The capital of Northern Greece is the second Greek city of importance after Athens. With the establishment in recent years of many factories, it has experienced amazing economic and industrial growth. Moreover, it is an important cultural center as well. It possesses one of the biggest Balkan universities, a Teaching Academy, the Ecumenic Institute, two State Schools of Music, and several Cultural Societies.
Thessaloniki was founded by Cassander, King of Macedonia ( 315 B. C. ), who named the new city after his wife, Thessaloniki Alexander the Great’ s sister. It was the favorite city of the Macedonian Kings, its popularity continuing even after Macedonia became a Roman province in 148B. C. Much later, in the Byzantine era, it was the second most important city of the Empire, after Constantinople.
Alexander the Great statue in Thessaloniki
Byzantine chronicles refer to it as ” the most splendid and proudest city “, ” the Reigning City “, and ” the populous City “, for Thessaloniki was not only the cultural and political center of the Byzantine Empire. It also remained for centuries the uncaptured citadel, successfully repulsing wave after wave of attacks by different barbaric hordes.
The medieval monuments which remain in Thessaloniki today testify to their former splendor and truly great prosperity.
The following are worth visiting: The Archaeological Museum with its numerous interesting exhibits of the Classical and Roman periods, including the ” Dervenion Crater “. The Church of Saint Demetrius( the city’s patron saint ), a five – naved basilica, built over the Saint’s tomb in the 5th century A. D., is one of the most superb monuments of the Greek Orthodox tradition. Besides its architectural worth and the wealth of its carvings, its mosaics, which cover a period dating from the 6th to the 9th century A. D., are especially remarkable. The Rotonda, another noteworthy monument is a circular building erected in 306 A. D. In the reign of Theodosius the Great it was turned into a Christian church. The mosaics embellishing its arches and the imposing dome belong to this later period.
Other interesting churches are ” Acheiropoietos ” ( not made by hand ), one of the best examples of the ancient Greek Christian basilica style ( 5th century ); the Church of Panaghia Chalkeon ( Holy Virgin of the Coppersmiths ), ( 11th century ); the Church of Aghia Sophia, an early domed basilica ( 6th century ) with splendid mosaics; the Church of Twelve Apostles ( 13th century ) with special ornamental brickwork; the Monastery of Vlatadon with a small chapel of cruciform type ( 14th century ). There are also the medieval walls of the town and the triumphal Arch of Emperor Galerius on the Via Egnatia built in 303 A. D. The Venetian White Tower, the Thessaloniki’s prominent landmark, was built in the 15th century.
Thessaloniki also has several country places for rest and leisure: Aghia Triada, 25 km out of town is a wooded seaside district; Nea Mechaniona, a lovely holiday resort offering a fine beach and plenty of fresh fish. Panorama, Asvestohori, and Hortiati are mountain resorts.
Thessalonik Port view
Boy Statue in Thessaloniki