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Around Thessaloniki

Published by Maria Parpori — one month ago

0 Tags: Erasmus experiences Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece


Briefly historical information

Welcome to this beautiful tour around my favorite city, my hometown. Before we take a look around the city, I would like to share some historical information:

  • Its name comes from the two words ''Thessalon'' and ''victory'' (νίκη - niki in greek), referring to the victory of the Makedones and the Thessalians against the tyranny of the Ferres, which took place during the third war happened in ancient Greece.
  • Thessalonike was the name of Alexander the Great's half-sister
  • It was built on 316 BC by Kassandros of Macedon, Thessalonike's husband
  • It's the largest city and capital of the (Greek) Macedonia

Aristotelous

Now let's move on seeing some of the most central and beautiful places to visit in the city center. One of Thessaloniki's main squares is Aristotelous Square, between Mitropoleos street and Nikis boulevard. It is surrounding by many cafès and greek restaurants and is a main attraction for tourists or even a place to set a rendezvous. Going all the way up there is the Aristotelous street, a paved street mostly for pedestrians, with many cafès and shops as well. In the middle, there are flower beds surrounding by benches and by looking at the end of the street you get the view of ''Ano Poli'', a Thessaloniki's neighborhood. 

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The seafront

Getting into Nikis boulevard, we practically arrive on the seafront. There you can have a really beautiful walk starting from Thessaloniki's port and arriving at the ''Umbrellas''. You can also go for running or ride a bike if you like, as you'll see many people doing so. As you walk, you'll have a view of the White Tower, which was built in the 15th century by the Ottomans and was used as a stronghold. 

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At this spot, besides the view of the White Tower, you can also watch the sunset, which reflects on the Thermaikos bay and gives an amazing panorama. 

The White Tower

Looking at the White Tower up close, you see all the details of the tower. It is almost 34m tall and has 6 floors, where on last one there is an outdoor space where you have a panoramic view around the tower. On the top, there is also the Greek flag!

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A few steps further from the White Tower, there are bar boats. They are actual bars on boats, on which, along with enjoying your coffee or drink, you can have a ride on Thermaikos bay and therefore have a different sight of Thessaloniki.

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Alexander the Great

Continuing, you will at some point arrive at Alexander the Great statue, which represents Alexander the Great riding his horse, Voukefalas. Along with the statue, you can see two pair of shields, representing Makedons that took part in Alexander the Great's expedition. Alexander the Great, king of Makedonia, was born in Pella (Makedonia, Greece) and he is now considered one of the top personalities of all ages in the world having a great influence.

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The Umbrellas

Going all the way straight after Alexander the Great statue, you arrive at the ''Umbrellas'', a site just perfect to take numerous photos having the sea in the background. Just use your imagination!

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Navarinou Square / Arch of Galerius

Another big and central square in the center of Thessaloniki is Navarinou square. Surrounding, as well, by small shops and many street food stores, its beautiful part is that on the square you can find the remainings of the palace of Galerius and the Hippodrome, important ancients sites, whose biggest part has been destroyed. Here you will see colorful buildings and graffiti, as well as many young people, as this square is a meeting point of university students.

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Looking straight up from Navarinou square you will see the Arch of Galerius, or as we call it ''Kamara'', one of the most characterized archaeological sites of Thessaloniki, which is the most common and known meeting point for all the residents of the city and not only. It was built in honor of the Roman Emperor Galerius when he returned to the city as a victor after the war against the Persians. Next to Kamara you will find Rotonda, one of the most ancient buildings in the city, which at first meant to be a temple of Zeus, but then, by not being used, turned into a Christian church, dedicated to St. George.

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Other places to visit

Other good options to visit around Thessaloniki is the neighborhood called ''Kastra'' (meaning castle), which simply was the old fort around the city, built in order to protect it against the invasions of enemies and withstand the sieges. It is a very interesting place to walk around since you feel like being in another century and you get to witness another panoramic view of Thessaloniki.

You can also visit the square right across at the end of Aristotelous street, which hosts the statue of ''Eleftherios Venizelos'', a Greek politician, who has also been 7 times a Prime Minister of Greece, having an important role through Greece's politics and his actions affected positively the modern Greek history. He was the one who represented Greece and signed The Lausanne Treaty in 1923. Very close to the statue you will find the ''Church of Panagia Chalkeon'', built on 1028 a.d and characterized by the Byzantine architecture. On the other side of the statue, there is the ''Bey Hamam'' (or else Baths of Paradise), which is the oldest of the Ottomans' bathhouse in Thessaloniki.

A few meters away from Eleftherios Venizelos statue there is the ''Roman Forum'', built by Roman on the late 2nd century, which at the time was the center of the political and public life of Thessaloniki. It has been discovered in 1966, after numerous excavations and the findings revealed important historical information on Thessaloniki.

Some nice streets to visit are Agia Sofia street, Iktinou street (with many nice bars), MItropoleos street and of course for shopping Egnatia street and Tsimiski street. In my opinion, it would be really good just to start walking the city, this way you get to see more things than I can describe here, plus you are going to remember a long beautiful walk!

Museums

  • The White Tower Museum, where you will be able to experience  a ''tour'' from when the city was first constructed until its recent past, along with the different cultures that left their marks on the city
  • The Archaeological Museum, which offers exhibitions from eras such as Ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine (mosaics, sculptures and ancient vases).
  • The War Museum, which practically is a military museum offering exhibit from the early 20th century (German invasion, the liberation of Greece after World War II). You are able to see weapons, models of ships and artillery, as well as maps and paintings referring to the Balkan Wars and World Wars.
  • The Olympic Museum (ex-museum of Athletics), presenting the athletic heritage of Thessaloniki and Greece.
  • Museum for the Macedonian Struggle, where you can find traditional uniforms, personal items and weapons of the leaders of Macedonian Struggle. There also maps, photographs, newspapers and books, all dedicated to the Macedonian battle. You will also find many activities, such as knowledge games, guided tours and movie presentations.
  • The Byzantine Museum, where you will get all the information you want concerning the Byzantine past of the city. You get to see many mosaics, frescoes, religious architecture, Byzantine icons and some rare books. It is considered the most important museum of the city since Thessaloniki has a really strong Byzantine character.
  • The Kemal Ataturk Museum, which is the house where Kemal Ataturk was born, dedicated to his life. Inside there are authentic furniture of his house and some of his personal items. 
  • The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, offering information concerning the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki amongst historical items, photographs and exhibitions. There is also a library where you can find typings from the 16th to the 20th century, covering the whole life of Jews in Thessaloniki. It is hosted in one of the Jewish buildings that remained from the fire of 1917.
  • The Archeological Museum of Ancient Roman Forum, which is located inside the Ancient Forum, underground. Here you will find information on every historical period of the city, through visual media, as well as individual historical events. Spending some time at this museum will help you understand the importance of the city.

Eat and Drink

For those who adore the Greek cuisine, you will find amazing restaurants, offering tasteful traditional dishes, with plenty of options. You will be able to try different cuisines, as well, such as Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Thailandese, Indian, French and many more.

You will also find plenty of cafès and bars, others offering a view of the city or at the sea and others just being in the squares or in small streets, characterized as graphical. Either way, you will surely enjoy your time, as each of them offers a different mood by having different decorations! A few good bars to visit are ''Malt'n'Jazz'', which offers live music at nights with alternative bands, ''Tribecca'', with a sea view, ''Aigli'', with a really nice garden to enjoy your drink and even have a Narghile (there also many narghile bars). Iktinou street has many good bars, too and if you want a view of Aristotelous square, you should go to the Electra Palace, a hotel that on its last floor has a bar-restaurant.

I hope you liked this ''online'' tour and I wish to those who haven't yet visited Thessaloniki to visit it and be able to see all the amazing things this city has to offer, apart from the good food and nightlife.

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P.S: All photos are taken by me and if you wish, you can visit my online portfolio at: https://mariaparpori.crevado.com/

Thank you!


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