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About city Gallery Where to stay

The traveller-beloved Greek city of Thessaloniki has never been so cheerful, culturally rich and affordable. This city, the country’s second-largest, is characterised by many excellent restaurants, museums and a turbulent night life, regularly enkindled by the thousands of local and foreign youths studying at the city’s universities. It’s a real crossroad, leading to the Greek islands, Turkey, the Balkans and other regions of the country. Compared to Athens, Thessaloniki is also much safer and more relaxing.

In terms of cultural heritage, this city is just as rich as any other region of Greece. One of its main architectural symbols is the White Tower, located on the seashore. It’s a bloody monument to the Ottoman Empire – during occupation, this restored Byzantine tower was turned into a dreadful prison, where many city dwellers were tortured to death. In 1912, the locals took their city back and painted the tower white, transforming it into the symbol it is today. The tower also has a museum, where you can learn about the development of Thessaloniki from the ancient, through Roman and Byzantine periods to the present day.

Many archaeological artefacts were also discovered during the digging of the city’s metro line. This encouraged an even broader discussion on how to preserve the city’s historic heritage in the modern world. Here you’ll find many churches, ancient and Roman Empire ruins, heritage from the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires and many other nations. Thessaloniki was also always home to a large Jewish community.

The Church of Agios Demetrios
Photo taken by ActFree - wikimedia.org.  The Church of Agios Demetrios

Over the ages, the city was devastated not just by wars and occupations, but also by earthquakes and fires, which make it appreciate today’s peace even more.

In 2012, to commemorate the 100th birthday of the city's repatriation, the government of Thessaloniki announced a large-scale development plan, aimed at freeing up space in the city centre and changing the urban environment in a comprehensive way to make it more attractive to the locals and visitors alike. The International Exhibition Centre has been moved outside the city limits to make way for a large future park. There are also plans to renovate the city embankment; move the military bases further away from the centre; make more room for cultural spaces, pedestrian zones and alleys; develop the city harbour; and turn several districts into business centres. The government hopes to accomplish all this by the year 2025.

Aristotle Square is the main city square and is located on Nikis avenue (on the city's waterfront)
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Aristotle Square is the main city square and is located on Nikis avenue (on the city's waterfront)

But even without these changes, Thessaloniki is considered to be the cultural capital of Greece – the city became the European Capital of Culture as far back as 1997. Thessaloniki is rich in theatre halls and open-air amphitheatres, where you can enjoy performances on warm summer evenings – almost like in ancient times.

Two of the most important city museums, which should be visited by every enthusiast of the regional and city history, are the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture. Most people are also impressed by the Thessaloniki Science Centre and Technology Museum, which is among the most modern of its kind in Southern Europe.

The Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace organized the first European assembly “Bell Roads” and a bell bearers parade in Thessaloniki
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace organized the first European assembly “Bell Roads” and a bell bearers parade in Thessaloniki

The Thessaloniki Global Exchange and the city’s International Film Festival attract many guests from all over the world, and really put the city – and the whole country – on the map. Thessaloniki also hosts gay pride parades, song contests, fairs and, of course, sports events. And yet, the biggest pleasure to be had here is to visit one of the many renovated coastal cafés and eat a traditional puff pastry, called bougatsa, with meat, cheese or sweet sauce and wash it down with the traditional (some even think it was invented here) Thessalonikian coffee drink frappe.

Where to stay

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