Thessaloniki city is one of the oldest cities in Europe and it is also the second- largest city in Greece after Athens. This is why Greeks often refer it as the country’s “co-capital”. It was first established in 316 B.C. by Kassandros and named after his wife, Thessaloniki, half sister of Alexander the Great. It means Victory in Thessaly. Thessaloniki was the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire, next to Constantinople, and is full of beautiful examples of Byzantine art and architecture. In the 15th Century Thessaloniki became a haven for Jews exiled from Spain, who became an important part of the culture, until they were sent to the concentration camps during the Nazi occupation, thus ending a period of four hundred years of Jewish influence both socially and economically. This period roughly corresponds with the occupation of Greece by the Ottoman Turks.
Situated on the shores of the Thermaikos Gulf, Thessaloniki is divided in a modern area and the old town. The wealth of its surviving monuments from all the periods of its history has made the city a living museum of Byzantine art; as such it has been recognised by UNESCO. Among the numerous monuments of particular interest in the city are those from the Roman period, the Triumphal Arch of Galerius and the Rotonda. Thessaloniki is above all famous for its Byzantine period, being second only to Constantinople itself. Its many churches whose fine mosaics and wall-paintings are representative of various periods of Byzantine art have survive to enhance the image of the city.
Where to visit:
1. St. Demetrius, Panagia Acheiropoietus, the Holy Apostles,
2. St. Sophia
3. St. Catherine, Panagia Chalkeon,
4. St. Nicholas the Orphan, the Prophet Elijah, and the Monastery of Vlatadon.
5. White Tower
White Tower is noteworthy from a national, spiritual and artistic that also become the viewpoint of the city. They are also the continuing strong links between the the city of Thessaloniki and Mt. Athos.