Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki is a curious case among Greece cities. Lively, youthful, chaotic and -sometimes- romantic, this city invites you to go slow and cherish the ample of sea view.
In Thessaloniki, history is not just a series of tourist monuments; it is woven organically in the city scape, ready for you to discover.
The founder of the city, Cassandrus was a former general of Alexander the Great. He founded the city in 315BC. He named the city in honor of his wife Thessalonike.
Thessaloniki is the gateway to Macedonia with connections to Alexander the Great and his tutor, Aristotle.
In 1492, Spain persecuted the Jewish population. Many of them sought asylum by the Ottoman Sultan and were welcomed into Thessaloniki with open arms.
For about 500 years, the city was the vibrant center of the Jewish life.
Until 1941, the would be known as “Jerusalem of the Balkans”, as half of its population was of Jewish descent.
This city has always been very diverse, offering asylum to many different ethnic groups.
It was a melting pot of languages, nationalities and religions.
Foreign travelers would write that each neighborhood had different traditions depending on the area.
If you see now, Thessaloniki is not as multicultural as it once was. But, traces of its past are still visible today.
View the 20 foot tall monument of Alexander the Great riding his horse “Voukefalas”, one of the most famous horses of antiquity.
The Old Town (Ano Poli) and the castle (Heptapyrgion) of Thessaloniki from the quaint part of the city, with fantastic views of the area and the port in the distance below.
It features Thessaloniki’s rich past, traditional and preserved structures from a long time ago.
If you’re a history buff, then you’re in luck. There’s no better way of getting the real feel for the city by following these ancient city walls.
Parts of the old city walls are scattered on the perimeter of the city centre, outlining what used to be the edge of the ancient fortification.
Follow them uphill to find yourself lost in a maze of narrow streets and traditional houses.
You can’t miss this Thessaloniki landmark, having seafront promenade running alongside it.
It was built in 1430, after the fall of Thessaloniki to the Ottomans.
On the site, you can see an exhibition about the history of Thessaloniki.
Don’t forget to climb to the top of the tower so you can enjoy the incredible views of the Thermaikos Gulf and the city.
The city does not disappoint when it comes to ancient museums, considering the city’s location at the crossroads of European and Ottoman culture.
If you have to narrow it down, the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki (AMoT) and Museum of Byzantine Culture (MoBC) are the gems.
AMoT, one of the largest museums in Greece, showcases artifacts from prehistoric Macedonia and the foundation of the city as well as its evolution as a crossroads of history throughout the millennia.
MoBC is a home to collection that cover the transformation of Roman religion and the early Christian Church to the 15th-century fall of Constantinople.
For over 2,000 years, this city has been at the crossroads of several civilizations.
So, monuments, points of interest and archeological sites are at almost every turn, including the Roman Forum, Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda.
Ah, the best part, FOOD!
If you are a foodie like me, then it will be a blissful journey for you. Thessaloniki is a paradise for foodies.
It offers its visitors the opportunity to discover the Greek cuisine with all its original dishes and culinary influences.
The city also has the title of Gastronomic Capital of Greece.
You are traveling, roaming in the streets, discovering things, what’s the first thing you’ll notice? Food!
Have the first taste of Thessaloniki through its street food. Delighting yourself with dishes like koulouri (a sort of bagels, perfect to enjoy your coffee with), gyros (roasted meat served in a pita), and mpougatsa (pastries filled with cheese, cream or meat).
The restaurants and pastry shops are all ridiculously amazing and there are several located on every block.
Street markets are a big part of the Greek culture, and Modiano, located in the proximity of Tsimiski Street is a great place to start your day, especially if you are a fish or olives lover.
There’s no shortage of dining options in Thessaloniki.
Traditional plates like the musakas (a pie of minced meat, potatoes and eggplants), roast lamb, and souvlaki (the Greek version of the Turkish kebab), make the delight of meat lovers.
For vegetarians, it’s a paradise as well since the Greek cuisine includes many salads, and delicious spinach pie.
If you love seafood you should definitely consider visiting Kakamaria (Aretsou) area and discover some of the best historic taverns of the city! You’ll have the chance to taste some delicious fish recipes by the sea.
One place I’m sure you will love a lot is Ladadika district.
Ladadika is one of the coolest spots in the city for dining and nightlife, with tons of great taverns, bars and restaurants within the renovated historic buildings.
If you visit in the winters, the sparkling Christmas lights make it even more magical.
If you love tsipouro and retsina along with delicious small plates of mezedes, then do visit Bit Bazaar.
So, if you have some traveling plans and you like ancient monuments and love awesome food, then visit Thessaloniki.