THESSALONIKI

Greece

Thessaloniki (Greek:Θεσσαλονίκη) is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is η Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or "co-reigning" city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople.

Info Thessaloniki

introduction

Thessaloniki (Greek:Θεσσαλονίκη) is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of Greek Macedonia, the administrative region of Central Macedonia and the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace. Its nickname is η Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally "the co-capital", a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa) or "co-reigning" city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople.

The municipality of Thessaloniki, the historical center, had a population of 385,406  in 2007, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area had a population of 800,764. and the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area had 1,104,460 inhabitants in 2011.

Thessaloniki is Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and the southeastern European hinterland.  The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general,  and is considered to be Greece's cultural capital. Events such as theThessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital.

The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, and passed from the Ottoman Empire to modern Greece on 8 November 1912.

Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as severalRoman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. The city's main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans.

Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece. For 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine (Foreign Direct Investments) declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle. Among street photographers, the center of Thessaloniki is also considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece.

info
POPULATION :• Municipality 385,406
• Urban 800,764
• Metro 1,084,001
FOUNDED : Founded 315 BC 
Incorporated Oct. 1912 
TIME ZONE :• Time zone EET (UTC+2)
• Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
LANGUAGE : Greek
RELIGION : Greek Orthodox
AREA :• Municipality 19,307 km2 (7,454 sq mi)
• Urban 111.703 km2 (43.129 sq mi)
• Metro 1,455.62 km2 (562.02 sq mi)
ELEVATION :Highest elevation 250 m (820 ft)
Lowest elevation 0 m (0 ft)
COORDINATES : 40.65°N 22.9°E
SEX RATIO : Male: 49.35%
 Female: 50.65%
ETHNIC : Greek 93%, other (foreign citizens) 7%
AREA CODE : 231
POSTAL CODE : 53xxx, 54xxx, 55xxx, 56xxx
DIALING CODE : +30 231
WEBSITE :  www.thessaloniki.gr

Tourism

Thessaloniki is renowned for its major shopping streets and lively laneways.Tsimiski Street and Proxenou Koromila avenue are the city's most famous shopping streets and are among Greece's most expensive and exclusive high streets. The city is also home to one of Greece's most famous and prestigious hotels, Makedonia Palace hotel, the Hyatt Regency Casino and hotel (the biggest casino in Greece and one of the biggest in Europe) and Waterland, the largest water park in southeastern Europe.

The city has long been known in Greece for its vibrant city culture, including having the most cafes and bars per capita of any city in Europe; and as having some of the best nightlife and entertainment in the country, thanks to its large young population and multicultural feel. 

Thessaloniki is not only regarded as the cultural and entertainment capital of northern Greece but also the cultural capital of the country. The city's main theaters, run by the National Theatre of Northern Greece (Greek: Κρατικό Θέατρο Βορείου Ελλάδος) which was established in 1961, include theTheater of the Society of Macedonian Studies, where the National Theater is based, the Royal Theater (Vasiliko Theatro) -the first base of the National Theater-, Moni Lazariston, and the Earth Theater and Forest Theater, both amphitheatrical open-air theatres overlooking the city.

Thessaloniki's proximity to places such as the national parks of Pieria and beaches of Chalkidiki often allow its residents to easily have access to some of the best outdoor recreation in Europe; however, the city is also right next to theSeich Sou forest national park, just 3.5 km (2 mi) away from Thessaloniki's city center; and offers residents and visitors alike, quiet viewpoints towards the city, mountain bike trails and landscaped hiking paths. The city's zoo, which is operated by the municipality of Thessaloniki, is also located nearby the national park.

Because of the city's rich and diverse history, Thessaloniki houses many museums dealing with many different eras in history. Two of the city's most famous museums include the Archaeological Museum of Thessalonikiand the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

Thessaloniki is home of a number of festivals and events.  The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair is the most important event to be hosted in the city annually, by means of economic development. It was first established in 1926 and takes place every year at the 180,000 m2 (1,937,503.88 sq ft) Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center. The event attracts major political attention and it is customary for the Prime Minister of Greece to outline his administration's policies for the next year, during event. Over 250,000 visitors attended the exposition in 2010. The new Art Thessaloniki, is starting first time 29.10. - 01.11.2015 as an international contemporary art fair. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is established as one of the most important film festivals in Southern Europe, with a number of notable film makers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas and Fatih Akın taking part, and was established in 1960.


Tourist Information

There are tourist info and ticket booths at the central bus stations. You can get a free bus line chart there. The tourist information office is at Tsimiski 136, a few minutes from the White Tower. It is open M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa 8:30AM-2PM, Sun closed. If you find it closed, walk up to Aristotelous and buy a map from Iannos bookshop. You can also visit the OASTH website.

History

From antiquity to the Roman Empire

The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great and princess of Macedon as daughter of Philip II. Under the kingdom of Macedon the city retained its own autonomy and parliament and evolved to become the most important city in Macedon.

After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon in 168 BC, Thessalonica became a free city of the Roman Republic under Mark Antony in 41 BC. It grew to be an important trade-hub located on the Via Egnatia, the road connecting Dyrrhachium with Byzantium, which facilitated trade between Thessaloniki and great centers of commerce such as Rome and Byzantium. Thessaloniki also lay at the southern end of the main north-south route through the Balkans along the valleys of the Morava and Axios river valleys, thereby linking the Balkans with the rest of Greece. The city later became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia. Later it became the capital of all the Greek provinces of the Roman Empire because of the city's importance in the Balkan peninsula.

At the time of the Roman Empire, about 50 A.D., Thessaloniki was also an important center for the spread of Christianity; while on his second missionary journey, Paul the Apostle visited this city's chief synagogue on three Sabbaths and sowed the seeds for Thessaloniki's first Christian church. Later, Paul wrote two letters to the new church at Thessaloniki, preserved in the Bible canon as First and Second Thessalonians. Some scholars hold that the First Epistle to the Thessalonians is the first written book of the New Testament.

In 306 AD, Thessaloníki acquired a patron saint, St. Demetrius, a native of Thessalonica whom Galerius put to death. A basilical church was first built in the 5th century AD dedicated to St.Demetrius.

When the Roman Empire was divided into the tetrarchy, Thessaloniki became the administrative capital of one of the four portions of the Empire under Galerius Maximianus Caesar, where Galerius commissioned an imperial palace, a new hippodrome, a triumphal arch and a mausoleum among others.

In 379, when the Roman Prefecture of Illyricum was divided between the East and West Roman Empires, Thessaloniki became the capital of the new Prefecture of Illyricum. In 390, Gothic troops under the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, led amassacre against the inhabitants of Thessalonica, who had risen in revolt against the Gothic soldiers. With the Fall of Rome in 476, Thessaloniki became the second-largest city of the Eastern Roman Empire.


Byzantine era and Middle Ages

From the first years of the Byzantine Empire, Thessaloniki was considered the second city in the Empire after Constantinople, both in terms of wealth and size. with a population of 150,000 in the mid-12th century. The city held this status until it was transferred to Venice in 1423. In the 14th century, the city's population exceeded 100,000 to 150,000, making it larger than London at the time.

During the 6th and 7th centuries, the area around Thessaloniki was invaded by Avars and Slavs, who unsuccessfully laid siege to the city several times, as narrated in the Miracles of Saint Demetrius.Traditional historiography stipulates that many Slavs settled in the hinterland of Thessaloniki; however, this migration was allegedly on a much smaller scale than previously thought. In the 9th century, the Byzantine Greek missionaries Cyril and Methodius, both natives of the city, created the first literary language of the Slavs, the Glagolic alphabet, most likely based on the Slavic dialect used in the hinterland of their hometown.

An Arab naval attack in 904 resulted in the sack of the city. The economic expansion of the city continued through the 12th century as the rule of the Komnenoi emperors expanded Byzantine control to the north. Thessaloniki passed out of Byzantine hands in 1204, when Constantinople was captured by the forces of the Fourth Crusade and incorporated the city and its surrounding territories in the Kingdom of Thessalonica— which then became the largest vassal of the Latin Empire. In 1224, the Kingdom of Thessalonica was overrun by the Despotate of Epirus, a remnant of the former Byzantine Empire, underTheodore Komnenos Doukas who crowned himself Emperor, and the city became the Despotate's capital. This era of the Despotate of Epirus is also known as the Empire of Thessalonica. Following his defeat at Klokotnitsa however in 1230, the Empire of Thessalonica became a vassal state of the Second Bulgarian Empire until it was recovered again in 1246, this time by the Nicaean Empire. In 1342, the city saw the rise of the Commune of the Zealots, an anti-aristocratic party formed of sailors and the poor, which is nowadays described as social-revolutionary. The city was practically independent of the rest of the Empire, as it had its own government, a form of republic. The zealot movement was overthrown in 1350 and the city was reunited with the rest of the Empire.

In 1423, Despot Andronicus, who was in charge of the city, ceded it to the Republic of Venice with the hope that it could be protected from the Ottomans who were besieging the city (there is no evidence to support the oft-repeated story that he sold the city to them). The Venetians held Thessaloniki until it was captured by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II on 29 March 1430.


Ottoman period

When Sultan Murad II captured Thessaloniki and sacked it in 1430, contemporary reports estimated that about one-fifth of the city's population was enslaved. Upon the conquest of Thessaloniki, some of its inhabitants escaped, including intellectuals such as Theodorus Gaza "Thessalonicensis" and Andronicus Callistus. However, the change of sovereignty from the Byzantine Empire to the Ottoman one did not affect the city's prestige as a major imperial city and trading hub. Thessaloniki and Smyrna, although smaller in size than Constantinople, were the Ottoman Empire's most important trading hubs. Thessaloniki's importance was mostly in the field of shipping,  but also in manufacturing, while most of the city's trade was controlled by ethnic Greeks.

During the Ottoman period, the city's population of mainly Greek Jews, then as now now called Romaniotes, and Ottoman Muslims (including those of Turkish and Albanian origin, as well as Bulgarian Muslim and Greek Muslim convert origin) grew substantially. According to the 1478 census Selânik (سلانیك), as the city came to be known in Ottoman Turkish, had a population of 4,320 Muslims, 6,094 Greek Orthodox and some Catholics. No Jews were recorded in the census. Soon after the turn of the 15th to 16th century, however, nearly 20,000 Sephardic Jews immigrated to Greece from the Iberian Peninsula following their expulsion from Spain by the 1492 Alhambra Decree. By c. 1500, the numbers had grown to 7,986 Greeks, 8,575 Muslims, and 3,770 Jews. By 1519, Sephardic Jews numbered 15,715, 54% of the city's population. Some historians consider the Ottoman regime's invitation to Jewish settlement was a strategy to prevent the ethnic Greek population (Eastern Orthodox Christians) from dominating the city.

Thessaloniki was the capital of the Sanjak of Selanik within the wider Rumeli Eyalet (Balkans) until 1826, and subsequently the capital of Selanik Eyalet(after 1867, the Selanik Vilayet). This consisted of the sanjaks of Selanik,Serres and Drama between 1826 and 1912. Thessaloniki was also a Janissary stronghold where novice Janissaries were trained. In June 1826, regular Ottoman soldiers attacked and destroyed the Janissary base in Thessaloniki while also killing over 10,000 Janissaries, an event known as The Auspicious Incident in Ottoman history. From 1870, driven by economic growth, the city's population expanded by 70%, reaching 135,000 in 1917.

The last few decades of Ottoman control over the city were an era of revival, particularly in terms of the city's infrastructure. It was at that time that the Ottoman administration of the city acquired an "official" face with the creation of the Command Post while a number of new public buildings were built in the eclectic style in order to project the European face both of Thessaloniki and the Ottoman Empire. The city walls were torn down between 1869 and 1889, efforts for a planned expansion of the city are evident as early as 1879, the first tram service started in 1888 and the city streets were illuminated with electric lamp posts in 1908. In 1888 Thessaloniki was connected to Central Europe via rail through Belgrade, Monastir in 1893 and Constantinople in 1896. In 1917 the Great Fire of Thessaloniki destroyed 2/3 of the city, especially the central area where many of the Jews lived. Over 70,000 people were left homeless. The government took over what had been Jewish property and relocated the burned-out Jewish citizens to the city's outskirts.


20th century and since

In the early 20th century, Thessaloniki was in the center of radical activities by various groups; the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, founded in 1897, and the Greek Macedonian Committee, founded in 1903. In 1903 an anarchist group known as the Boatmen of Thessaloniki planted bombs in several buildings in Thessaloniki, including the Ottoman Bank, with some assistance from the IMRO. The Greek consulate in Ottoman Thessaloniki (now the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle) served as the center of operations for the Greek guerillas. In 1908 the Young Turks movement broke out in the city, sparking the Young Turk Revolution.

As the First Balkan War broke out, Greece declared war on the Ottoman Empire and expanded its borders. When Eleftherios Venizelos, Prime Minister at the time, was asked if the Greek army should move towards Thessaloniki or Monastir (now Bitola, Republic of Macedonia), Venizelos replied "Salonique à tout prix!" (Thessaloniki, at all costs!). As both Greece and Bulgaria wanted Thessaloniki, the Ottoman garrison of the city entered negotiations with both armies. On 8 November 1912 (26 October Old Style), the feast day of the city's patron saint,Saint Demetrius, the Greek Army accepted the surrender of the Ottoman garrison at Thessaloniki. The Bulgarian army arrived one day after the surrender of the city to Greece and Tahsin Pasha, ruler of the city, told the Bulgarian officials that "I have only one Thessaloniki, which I have surrendered". After the Second Balkan War, Thessaloniki and the rest of the Greek portion of Macedonia were officially annexed to Greece by the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913. On 18 March 1913 George I of Greece was assassinated in the city by Alexandros Schinas.

In 1915, during World War I, a large Allied expeditionary force established a base at Thessaloniki for operations against pro-German Bulgaria. This culminated in the establishment of the Macedonian Front, also known as the Salonika Front. In 1916, pro-Venizelist Greek army officers and civilians, with the support of the Allies, launched an uprising, creating a pro-Allied temporary government by the name of the "Provisional Government of National Defence" that controlled the "New Lands" (lands that were gained by Greece in the Balkan Wars, most of Northern Greece including Greek Macedonia, the North Aegean as well as the island of Crete);the official government of the King in Athens, the "State of Athens",controlled "Old Greece"which were traditionally monarchist. The State of Thessaloniki was disestablished with the unification of the two opposing Greek governments under Venizelos, following the abdication of King Constantine in 1917.

On 30 December 1915 an Austrian air raid on Thessaloniki alarmed many town civilians and killed at least one person, and in response the Allied troops based there arrested the German and Austrian and Bulgarian and Turkish vice-consuls and their families and dependents and put them on a battleship, and billeted troops in their consulate buildings in Thessaloniki.

Most of the old center of the city was destroyed by the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917, which was started accidentally by an unattended kitchen fire on 18 August 1917. The fire swept through the centre of the city, leaving 72,000 people homeless; according to the Pallis Report, most of them were Jewish (50,000). Many businesses were destroyed, as a result, 70% of the population were unemployed. Two churches and many synagogues and mosques were lost. Nearly one-quarter of the total population of approximately 271,157 became homeless. Following the fire the government prohibited quick rebuilding, so it could implement the new redesign of the city according to the European-style urban plan prepared by a group of architects, including the Briton Thomas Mawson, and headed by French architect Ernest Hébrard. Property values fell from 6.5 million Greek drachmas to 750,000.

After the defeat of Greece in the Greco-Turkish War and during the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, a population exchange took place between Greece and Turkey. Over 160,000 ethnic Greeks deported from the former Ottoman Empire - particularly Greeks from western Asia Minor and Pontic Greeks as well as Caucasus Greeks from various parts of Eastern Anatolia and the South Caucasus - were resettled in the city, changing its demographics. Additionally many of the city's Muslims, including Ottoman Greek Muslims, were deported to Turkey, ranging at about 20,000 people.

During World War II Thessaloniki was heavily bombarded by Fascist Italy (with 232 people dead, 871 wounded and over 800 buildings damaged or destroyed in November 1940 alone), and, the Italians having failed in their invasion of Greece, it fell to the forces of Nazi Germany on 8 April 1941 and remained under German occupation until 30 October 1944 when it was liberated by the Greek People's Liberation Army. The Nazis soon forced the Jewish residents into a ghetto near the railroads and on 15 March 1943 began the deportation process of the city's 56,000 Jews to its Nazi concentration camps. They deported over 43,000 of the city's Jews in concentration camps, where most were killed in gas chambers. The Germans also deported 11,000 Jews to forced labor camps, where most perished. Only 1,200 Jews live in the city today.

The importance of Thessaloniki to Nazi Germany can be demonstrated by the fact that, initially, Hitler had planned to incorporate it directly in the Third Reich (that is, make it part of Germany) and not have it controlled by a puppet state such as the Hellenic State or an ally of Germany (Thessaloniki had been promised to Yugoslavia as a reward for joining the Axis on 25 March 1941). Having been the first major city in Greece to fall to the occupying forces just two days after the German invasion, it was in Thessaloniki that the first Greek resistance group was formed (under the name «Ελευθερία», Eleftheria, "Freedom") as well as the first anti-Nazi newspaper in an occupied territory anywhere in Europe, also by the name Eleftheria. Thessaloniki was also home to a military camp-converted-concentration camp, known in German as "Konzentrationslager Pavlo Mela" (Pavlos Melas Concentration Camp), where members of the resistance and other non-favourable people towards the German occupation from all over Greece were held either to be killed or sent to concentration camps elsewhere in Europe. In the 1946 monarchy referendum, the majority of the locals voted in favour of a republic, contrary to the rest of Greece.

After the war, Thessaloniki was rebuilt with large-scale development of new infrastructure and industry throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Many of its architectural treasures still remain, adding value to the city as a tourist destination, while several early Christian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988. In 1997, Thessaloniki was celebrated as the European Capital of Culture, sponsoring events across the city and the region. Agency established to oversee the cultural activities of that year 1997 was still in existence by 2010. In 2004 the city hosted a number of the football events as part of the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Today, Thessaloniki has become one of the most important trade and business hubs in Southeastern Europe, with its port, the Port of Thessaloniki being one of the largest in the Aegean and facilitating trade throughout the Balkan hinterland. On 26 October 2012 the city celebrated its centennial since its incorporation into Greece. The city also forms one of the largest student centres in Southeastern Europe, is host to the largest student population in Greece and will be the European Youth Capital in 2014.

Climate

Thessaloniki's climate is directly affected by the sea it is situated on. The city lies in a transitional climatic zone, so its climate displays characteristics of several climates. According to the Köppen climate classification, it is a Mediterranean climate (Csa) that borders on asemi-arid climate (BSk), as well as a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), observed on the periphery of the region. With annual average precipitation of 450 mm (17.7 inches) due to the Pindus rain shadow drying the westerly winds. However, the city has a summer precipitation between 20 to 30 mm (0.79 to 1.18 inches), which is high for the typical Mediterranean climate (Csa), and increases gradually towards the north and west, turning humid subtropical.

Winters are relatively dry, with common morning frost. Snowfalls are sporadic, but οccur more or less every winter, but the snow cover does not last for more than a few days. Fog is common, with an average of 193 foggy days in a year. During the coldest winters, temperatures can drop to −10 °C (14 °F). The record minimum temperature in Thessaloniki was −14 °C (7 °F).  On average, Thessaloniki experiences frost (sub-zero temperature) 32 days a year. The coldest month of the year in the city is January, with an average 24-hour temperature of 6 °C (43 °F). Wind is also usual in the winter months, with December and January having an average wind speed of 26 km/h (16 mph).

Thessaloniki's summers are hot with rather humid nights. Maximum temperatures usually rise above 30 °C (86 °F), but rarely go over 40 °C (104 °F); the average number of days the temperature is above 32 °C (90 °F) is 32. The maximum recorded temperature in the city was 42 °C (108 °F). Rain seldom falls in summer, mainly during thunderstorms. In the summer months Thessaloniki also experiences strong heat waves. The hottest month of the year in the city is July, with an average 24-hour temperature of 26 °C (79 °F). The average wind speed for June and July in Thessaloniki is 20 kilometres per hour (12 mph).

Climate data for Thessaloniki

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)20.8
(69.4)
22.0
(71.6)
25.8
(78.4)
31.2
(88.2)
36.0
(96.8)
39.8
(103.6)
42.0
(107.6)
38.2
(100.8)
36.2
(97.2)
30.0
(86)
26.6
(79.9)
20.6
(69.1)
42.0
(107.6)
Average high °C (°F)9.3
(48.7)
10.9
(51.6)
14.2
(57.6)
19.0
(66.2)
24.5
(76.1)
29.2
(84.6)
31.5
(88.7)
31.1
(88)
27.2
(81)
21.2
(70.2)
15.4
(59.7)
11.0
(51.8)
20.4
(68.7)
Daily mean °C (°F)5.3
(41.5)
6.6
(43.9)
9.4
(48.9)
13.3
(55.9)
18.3
(64.9)
22.8
(73)
25.1
(77.2)
24.7
(76.5)
21.1
(70)
16.0
(60.8)
11.1
(52)
7.0
(44.6)
15.1
(59.2)
Average low °C (°F)1.3
(34.3)
2.2
(36)
4.5
(40.1)
7.5
(45.5)
12.1
(53.8)
16.3
(61.3)
18.6
(65.5)
18.3
(64.9)
14.9
(58.8)
10.8
(51.4)
6.8
(44.2)
3.0
(37.4)
9.7
(49.5)
Record low °C (°F)−14.0
(6.8)
−12.8
(9)
−7.2
(19)
−1.2
(29.8)
3.0
(37.4)
6.8
(44.2)
9.6
(49.3)
8.2
(46.8)
2.6
(36.7)
−1.4
(29.5)
−6.2
(20.8)
−9.2
(15.4)
−14.0
(6.8)
              
Source: World Meteorological Organization (UN)

Geography

Thessaloniki lies on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf on its eastern coast and is bound by Mount Chortiatis on its southeast. Its proximity to imposing mountain ranges, hills and fault lines, especially towards its southeast have historically made the city prone to geological changes.

Economy

Thessaloniki rose to economic prominence as a major economic hub in the Balkans during the years of the Roman Empire. The Pax Romana and the city's strategic position allowed for the facilitation of trade between Rome and Byzantium (later Constantinople and now Istanbul) through Thessaloniki by means of the Via Egnatia. The Via Egnatia also functioned as an important line of communication between the Roman Empire and the nations of Asia, particularly in relation to the Silk Road. With the partition of the Roman Emp. into East (Byzantine) and West, Thessaloniki became the second-largest city of the Eastern Roman Empire after New Rome (Constantinople) in terms of economic might. Under the Empire, Thessaloniki was the largest port in the Balkans. As the city passed from Byzantium to the Republic of Venice in 1423, it was subsequently conquered by the Ottoman Empire. Under Ottoman rule the city retained its position as the most important trading hub in the Balkans. Manufacturing, shipping and trade were the most important components of the city's economy during the Ottoman period, and the majority of the city's trade at the time was controlled by ethnic Greeks.

Historically important industries for the economy of Thessaloniki included tobacco(in 1946 35% of all tobacco companies in Greece were headquartered in the city, and 44% in 1979) and banking (in Ottoman years Thessaloniki was a major center for investment from western Europe, with the Bank of Thessaloniki (French: Banque de Salonique) having a capital of 20 million French francs in 1909).


Services

The service sector accounts for nearly two thirds of the total labour force of Thessaloniki. Of those working in services, 20% were employed in trade, 13% in education and healthcare, 7.1% in real estate, 6.3% in transport, communications & storing, 6.1% in the finance industry & service-providing organizations, 5.7% in public administration & insurance services and 5.4% in hotels & restaurants.

The city's port, the Port of Thessaloniki, is one of the largest ports in the Aegean and as a free port, it functions as a major gateway to the Balkan hinterland. In 2010, more than 15.8 million tons of products went through the city's port, making it the second-largest port in Greece after Aghioi Theodoroi, surpassing Piraeus. At 273,282 TEUs, it is also Greece's second-largest container port after Piraeus. As a result, the city is a major transportation hub for the whole of south-eastern Europe, carrying, among other things, trade to and from the neighbouring countries.

In recent years Thessaloniki has begun to turn into a major port for cruising in the eastern Mediterranean.The Greek ministry of tourism considers Thessaloniki to be Greece's second most important commercial port,  and companies such as Royal Caribbean International have expressed interest in adding the Port of Thessaloniki to their destinations. A total of 30 cruise ships are expected to arrive at Thessaloniki in 2011.

In recent years a spate of factory shut downs has occurred as companies take advantage of cheaper labour markets and more lax regulations in other areas. Among the largest companies to shut down factories are Goodyear, AVEZ (the first industrial factory in northern Greece, built in 1926), and VIAMIL (ΒΙΑΜΥΛ). Nevertheless, Thessaloniki still remains a major business hub in the Balkans, with a number of important Greek companies headquartered in the city, such as the Hellenic Vehicle Industry, the Macedonian Milk Industry, Philkeram Johnson and MLS Multimedia, which introduced the first Greek-built smartphone in 2012.

Subdivisions

The central part, corresponding to the region that used to be inside the Byzantine walls and can in turn be divided in the "Ano Poli" (Upper City) region which lies on the hillside that is actually the southwest end of Chortiatis, and the part of the city located between the Upper City and the sea.

The later is the "center" of Thessaloniki, as most commercial, entertainment and educational facilities can be found here, while this part of the city remains a dense populated residential area. It is the area surrounded by the seafront to the southwest, Olibiados street to the northeast, Dimokratias square to the northwest and the University campus and the facilities of Thessaloniki International Fair to the southeast. Most places with tourist interest are either in the center or very close to it.

Most roads in the center are either parallel, or either vertical to the sea. A simple rule that helps the visitor is that if the a street goes downhill, then following it will lead you to the sea. The biggest parallel streets to the sea starting from the sea are Leoforos Nikis, Tsimiski Ioanni, Egnatia, Agiou Dimitriou and Kassandrou. The main vertical to the sea streets, starting from northwest, are Dragoumi Ionos, Venizelou Eleftheriou, Aristotelous, Agias Sofias and Ethinikis Aminis.

Internet, Comunication

There are many Internet cafes and bars, restaurants or coffee shops that offer free wireless internet (wi-fi).

There are also free Wi-Fi hotspots in several public places: Thessaloniki International Fair, in the park outside the White Tower, and on Aristotelous Square.

At Thessaloniki airport, go up to the restaurant on the 2nd floor for free, fast (16 Mbps) wifi (SSID "Goodbye Free Wifi").

Prices in Thessaloniki

PRICES LIST - EUR

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter€1.10
Tomatoes1 kg€1.33
Cheese0.5 kg€4.80
Apples1 kg€1.25
Oranges1 kg€1.20
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€1.00
Bottle of Wine1 bottle€6.00
Coca-Cola2 liters€2.05
Bread1 piece€0.60
Water1.5 l€0.70

PRICES LIST - EUR

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2€24.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2€40.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2
Mac Meal or similar1 meal€6.00
Water0.33 l€0.50
Cappuccino1 cup€3.20
Beer (Imported)0.33 l€4.00
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€3.50
Coca-Cola0.33 l€1.37
Coctail drink1 drink€9.00

PRICES LIST - EUR

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets€12.00
Gym1 month€35.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut€7.50
Theatar2 tickets€36.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.€0.24
Pack of Marlboro1 pack€4.00

PRICES LIST - EUR

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack€8.00
Tampons32 pieces€4.45
Deodorant50 ml.€3.20
Shampoo400 ml.€3.80
Toilet paper4 rolls€1.90
Toothpaste1 tube€2.55

PRICES LIST - EUR

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1€74.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1€30.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1€75.00
Leather shoes1€90.00

PRICES LIST - EUR

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter€1.41
TaxiStart€3.00
Taxi1 km€0.70
Local Transport1 ticket€1.00

Tourist (Backpacker)  

44 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

127 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

The airport of Thessaloniki is called Macedonia International Airport (IATA: SKG) and lies 15 km south of the city center. The airport sees highly seasonal traffic, obviously peaking in the summer months. International destinations particularly well served include the major airports of Germany, as well as former Soviet Union countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan or Latvia.

The domestic flight network is quite extensive, with most flights provided by either Aegean Airlines, its regional subsidiary Olympic Air and Astra Airlines, an operator of subsidized public-service-obligation flights to less frequently served destinations. Domestic connections are also partially seasonal, and encompass a range of Greek Islands.

Apart from those, the majority of flights are charter and seasonal flights by holiday specialists. There is also substantial low-fare traffic by pretty much all major low-fare carriers in Europe, with Ryanair having a base at the airport and the largest number of connections out of those. When it comes to traditional international airlines, the airport is mainly served by those belonging to the Star Alliance, which also includes Aegean and Olympic, such as Austrian, Turkish and Swiss.

The airport is not as well served as the airport in Athens, to which it is connected by multiple daily flights taking around 50 minutes, provided by multiple airlines. Aegean's frequent shuttle flights are of particular interest, as they can be booked on a common ticket with an Aegean or other Star Alliance flight to other destinations in Europe and beyond.

If you are departing from SKG on an international flight taking you out of the EU zone, bear in mind that there are only four passport control booths (with one dedicated solely to EU citizens), so the queues to access the extra-Schengen gates (12 through 19) even when they are all operating can exceed 40 minutes at peak times, and it's 40 minutes of shoving and aggravation.


Connection to the city centre

The airport is 15 km south of the city centre. The public transit connection is provided by bus line 78, a 24x7 service between the airport, the New Railway Station and the Macedonia InterCity Bus Terminal. Frequency is between 15 min and 30 min during the day. At night, the bus number changes to 78N and runs every 30 minutes. A ticket costs €2 for one trip (see Get around: By bus). It's about a 40-min ride from the airport to the city centre. There is ticket machine on every bus, although exact change is needed.

Attention: Bus number 79 from the airport does not get you to the city centre but to A.S. IKEA bus terminal in the city's east side.

A taxi ride from the city centre costs about €15-20. It's hard to find one during peak hours (07:00-08:00, 14:00-16:00 and 19:00-21:00), so plan early.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

The Greek Railway Company is called OSE (ΟΣΕ). The trains are operated under the name TrainOSE. There are daily regional trains to Veroia-Edessa and Katerini-Larissa, three trains to Florina, six InterCity (IC) trains and one night-train to Athens via Platy-Katerini-Larissa-Palaiofarsalos-Domokos-Leianokladi-Leivadia-Thiva-Oinoi-SKA-Athens (approx 5h20min), two trains to Kilkis-Serres-Drama-Xanthi-Komotini-Alexandroupoli and one train to Karditsa-Trikala-Kalampaka.

International connections to Thessaloniki were suspended in February 2011 due to the worsening financial situation in Greece. However, in May 2014 train service to/from Belgrade and Sofia resumed, and there is currently one train per day between Thessaloniki and Sofia/Belgrade.

There are normally employees at all major stations to facilitate transportation of disabled persons.

  • New Railway Station (Νέος Σιδηροδρομικός Σταθμός), Monastiriou St 28, City Centre,  Infoline telephone number: 1110.
  • TrainOSE travel service (Thessaloniki TrainOSE travel service No. 4), 18 Aristotelous Str.,  +30 2310 598120. Recorded information about train departures are provided by Trainose, call 1440 for domestic departures from Thessaloniki.

Discounts

Ask for these discounts even if the TRAINOSE employee does not mention them:

  • Children (ages 4-12) get a 50% discount.
  • Youth under 26 and elderly over 65 get a 25% discount (not on ICE).
  • Disabled people and their escort get a 50% discount.
  • Groups get a 30%-50% discount.
  • Two-way trips also get a discount.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

Thessaloniki is connected via the intercity KTEL bus network with every corner of Greece.

  • OSE Travel Service (Thessaloniki OSE travel service No. 4), 18 Aristotelous Str.+30 2310 598120. Information regarding the time-tables of foreign buses is available from OSE/HTO: +30 210 5298739, 30 210 5298740, +30 210 5135768, +30 210 5135769
  • Buses for Chalkidiii depart from KTEL Chalkidikis Bus Terminal in the east side district of Pylaia, access through Kountourioti St or National Road EO67

Prominent long-distance bus connections

  • Athens - KTEL Buses from/to Athens make the trip from/to Thessaloniki in about 6 hr 30 min, including a 20 min stop at a roadside restaurant, usually near Lamia, with toilet facilities. Buses are air-conditioned, and some offer WiFi internet access.
  • Belgrade - There are a number of weekly departures to Belgrade (Serbia) from Thessaloniki and Athens, in the arrangement of the Greek and Serbian Agency. Ticket price in one direction from Thessaloniki to Belgrade is about €45
  • Tirana - There are a number of buses to Thessaloniki and Athens every day, departing from most major Albanian cities. You can catch a bus from Tirana or Shkodra and travel all the way south, making stops in most major Albanian and Greek cities. Since buses stop to pick up and drop passengers in most major cities, you can catch the bus at those cities en route.
  • Skopje - A number of local travel agencies in Skopje also arrange transport to Thessaloniki daily by car or minibus. These generally leave around 05:00, and cost around €25 for a day return (returning at 17:00) or a single (i.e. €50 if you want to come back on a different day from when you leave) The travel agent at the back of the shopping mall by the Central Square arranges this departing from beside the Holiday Inn. Others depart from the bus station, or other locations around the city. Simeonidis tours, N⁰ 14, 26th October St. There is one bus daily departing for Thessaloniki from the central bus station in Skopje and it takes about 5 hr to Thessaloniki. It departs at 06:00. Reservations are recommended.
  • Sofia - There are at least four daily buses from Sofia, Bulgaria which pass through Thessaloniki, plus several non-daily. Prices are generally around 50BGN (€25). See here for more info.

Transportation - Get In

By Car

  • Athens about 5 hr (Highway A1, E75)
  • Belgrade in Serbia about 7 hr (A1, E75)
  • Istanbul in Turkey about 8 hr (A2, E90)
  • Tirana in Northeastern Albania about 6 hr (Α29 and Α2)
  • Sofia in Northwest Bulgaria about 4 hr (Α25, Ε79)
  • Constanta in Romania about 8 hr.

One of the burdens for visitors and inhabitants alike is finding parking, so be prepared to either spend a lot of time looking for a place or pay for space in the parking lot (starting from €4 for 3 hr). Don't assume you're safe from paying a fine just because locals flagrantly flout parking laws. Traffic congestion is a problem, largely due to double-parked cars, but generally fellow drivers and passers-by are helpful in showing you the way if you're lost.


Transportation - Get Around

Transportation - Get Around

By bus

The city's bus company is called OASTH and runs a total of 80 different bus lines, which are the only public transportation within the city. Maps of the bus routes are available on OASTH's website [www]. Bus services usually operate from 05:00 until just after midnight.

Bus number 50 ("cultural line") follows a figure-of-8 route past all the major tourist sights. There is an English speaking guide aboard, who provides you with maps and information. The whole route takes 50 min, and it departs every hour on the hour from the White Tower. The connection to the airport is provided by bus 78, which runs as 78N in the night (the only night bus line in the city).


Tickets

Tickets can be bought at OASTH's ticket outlets and on the buses. Certain types of tickets (see below) are also available at various other sales points. There are five types of tickets available:

  • One journey ticket: €1.00 from OASTH's ticket outlets or other selling points, €1.10 on the bus; valid for one journey on all lines except 50, 78 and 78N.
  • Two journey ticket: €1.20 from OASTH's ticket outlets or other selling points, €1.30 on the bus; valid for two journeys on all lines except 50, 78 and 78N, the second journey starting within 70 minutes of the first.
  • Three journey ticket: €1.50 from OASTH's ticket outlets or on the bus; valid for three journeys on all lines except 50, 78 and 78N, the third journey starting within 90 minutes of the first.
  • Four journey ticket: €2.00 from OASTH's ticket outlets or on the bus; valid for four journeys on all lines except 50, 78 and 78N, the fourth journey starting within 120 minutes of the first.
  • Airport line (78/78N) / Cultural line (50) ticket: €2.00 from OASTH's ticket outlets or on the bus; valid only on lines 50, 78 and 78N.

Students, persons aged over 65, and persons with over 67% disability get a 50% discount if they have the documents required by OASTH to prove it. Accompanied children under the age of six ride for free.

1, 3, 6 and 12-month cards for unlimited journeys on all lines (including the Airport line 78/78N and the Cultural line 50) are also available. Note that they are valid from the first day of the month the where issued until the last day of the month / third month / sixth month / year. A photo-ID and a recent photograph are required to issue such cards. An one-month card costs €30.

Transportation - Get Around

By bicycle

Bicycle lanes often do not exist, even in main roads. Sometimes, there are bicycle lanes on the pvement. You should always be very careful.

ThessBike is a bike sharing system with stations mainly near the center of the town. More stations located in other areas are being planned. You can either become a subscriber or pay per hour. In general, expect to pay €1 per hour.

 

Hotels

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Shopping


Clothing

For fashion, Proxenou Koromila, Mitropoleos and Tsimiski. You won't find many bargains, but the shopping area is conveniently small and full of cafes when you get too tired. For cheaper clothing, check out Egnatia street.


Books

Books and maps in various languages can be bought in stores such as:

  • Ianos bookshopAristotelous Sq (in the city centre). Books & art-objects, cultural events.
  • Traveler map store
  • Maliaris-Pedia bookstore

Also in the 9th International Book Fair, that is held annually in late spring.


Buy food

You can buy local food products, such as olive oil, sometimes at significally lower prices than in nearby countries.


Modiano market

For food specialities, go to Modiano market and try the Terpsis and Omega delicatessens (the most famous is Kosmas, but it specialises in Asian food). Any Greek will expect you to bring back sweets from Salonica, so try tsoureki, plaited sweetened breads for which Terkenlis is famous, and desserts (baklava and galaktoboureko) e.g. or Nikiforou on Venizelou street. The most famous of the baklava joints is Hatzis, but fame has not made it any better - it's become overpriced and not as good as in previous years.

For a morning or late-night snack, try Bougatsa pies: cream (sweet) or cheese (savoury) filling.


Sweets and pastry

If you like sweets, there are 3 typical pastry-shops you should try, typical of this city:

  • Chatzis. Is famous for its collection of Greek Asia Minor sweets (politika glyka) originating from Istanbul.
  • Terkenlis. Is famous for its variety of "tsoureki", a sweet bread much like brioche but containing spices too, covered and filled with several combinations of chocolates/creams/nuts, etc.
  • Elenidis. Is considered the expert in "trigona" (triangles made of sfoglia, filled with cream).

Restaurants

Greeks consider Thessaloniki a gourmet city - but bear in mind that this refers to the excellent local specialities and cheap-and-cheerful ouzo taverns rather than to haute cuisine or a range of foreign restaurants. The latter are best avoided in Thessaloniki.

  • Try a crepe in one of the numerous crepe shops patronised by the student population at Gounari St, near Navarinou Sq.
  • There are plenty of shops selling gyros. Usually there are pork and chicken gyros. This is the best calories per money option, since with less that €3 you get a meal that, although not that healthy, can keep you going for many hours.
  • During the winter you can try roasted chestnuts (kastana in Greek) that are sold from carts.
  • During the summer one can buy boiled or roasted corn on the cob that is sold from carts. Cost €1-2.
  • You can try stafidopsomo, a small bread with raisins, or koulouri a donut-shaped small bread with sesame. You can find them sold in a bakery or on carts. Cost: €0.50.
  • For breakfast you can have a bougatsa, a type of cream pie, that Thessaloniki is famous for. You can accompany it with a cacao milk or coffee.
  • For a carnivore's treat, try soutzoukakia: minced meat pellets either grilled (at the central market or rotisseries) and topped with chilli pepper flakes, or cooked in tomato and cumin sauce (Smyrna-style).
  • For a late night (or early morning) meal try patsas (Tripe soup).
  • Seafood: gemista kalamarakia (stuffed squid), mydopilafo (rice with mussels) or mydia saganaki (mussels in tomato sauce).

Budget

Go for a meal in one of the many central ouzo restaurants (ouzeri). Accompany your ouzo or tsipouro with a battery of small dishes - by far the best way to eat in Salonica. Particularly good are the fava beans, octopus either grilled or in wine sauce and mussels (fried, or in pilaff, or with a hot cheese sauce, saganaki). If you see "boiled vegetables' on the menu in wintertime, you'll be amazed at how good they taste. Another typical winter salad is politiki, a combination of shredded cabbage and pickles.

  • AgoraKapodistriou 5 (Off Ionos Dragoumi). Ouzo restaurant (ouzeri) in one of the most interesting old downtown areas.
  • Ano Poli (Tsinari-(Ano Poli)). Tavern.
  • Ellinikon (Ladadika, Morichovou Sq). In the old warehouse area near the port, around Morichovou Sq, chock-full of restaurants, bars and clubs. Offers "appelation d'origine" local delicacies.
  • Evi EvanOlympou 68 (Bit-Bazaar).
  • Glykia SymoriaIoustinianou and Zaliki 1 (Bit-Bazaar).
  • Goody's. Is the Greek fast-food chain. You will find classic hamburgers, also souvlaki, pasta and salads.
  • Makedoniko) (Kastra (Ano Poli).
  • Pyrgos (Kastra (Ano Poli)). A brasserie.
  • Selini (Bit-Bazaar), +30 2310 221778
  • To Floro Ke To LaioBaltadorou 11 and Benizelou (Bit-Bazaar). 

Mid-range

  • Apo Dyo Horia (Navarinou Sq). Cretan and Pontian restaurant. Here, order raki rather than ouzo or tsipouro.
  • Kamaras (Near Rotonda). Great traditional dishes.
  • Lila Cafe BistroDiogenus 23 (Ano Toumba district),  +30 2310 947377.Traditional pies and sweets, croissant and dishes accompany the coffee or your drink. Porcelain miniatures and collective drinks are available for original gifts.
  • Myrsini (Behind the state theatre Etairia Makedonikon Spoudon). Good Cretan restaurant.
  • Ouzo MelathronKaripi 21.
  • Pire kai vradiazei (Πήρε και βραδιάζει), Omirou 7 (Off Theagenio Hospital).Great taverna, unique style, good food and some days (Th-Su) live music.
  • Pizza da PepeStefanou Tatti 10 (Side street off Egnatia, near Aghia Sophia Church),  +30 2310 242407. For the best pizzas in town head here.
  • Toicho-ToichoPolydorou 1 (Ano Poli (Kastra)). An hipster hang-out, nice atmosphere, very expensive for the quality.
  • Tombourlika (Τομπουρλίκα), Navmachias Limnou 14 (Off Vardaris Sqare), +30 2310 548193. Great traditional ouzeri, with fresh fish and meat dishes and live rembetico music.
  • Tsarouchas (Τσαρούχας), Olymbou 78 (Off Ancient Forum). 24/7. For those with adventurous tastes, preferably go after a hard night's drinking, for a "patsás" (tripe) soup - a delicious way to prevent a hangover.
  • Nea DiagoniosNik. Plastira 89, Kalamaria (Take the bus 5 from Aristotelous square stop at Akaion Station),  +302310029085, e-mail:. 12:30 to 00:00. Here you can eat pork gyros and soutzoukakia 15€.

Splurge

  • KrikelasLadadika (Near Morichovou Sq).
  • Odos Aristotelous (Lepen), Odos Aristotelous. Most Salonicans know it as the "Lepen"
  • Zythos-Dore (White Tower Square). An upmarket brasserie with a wide range of specialties and interesting ambiance.

Drink

Thessaloniki is by far the liveliest city in Northern Greece- maybe even the whole country. Most of the trendy bars at the old sea-front (Nikis Ave.) and around, many of the tavernas are either downtown or in the old city (Kastra). You can also find numerous bars and tavernas at Krini, an area in eastern Thessaloniki. If you want to check out what the whole bouzoukia scene is all about, try the clubs Pyli Axiou and Mamounia, at Vilka. You will also find a lot of night clubs, bars and restaurants in Ladadika, the neighbourhood with the old warehouses next to the port. The student area is around Kamara (the Arch of Galerius), with many cheaper cafes and bars.

If you will be in town during summer, take a ride on the floating bars plying the harbour. Every 2 hr or so they leave from the White Tower area for a short evening trip (30 min) in the Gulf of Thessaloniki. They play mostly ethnic and alternative foreign music.

A beer would cost you €3-7, an alcohol drink €5-10 and a coffee €2.50-5.

Among the most popular places to drink a coffee or a beer are:

  • Aristotle Sq (Aristotelous) - The most popular tourist cafés and bars lie in the central square of the city and the homonymous street. One can find quiet cafes or noisy ones usually preferred by the young. Breakfast is also served, some restaurants are also available.
  • Nikis’ Av - The center’s seafront avenue is full of cafeterias usually crowded around the clock, available for coffee in daytime and beer or drink at night.
  • Proxenou Kroromila St - Parallel to the seafront Nikis avenue is Pr. Koromila street with some cafés and bars.
  • Iktinou pedestrian - Another place in the city with cafes and bars and a couple of restaurants. The last two years a "street beer" culture has been created by both locals and students. People just buy beer from the kiosks and hang out on the surrounding benches. This is probably one of the most economic ways to drink some Retsina and socialize with locals.
  • Ladadika district - At the west side of the center lies the picturesque neighbourhood of Ladadika (meaning: oil stores). Named this way by the many stores selling oil arrived from the adjacent harbour. Formerly notorious district, recently renovated with many stone build warehouses now host the most known nightclubs with all sorts of music including traditional Greek bouzoukia.
  • Aretsou - Aretsou is located in the southeast part of the city, in the Kalamaria District. In the seafront Plastira Av. are restaurants which change to bars during night featuring loud music and hosting many young.
  • Karabournaki - A place in Kalamaria district hosting delicate bars, restaurants and pizzerias. All of them along Sofouli street next to the seashore.
  • Boat bars - Quite interesting are the boats near the white tower’s seafront, which make a short trip around Thermaikos gulf where you can enjoy a late night city view. Most of them play ethnic and alternative foreign music.
  • Vilka (The area around the old trains station) - A set of high-range café, bars, restaurants, disco, ouzeris some with live music at the city’s west.
  • Valaoritou and Syggrou - Over the last 2 years a lot of Thessaloniki's nightlife has moved here. The old industrial centre has become a place for entertainment for everybody. Many bars, clubs and cafes may remind you of Berlin, or English pubs.
  • Mylos Club56 "Andrea Georgiou" Str.,  +30 231 051 0081. Hosting concerts, events, exhibitions, music bands, famous Greek artists etc. Venue can change. Check their page on Facebook.

Sights & Landmarks

The northernmost Byzantine walls of the city and parts of the western walls are still standing, as is the city's symbol - the White Tower. The rest of the walls are in the picturesque Upper Town which offers a spectacular view over the bay, especially in the late afternoon.

The city is also known as "the mother of Israel", due to the once flourishing Jewish community here, which existed from the Roman period and grew substantially after the Ottoman Empire took in Jewish refugees expelled Spain, Portugal, and Spanish territories in Italy; these Jews are known as "Sephardim". Sephardi Jews formed a significant percentage of the city's population and infrastructure until World War II, when, in spring 1943, almost all were deported by the Nazis to the extermination camp at Auschwitz, never to return. However, there are still two Synagogues, and you can see the Jewish Museum.

Also interesting are the Turkish public baths Bey Hamam, the Bezesteni (Ottoman closed market for jewellery and precious materials) the Alatza Imaret (Ottoman poorhouse) and Hamza Bey Camii (both restored and used for exhibitions).


Seafront and lower town

  • White Tower. A 16th-century fortified tower, part of the city's erstwhilse Byzantine walls - the only surviving one on the seafront.
  • Aristotelous Square. the biggest of the city-and the promenade with its cafes and restaurants.

The traditional central food market, with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (sometimes cheek-by-jowl, an unnerving experience for North Americans), cheap clothes and shoes, flowers, herbs and spices, between Aristotele Square and Venizelou street.

Take a walk along the long seafront promenade (about 12 km altogether). See the Roman Forum excavations.


Upper town

Visit the upper town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, Byzantine citadel, the Eptapyrgion fort. Next to the Rotunda, see the Arch of Triumph of Galerius and the ruins of his palace.


Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments

On no account should you miss the Byzantine churches built between the 5th and 14th century ACE, some of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

  • RotundaSt. George Square. Started life as a Roman temple of Zeus, built by Caesar Galerius, and is almost as old as the Pantheon in Rome. The monument has a diameter of 24.50m and its dome reaches a height of 30m. It was converted into a Christian church during the Early Christian era and its interior was decorated with magnificent mosaics. However some inside frescoes are a work of the British artist Alexander Rossi (1840 – 1916) ). In 1591 the Rotunda was converted into a mosque and a tall minaret still stands beside the monument. Frequent earthquakes from the early 7th century till 1978 caused several damage. The latter caused the destruction of the dome' section. After being restored, the monument reopened to the public in 1998.
  • Saint Demetrios (Agios Demetrios). Constructed in the mid-7th century on the ruins of a Roman bath complex, in honor of Demetrius, a Roman officer who was imprisoned and martyred here in 303 AD. An earlier small church, built on the site of martyrdom, burned down during the earthquake of 620 and a new large basilica was erected at expenses of Leontius, the Byzantine prefect of Illyricum and the Bishop of Thessaloniki. The new church of S. Demetrios became one of the most famous centers of pilgrimage for Orthodox Christians until its Muslim conversion in 1492. In the Great Fire of Thessaloniki of 1917 the basilica was gutted. The work of restructuring the church lasted fifty years. Most of the ancient mosaics in the western wall and in the inner central aisle survived the heat from the fire.
  • Church of the Acheiropoietos (Panayia Acheiropoietos), Agias Sofias 56. A 5th-century church included in Thessaloniki’s Unesco World heritage.
  • Latomou Monastery
  • Hagia Sophia. 9th Century
  • Panagia Chalkeon
  • Saint Catherine.
  • Saint Panteleimon.
  • Church of the Holy Apostles.
  • Saint Nicholas Orphanos. Particularly worth a look for its well-preserved early 14th Century Byzantine frescoes. See if you can spot one of the turtles in the garden. free.
  • Church of the Saviour
  • Vlatades Monastery
  • Church of Prophet Elijah.

Museums & Galleries

Thessaloniki is home to many museums, mostly archaeological and ethnographic. The two big archaeological museums are in the city centre, under the OTE Tower at theCHANTH Square. It is possible to obtain a pass for €15 which allows entry into five museums (valid for three days): Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, Museum of Byzantine Culture, White Tower, Archaeological Site and Museum of the Roman Agora, and Galerian Complex. Note that Winter opening times are shorter than Summer opening times.

  • Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum. Mon-Sun 8.00-20.00 (Summer).Andronikou st 6. Covers the history of Thessaloniki from prehistory to Roman times. Adults €8, children free.
  • Museum of Byzantine Culture. Stratou ave 2. Award-winning museum (2005 - best Museum of Europe). €8 (reduced price for students and during low season Nov-Mar).
  • Teloglion Foundation of Art (Upperside of the Aristotel University Campus Agiou Dimitriou St). Weekdays 09:00-14:00, Weekends 10:00-18:00.€5.
  • Olympic Museum (Tritis Septemvriou & Agiou Dimitriou St. (300 m to the east of Teloglion Foundation of Art)). Sports related.
  • Atatürk HouseAgiou Dimitriou St. The house where Kemal Atatürk was born.
  • Museum at Aghios DemetriosAgiou Dimitriou St.
  • Museum of Ancient Greek, Byzantine, and Post Byzantine Musical InstrumentsKatouni 12 (in the Ladadika neighbourhood). 
  • Municipal Gallery of ArtVassilisis Olgas St 162.

Things to do

Thessaloniki has a very active nightlife, as a 2007 New York Times article called it "Seattle of the Balkans". The very lively and youth-oriented international film festival is held in November, the International Trade Fair in September.

  • Thessaloniki Concert Hall"25 Μartiou" Str. (near the Posidonio Athletic Center of Thessaloniki - Kalamaria). The venue includes a main hall of 1,400 seats, designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and inaugurated on 2 January 2000. The Thessaloniki State Symphony Orchestra plays Italian Operas and works of Greek composers. Current events listed on in their website.
  • Waterland. A large Water park near Tagarades Hill. Free bus service starting at the City center

Yachting

Thermaikos Gulf is a challenging place for yachting and sailing. Many days there are strong North winds but with low waves making sailing a fun and joy for all sailors. There are three sailing clubs in Thessaloniki and world championships take place here every year. Thessaloniki has several marinas with a new one containing 182 mooring places under construction in the centre of the city and next to Aistotelous square. There are many yacht charter companies renting sailing yachts.

  • Discovery YachtingThermaikou 21,  +30 231 046 5269, +30 694 838 8098fax: +30 231 046 5269, e-mail: . Bareboat charter or skippered sailing yacht, also night time tours.
  • Nautilia YachtingLeoforos Karamanli Konstantinou 145,  +30 231 055 8192fax: +30 231 055 8192, e-mail: . Nautilia Yachting is based in Thessaloniki, Greece, officially licensed by the Greek National Tourism Organization and specialized in organizing yacht charters in Greece.

Festivals and events

Thessaloniki is home of a number of festivals and events. The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair is the most important event to be hosted in the city annually, by means of economic development. It was first established in 1926 and takes place every year at the 180,000 m2 (1,937,503.88 sq ft) Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center. The event attracts major political attention and it is customary for the Prime Minister of Greece to outline his administration's policies for the next year, during event. Over 250,000 visitors attended the exposition in 2010. The new Art Thessaloniki, is starting first time 29.10. - 1 November 2015 as an international contemporary art fair. The Thessaloniki International Film Festival is established as one of the most important film festivals in Southern Europe, with a number of notable film makers such as Francis Ford Coppola, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve, Irene Papas and Fatih Akın taking part, and was established in 1960. The Documentary Festival, founded in 1999, has focused on documentaries that explore global social and cultural developments, with many of the films presented being candidates for FIPRESCI and Audience Awards.

The Dimitria festival, founded in 1966 and named after the city's patron saint of St. Demetrius, has focused on a wide range of events including music, theatre, dance, local happenings, and exhibitions. The "DMC DJ Championship" has been hosted at the International Trade Fair of Thessaloniki, has become a worldwide event for aspiring DJs and turntablists. The "International Festival of Photography" has taken place every February to mid-April. Exhibitions for the event are sited in museums, heritage landmarks, galleries, bookshops and cafés. Thessaloniki also holds an annual International Book Fair.

Between 1962–1997 and 2005–2008 the city also hosted the Thessaloniki Song Festival, Greece's most important music festival, at Alexandreio Melathron.

In 2012, the city hosted its first gay parade, namely the Thessaloniki Pride which took place between 22 and 23 June. In 2013, the second Thessaloniki Pride was hosted between 14 and 15 June. However, in 2013, Transgender people in Thessaloniki became victims of police violence. The issue was soon settled by the government. The third Thessaloniki Pride took place in 2014, between 20 and 21 June, concentrating more people than any past year.

Nightlife

Thessaloniki is by far the liveliest city in Northern Greece- maybe even the whole country. Most of the trendy bars at the old sea-front (Nikis Ave.) and around, many of the tavernas are either downtown or in the old city (Kastra). You can also find numerous bars and tavernas at Krini, an area in eastern Thessaloniki. If you want to check out what the whole bouzoukia scene is all about, try the clubs Pyli Axiou and Mamounia, at Vilka. You will also find a lot of night clubs, bars and restaurants in Ladadika, the neighbourhood with the old warehouses next to the port. The student area is around Kamara (the Arch of Galerius), with many cheaper cafes and bars.

If you will be in town during summer, take a ride on the floating bars plying the harbour. Every 2 hr or so they leave from the White Tower area for a short evening trip (30 min) in the Gulf of Thessaloniki. They play mostly ethnic and alternative foreign music.

A beer would cost you €3-7, an alcohol drink €5-10 and a coffee €2.50-5.

Among the most popular places to drink a coffee or a beer are:

  • Aristotle Sq (Aristotelous) - The most popular tourist cafés and bars lie in the central square of the city and the homonymous street. One can find quiet cafes or noisy ones usually preferred by the young. Breakfast is also served, some restaurants are also available.
  • Nikis’ Av - The center’s seafront avenue is full of cafeterias usually crowded around the clock, available for coffee in daytime and beer or drink at night.
  • Proxenou Kroromila St - Parallel to the seafront Nikis avenue is Pr. Koromila street with some cafés and bars.
  • Iktinou pedestrian - Another place in the city with cafes and bars and a couple of restaurants. The last two years a "street beer" culture has been created by both locals and students. People just buy beer from the kiosks and hang out on the surrounding benches. This is probably one of the most economic ways to drink some Retsina and socialize with locals.
  • Ladadika district - At the west side of the center lies the picturesque neighbourhood of Ladadika (meaning: oil stores). Named this way by the many stores selling oil arrived from the adjacent harbour. Formerly notorious district, recently renovated with many stone build warehouses now host the most known nightclubs with all sorts of music including traditional Greek bouzoukia.
  • Aretsou - Aretsou is located in the southeast part of the city, in the Kalamaria District. In the seafront Plastira Av. are restaurants which change to bars during night featuring loud music and hosting many young.
  • Karabournaki - A place in Kalamaria district hosting delicate bars, restaurants and pizzerias. All of them along Sofouli street next to the seashore.
  • Boat bars - Quite interesting are the boats near the white tower’s seafront, which make a short trip around Thermaikos gulf where you can enjoy a late night city view. Most of them play ethnic and alternative foreign music.
  • Vilka (The area around the old trains station) - A set of high-range café, bars, restaurants, disco, ouzeris some with live music at the city’s west.
  • Valaoritou and Syggrou - Over the last 2 years a lot of Thessaloniki's nightlife has moved here. The old industrial centre has become a place for entertainment for everybody. Many bars, clubs and cafes may remind you of Berlin, or English pubs.
  • Mylos Club56 "Andrea Georgiou" Str.,  +30 231 051 0081. Hosting concerts, events, exhibitions, music bands, famous Greek artists etc. Venue can change. Check their page on Facebook.

Things to know


Orientation

Thessaloniki lies on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf on its eastern coast and is bound by Mount Chortiatis on its southeast.The metropolitan area, with population of about 1 million, can be divided roughly in 3 parts: The northwestern, the central and the southeastern.

The central part, corresponding to the region that used to be inside the Byzantine walls and can in turn be divided in the "Ano Poli" (Upper City) region which lies on the hillside that is actually the southwest end of Chortiatis, and the part of the city located between the Upper City and the sea.

The later is the "center" of Thessaloniki, as most commercial, entertainment and educational facilities can be found here, while this part of the city remains a dense populated residential area. It is the area surrounded by the seafront to the southwest, Olibiados street to the northeast, Dimokratias square to the northwest and the University campus and the facilities of Thessaloniki International Fair to the southeast. Most places with tourist interest are either in the center or very close to it.

Most roads in the center are either parallel, or either vertical to the sea. A simple rule that helps the visitor is that if the a street goes downhill, then following it will lead you to the sea. The biggest parallel streets to the sea starting from the sea are Leoforos Nikis, Tsimiski Ioanni, Egnatia, Agiou Dimitriou and Kassandrou. The main vertical to the sea streets, starting from northwest, are Dragoumi Ionos, Venizelou Eleftheriou, Aristotelous, Agias Sofias and Ethinikis Aminis.


Tourist Information

There are tourist info and ticket booths at the central bus stations. You can get a free bus line chart there. The tourist information office is at Tsimiski 136, a few minutes from the White Tower. It is open M-F 8AM-8PM, Sa 8:30AM-2PM, Sun closed. If you find it closed, walk up to Aristotelous and buy a map from Iannos bookshop. You can also visit the OASTH website.

Safety in Thessaloniki

Stay Safe


Stay safe

Watch your pockets and travel documents as there are pickpockets, especially in buses during rush hour.

Some people may feel very uncomfortable walking in the areas near the railway station at night, as there are several brothels there.

Police number: 100


Stay healthy

Tap water is safe to drink. In some places in the city centre you might get a slight "taste" from the water. That means that the tubes in the building are getting old, so you might want to buy bottled water.

Greece is a sunny place, and if your skin is light-coloured, intense sunlight can be a serious danger. Use sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.

Emergency phone number: 166

Very High / 9.4

Safety (Walking alone - day)

High / 7.1

Safety (Walking alone - night)

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