Walking around is a great way to explore any city, whether you are familiar with it or not, so why would Thessaloniki differ? Start walking, just for the sake of it, while enjoying the journey. Explore the city’s landmark, the White Tower,
located on the seaside promenade. Within the tower runs a museum showcasing Thessaloniki’s history from its foundation up to 1922 as well as a charming collection concerning the city’s glorious Byzantine past. The fortified cylindrical structure (33.9m height and 22.7m diameter) was built in the 15th century during the reign of Süleyman the Magnificent and was later used during the Ottoman rule as a place of execution, which was called Canli Casteli meaning “tower of blood”. The origin of its current name dates to the 19th c.
At a short distance from the Tower you can visit the Vassiliko Theatre, built in 1940, which is home to the National Theatre of Northern Greece NTNG. The three storey, recently renovated 11,000m2 building, accommodates numerous playhouses.
Head to Aristotelous,
the most significant and popular square
in town overlooking the Thermaic Gulf, from where you can even see Mt. Olympus when the weather is clear. Enjoy the view of stately buildings, which were built following the large fire of 1917, by Ernest Hébrard (commissioned by El. Venizelos the Greek Prime Minister) along with other Greek and foreign architects. Walk along the coast, next to Nikis Boulevard, which extends from the city port on the west to the statue of Alexander the Great on east, where you’ll come across a number of cozy cafes, bars and shops.
Stop by the Palace complex of Galerius
and see the Octagon building
intended to be a throne hall with its impressive mosaics, the Rotonda (containing Early Christian mosaics) and Galerius Arch (aka Kamara) built in ca. 305 A. D.
Visit the Ancient Agora
(dating 3rd c. B.C. to the 5th c. A.D.) where you will see the ruins of the market, a mint, a conservatory, the (most probably) City Archives room, public bath facilities, taverna, brothel, as well as other finds. An ancient temple and early Christian tombs ( 4th-7th c.) were revealed after excavations under Γ’ Septemvriou St.
Get to know another aspect of the city’s history by stopping at the Byzantine Baths
, near Koule Kafe square. It is a rare sample of Byzantine Baths dating back to the end of the 13th century.
Make a point of visiting the Ishak Pasha Tzami Mosque
(1484), near Kassandrou St. and the Hamza Bey Tzami Mosque
(aka Alkazar) (1467), located among Egnatia and Venizelou streets, which was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt in 1620. Stop by Bey Hamam (1444), on Egnatia Odos St., Pasha Hamam (1520), Pazar and Yeni Hamam.
Moreover, the city of Thessaloniki is a renowned shopping destination;
the main shopping streets are Tsimiski, Ermou, Egnatia, Mitropoleos and the environs. Make sure to pass by the old fashioned food markets of Modiano
(built in 1922). Enjoy your day out among the shops housed in the market’s arcades or sit and relax in one of the charming cafes and traditional eateries (mezedopolio)!
Another fascinating market to explore is the 15th c. Bezesteni Textile Market
(Venizelou and Solomou St.) where you’ll find a sheer variety of fabrics in all colors and designs.
Jaunt around Thessaloniki’s port where the customs and warehouse buildings (built in 1910) are home to the Photography and Cinema Museums but are also used as venues for the International Film Festival.
Last but not least, don’t miss the nearby Ladadika neighbourhood,
the best place to soak up the vibrant nightlife scene in Thessaloniki near Aristotelous square. This is where you’ll enjoy the night out in restaurants and nightclubs in old restored buildings that were saved by the 1917 fires.
More things to see:
- the Y.M.C.A.’s stately building (greek abbreviation Χ.Α.Ν.Θ.),
- the OTE tower from where you can enjoy a birds eye view of the city,
- the Holocaust memorial on Eleftherias Square, dedicated to the Greek Jews who were executed by the Nazis (1942),
- the large number of churches and museums of the city will make your trip to Thessaloniki unforgettable!