2300 years. Here, on these roads walked Roman Caesars and philosophers, Byzantine emperors and simple people of a different origin and history.

  • THESSALONIKI
THESSALONIKI
In 315 B.C. the Macedonian king Kassander married the step sister of Alexander the Great and gave to the new city, resulting from the union of 26 settlements, its name: Thessaloniki.

It was a flourishing city due to its good location. In less than two centuries after its foundation, the Romans conquered Thessaloniki and the whole of Macedonia.

In 42 B.C. Thessaloniki became a free city (civitas libere) and a period of peace and prosperity began. It’s not a coincidence that Saint Paul preached Christianity here around 50 A.D.

Thessaloniki was then a provincial capital of the Roman Empire and from 305 B.C. the seat of the emperor was occupied by Galerius who adorned the city with some famous monuments such as the Rotonda, the arch of Galerius ( Kamara) and others.Thessaloniki was then a provincial capital of the Roman Empire and from 305 B.C. the seat of the emperor was occupied by Galerius who adorned the city with some famous monuments such as the Rotonda, the arch of Galerius ( Kamara) and others.

Under the reign of Constantine the Great, Christianity became state religion and at that time many churches were erected. Visitor can still see many of them on a walk through the city.

During the centuries that followed Thessaloniki suffered from invasions by the Goths, Persians, Arabs, Venetians and Turks, but the city walls protected the inhabitants.

In the 9th century Cyrill and Methodios, brothers from Salonica, the apostles of the Slavs, left the city in order to go to northern countries and Christianize the population there.

During the course of the fourth crusade the city was occupied by the Franks for about 20 years and from1224 was the capital of the despot of Epirus.

After the threat of the Catalans, the city joined a golden era with a rich cultural and artistic life, famous monuments, richly decorated churches and well-known scholars.

The Turks conquered Thessaloniki in 1430 and there were separate districts within the city where Turks, Christians or Jews lived. Thousands of people settled in the city during the middle of the 15th century.

It became a cosmopolitan centre, an exciting city with an increasing population.

At the end of the 19th century a railroad connected Thessaloniki with central Europe and Constantinople. A tram pulled by horses and industrial plants were also made and it had become a European city, where the main part of the population consisted of Greeks.

On October the 26th in 1912 the city regained its freedom with the help of the Greek troops.

  • White Tower
  • The wall and the citadel
  • Ano Poli
  • Ancient Agora
  • The palace
  • The arch of Galerius
  • Rotonda
  • Agios Demetrius
  • Agia Sophia
  • Vlatadon-monastery
  • Osios David
  • Achiropoiitos
  • Agioi Apostoloi
  • Agios Panteleimonas
  • Agios Nicolaos Orfanos
  • Panagia Chalkeon
  • Archaeological museum
  • Byzantine museum
  • Byzantine cistern and baths
  • Alaca Imaret
  • Mosque Hamza Bey
  • Bey Hamam
  • Bezesteni-Bazaar
White Tower

Built about 1430, it was used in the fortification of the city. The Turks used it as a prison for long term prisoners. It has a height of 34 m and the interior is really worth seeing. The city’s history is presented there in a very impressive way.

The wall and the citadel

From the very beginning Thessaloniki was fortified by strong walls. Today, half of the original 8 km have been preserved. The citadel’s interior (Eptapyrgion) was a Byzantine fortification and in more recent years was used as a prison.

Ano Poli

The picturesque old city quarter is located right below the citadel with its small gardens and the old paved roads.

Ancient Agora

For a long time it was the commercial, social and administrative centre of the city. It was once a large square surrounded by colonnades. At the south-east corner, near the modern entrance, the ancient baths, whose construction still shows the glamour and luxury of former times, can be found.

The palace

Located at the modern Navarino square, near the Rotonda and the arch of Galerius, are the ruins of the palace of the emperor Galerius.

The arch of Galerius

The arch of Galerius is located in the centre of the modern city. Originally it was a hall with a colonnade (stoa) which led, during the Roman period, from the Rotonda to the palace. Nowadays, its western part has been preserved. Impressive depictions of relief of the goddesses of victory, symposia and battles can still be seen there today.

Rotonda

The Rotonda is very likely one of the most famous monuments of the Roman period worldwide. It was built about 303 as a sanctuary or a mausoleum .In the early Christian period it was transformed into a church by the emperor, Theodosius. The wonderful mosaics were made during this period .When the Turks occupied Thessaloniki, the monument was used as a mosque. Its minaret, the only one in Thessaloniki, is still well preserved.

Agios Demetrius

The church is dedicated to the patron saint of Thessaloniki and it’s one of its oldest churches. It was built on the ruins of extensive Roman baths, where saint Demetrius was incarcerated and died a martyr’s death in 303. In the 5th century an impressive basilica was erected and adorned with some beautiful mosaics, marble columns and splendid capitals. The restoration works started after a devastating fire in1917 destroyed a large part of Thessaloniki and the church.

Agia Sophia

The church is dedicated to the wisdom of God and it is located in the city’s centre where, during the Byzantine period, was the administrative centre. It was built during the period of iconoclasm (when religious images were prohibited), in the beginning of the 8th century. It is believed that the mosaics were made some time between the 8th – 12th century .The most impressive is the mosaic found in the imposing dome, which is the Ascension of Christ of the 9th century. Some frescoes can be seen there as well, decorating the arches of the south wall and depicting regional saints and monks.

Vlatadon-monastery

The Vlatadon- monastery was built near the citadel in the 14th century, occupying the place where Saint Paul preached. The old catholicon can be seen with the “bema”, the place of the sermon. It’s the only one of twenty monasteries of Thessaloniki to have survived to the present day. The library has a collection of valuable manuscripts.

Osios David

Near the citadel the church of Blessed ( Osios ) David was erected, once belonging to the Latomou- monastery. This church dates back to the late 5th or 6th century. It’s one of the most important monuments of Thessaloniki and Byzantine art. The very well preserved mosaic in the apse is worth seeing and depicts the vision of the prophet Ezekiel. The mosaics date from the 5th -7th century, while the frescoes were created in the 12th century or in the period of the Palaiologoi (13th-14th century).

Achiropoiitos

The church is located in the Byzantine centre of Thessaloniki and it’s the oldest basilica of the East. Achiropoiitos means “not man made” and refers to an icon of the Virgin Mary. The basilica was built in the 5thcentury and the restoration works done during the 7th and the 14th or the 15th century. It was once dedicated to the Mother of God. The frescoes were made in the 13th century.

Agioi Apostoloi

The church of the Apostles was built at the beginning of the 14th century, in the “golden age” of Thessaloniki. The city was then a great spiritual and cultural centre. Due to the marvelous frescoes and mosaics, as well as the architecture and the richness of ceramoplastic decoration outside, it’s one of the most beautiful and important monuments of the city. The monastery was founded in the beginning of the 14th century and was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It’s unknown how the name “Agioi Apostoloi” gained acceptance in the 19th century. The mosaics and frescoes were made in the beginning of the 14th century.

Agios Panteleimonas

In the northeast of the Kamara, the church of Saint Panteleimonas was built. The name is of new origin and it was most likely the catholicon of a monastery dating from the 14th century.

Agios Nicolaos Orfanos

Built in the 14th century, the church served as a catholicon of a Byzantine monastery.” Orfanos” means “orphan” and refers to the founder, Saint Nicolas. From the 17th century onwards it was part of the Vlatadon- monastery. The church is of particular interest for its paintings. These are early 14th century and their subjects are arranged in zones.

Panagia Chalkeon

In the modern city’s centre, in Aristotle Square, is the almost 1000 year old Byzantine church of Panagia Chalkeon, meaning “Mother of God of the coppersmiths”.

Archaeological museum

You shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the Archaeological Museum. It contains finds from the whole of northern Greece, such as prehistoric finds from Thrace and Macedonia, as well as vases, copper, tombs, jewelry from the geometric period, statues from the archaic and classical period, weapons, beautiful gold jewelry from Macedonia in general. Within each exhibition the visitor receives information about ancient art, economy, religion and more.

Byzantine museum

The Byzantine museum impresses the visitor with its rich collection of precious icons, unique tomb constructions, funerary inscriptions, gold coins, pottery, glassware, mosaics, household crafts, liturgical items and manuscripts from different centuries covering the whole period of the Byzantine history.

Byzantine cistern and baths

The building is located in Olymbiados Street. It’s a rectangular building with thick walls. The domes of the roof have not been preserved. During the Byzantine period it was used as a cistern and provided the city with water. Not far away, in Theotokopoulou Street, another Byzantine public building has been preserved. Built at around 1300, the baths were in use until 1940.

Alaca Imaret

The mosque was built about 1484 (Ottoman period) by Isak Pasha, in the northeast of the church of Saint Demetrius. Some rooms served as a religious school and a poorhouse (Imaret). Nowadays the building is used for cultural events.

Mosque Hamza Bey

Erected in 1467/68 by the daughter of the military commander Hamza Bey, the small mosque was extended even before 1592, when the Turkish population increased. According to an inscription, the mosque was rebuilt in 1620 after an earthquake or a fire. Its original shape changed after a cinema and some other shops were housed in the building.

Bey Hamam

In Aristotle Square, the oldest Ottoman building of Thessaloniki can be seen. Also known as “Bath of Paradise”, it is the largest bath that survived in the city and was built in 1444 by sultan Murat II. It was in use until 1968 and nowadays it is used for cultural events and exhibitions.

Bezesteni-Bazaar

One of the best known examples of Ottoman architecture is located in the commercial centre of Thessaloniki. The Bezesteni- Bazaar was built in the 15th century for the goldsmiths and drapers to house their precious products.