Highlights of Thessaloniki, Greece

Thessaloniki is the second largest city of Greece, next to Athens which is the largest. To what extent I’ve heard, there are not that many people who’ve heard of, or been to Thessaloniki. The city has a beautiful location which is a central point for going everywhere on the mainland of Greece: from Halkidiki to Meteora and to the south and Athens. When being in this area of the country, a must is to visit the city of Thessaloniki as well. In this article I’ll give you the highlights of Thessaloniki.

Traditional houses
Ano Poli Old Town

1 Visit Ano Poli Old Town
Just located a little outside the city center, in the highest part of the city, you can find the Old Town of Thessaloniki, named Ano Poli. Although Thessaloniki has a lot of flats and standard buildings, in Old Town you can find many buildings in the traditional Ottoman architecture together with the colourful houses in Macedonian tradition and many stairways; what gives a really nice and cosy atmosphere. Furthermore, from some points you can have a breath taking view over the city.

You can either walk upwards to Old Town if you like to hike or you can just take the bus, which is also a very easy way to explore the surroundings of the city.

2 The seafront and 3. The White Tower
Like many cities located at sea or river, there is a large boulevard where you can wander around and chill during the day. However, next to the boulevard you do not have many places you can drink or eat something, therefore you need to go a little more into the city center of Thessaloniki.

At the seafront of Thessaloniki, you can also find the White Tower, which is also kind of the image of the city. The White Tower (which isn’t actually that white) is a monument and museum which used to be a Byzantine fortification. The museum nowadays has an exhibition dedicated to the city of Thessaloniki and its history throughout various periods, organized by the city’s Museum of Byzantine Culture. It’s also possible to have a look from the roof of the tower, which also gives a view over the sea and the city.

4 The Rotunda Area
One of the most lively areas of Thessaloniki is the one around the Rotunda of Galerius, one of the oldest religious sites of Thessaloniki. The Rotunda was built in 306 A.D. by the Romans and has a connection with the Arch of Galerius, which you can find located a little further in the street. In the 4th Century Roman Emperor Galerius commissioned these two structures as elements of an imperial precinct linked to his Thessaloniki Palace.

Next to the fact that these sites have a rich history, the area is also very lively because of the university which is located nearby the sites. Therefore, the area is full of cafés, bars and restaurants. It’s really nice to sit here on a terrace to eat or drink something.

5 Ruins of the city
There are more historical places which you can find in Thessaloniki. Although I really thought the city wasn’t very pretty at first sight (due to the many flats, which doesn’t give a nice atmosphere), I think the fact that you can find ruins in the middle of the city center is very beautiful. When you are walking from the seafront to the Rotunda Area, you can find the ruins of the Palace Complex of Galerius. During high season, you can visit the ruins from close by where you can also read more about the history on the signs which are placed in the area.

If you walk a little further into the city, you come across the Roman Forum which is also known as “Ancient Agora”. The Forum was constructed by the Romans in the late 1st Century A.D. Together with the Palace Complex of Galerius, it was the center of political and public life in Thessaloniki. Nowadays, you can admire the ruins of the Roman Forum.

Have you ever been to Thessaloniki before? Do you miss a highlight in this list? Let us know in the comment section below!

Author: Tamara

This article is part of the GPSmyCity iOS app. You can download it, read this article offline and obtain travel directions (by foot, car or bicycle) to the places mentioned in this article. Click here to download it.

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