Thessaloniki: what to see and where to go

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Thessaloniki is the second biggest city in Greece, located in the north of the country, in the region of Central Macedonia. At times, Thessaloniki natives referred to the city as the “co-capital”, not to propagate the popular cultural rivalry with Athens but rather to highlight the historical importance of the city which was considered the co-capital of the Byzantine Empire because of the strategic positioning the port of Thessaloniki enjoyed.

 

Folklore aside, Thessaloniki’s rich history is evident around almost every corner. Nowadays, however, the city is not only favoured by history aficionados, but the city’s vibrant cultural life attracts over 7.9 million visitors annually!

 

The historical sites in Thessaloniki date as early as 315BC, when the Macedonian King Cassander named the city after Alexander’s the Great half-sister, to contemporary projects such as the 2008 renovation of the famous Nea Paralia, the renowned 6km-long waterfront promenade.

Within the city’s centre, one can find 15 UNESCO World Heritage Monuments, most of which are Early Christian and Byzantine churches. Remarkable is the Rotunda, an impressive round building decorated with marvellous mosaics, which initially functioned as the mausoleum of Roman Emperor Galerius but was converted to a church and later a mosque and is used today due to its excellent acoustics as a unique cultural centre.

Thessaloniki’s most well-known landmark is the White Tower which was built in the 15th century during a time when the city belonged to the Ottoman Empire. The surviving city walls, part of the Ottoman fortification, circle around the city and offers a great walking route to visitors who want to take in Thessaloniki’s multicultural historical past.

 

Other important cultural centres are the museums of Thessaloniki, which cover classical and contemporary fields, such as the Museum of Photography. Noteworthy is the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, held annually every November, whose screenings and programs are attended by an international pool of cinephiles and filmmakers.

 

Thessaloniki is equally, if not more, lively by night! The city’s long-established multi-ethnic composition has paved the ground for exquisite gastronomical experiences of traditional and avant-garde recipes. Several places offer live music, such as Rempetika— songs based on the sounds of bouzouki— which contribute to the perfect night in the historic centre. Ladadika is an exceptionally favoured neighbourhood for all ages as it is dense in bars and tavernas, live music, and tasteful scents!

 

Whether you are here for a day or a week, Thessaloniki has much to offer! As you are strolling by Aristotle’s square, the ideal meeting point in Thessaloniki, don’t forget to come by the Elxis office, which is located on the seafront boulevard at Nikis 3, with a prime view of Thermaikos Gulf and Mt. Olympos!

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