Welcome to Thessaloniki!

Welcome to Thessaloniki!

Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη) is Greece’s second-largest city and the capital of Macedonia, the nation’s largest region. The Thessaloniki Urban Area extends around the Thermaic Gulf for approximately 17 kilometres (11 mi) and comprises 16 municipalities. According to the 2001 census, the municipality of Thessaloniki had a population of 363,987, while the metropolitan population approximates one million inhabitants.

Thessaloniki is Greece’s second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and its southeast European hinterland.

History

The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassander of Macedon (Μακεδονία), on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty-six other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessaloniki, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. She gained her name from her father, Philip II, to commemorate her birth on the day of his gaining a victory (Gr. Nike, pronounced Niki) over the Phocians, who were defeated with the help of Thessalian horsemen, the best in Greece at that time. Thessaloniki means the “victory of Thessalians”. The city developed rapidly and as early as the 2nd century BC the first walls were built, forming a large square.

In modern era, In June 2003, the Summit meeting of European leaders, at the end of the Greek Presidency of the EU, was hosted at the Porto Carras resort in Chalkidiki, , and in 2004 the city hosted a number of the football events forming part of the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Also, another planned bid for 2017 World Expo was announced in September 2006 and is now in full development.

Landmarks

  • The White Tower of Thessaloniki (Greek: Λευκός Πύργος Lefkos Pyrgos), widely regarded as the symbol of the city. It has been known by many names and is now home to the Museum of Byzantine Cultures; the top of the tower offers excellent views of the downtown area.
  • The Arch and Tomb of Galerius is more commonly known as the “Kamara” and ornately decorated, crafted with a reddish-coloured stone.
  • The Upper Town or ‘Ano Poli’ is what remains of Ottoman Thessaloniki, with beautiful wooden houses overhanging the winding streets all the way up to the Eptapyrgio at the top of the city. The Ano Poli also contains some of the city’s oldest and most important churches, particularly Osios David, St. Nicolaos Orphanos and Vlatades Monastery.
  • The Church of Aghios Demetrios is the most important church in the entire city. Lying above the remains of the agora and the Roman Forum, the church has three side-chapels, a museum, and underground catacombs that also include Saint Demetrios’ imprisonment chamber; he is the patron saint of the city.
  • OTE Tower, a TV tower is the center of the Thessaloniki Expo Center. A revolving restaurant offers spectacular views of the city.
  • The waterfront is Thessaloniki’s major draw. The promenade of Nikis Avenue runs from the White Tower of Thessaloniki to the giant palace that is now a ferry terminal, and plentiful cafes, restaurants and shops line the waterfront.
  • The Arch and Tomb of Galerius, or the Church of Aghios Georgios, is a circular church lacking the classic Orthodox iconostasis. The church is built upon former Roman and Greek pagan ruins.
  • Aristotelous Square extends all the way from Nikis Avenue on the waterfront to the Church of Panayia Halkeion. The square, shaped like a bottle, is lined with tall archondika, or mansions of the affluent, that have now been converted to shops and hotels. A large park lies at the north end of the square, and Thessaloniki’s thriving old market is just one block away to the east and west.
  • The area surrounding the Church of Aghia Sofia, also located in the city center, includes the large church and paved alleyways that make the few blocks around it widely known.
  • The extensive Byzantine walls of the Upper City (Ano Poli) and kastro.
  • The Kyvernion (little Palace); former residence of the King and Queen of Greece; in the Karabournaki area, in Eastern Thessaloniki is now the seat of the Minister of Macedonia – Thrace.
  • The modern Concert Hall of Thessaloniki in the East side of the city, near the Posidonion sports center.
  • Thessaloniki Intemational Trade Fair held every September, organised by Helexpo.
  • Thessaloniki is considered the third mos important city after Istanbul and Rowena in byzantine architecture and mosaics in a number of christian-orthodox churches.


Museums

  • Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
  • Museum of Byzantine Culture
  • Macedonia-Thrace Folklore and Ethnological Museum, housed in the G. Modiano Mansion
  • State Museum of Contemporary Arts [1] housing an important collection of 1275 Russian avant-garde works of art, collected by George Costakis
  • Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Thessaloniki Cinema Museum
  • Museum of the Macedonian Struggle
  • Thessaloniki Sports Museum
  • Water Museum of Thessaloniki
  • White Tower of Thessaloniki, museum and monument
  • Thessaloniki Science Center & Technology Museum – NOESIS
  • Thessaloniki Museum of Photography
  • Museum of Cinematography
  • Teloglion Foundation of Art
  • Artforum Culture Foundation
  • Artforum Research-institute and public-exhibition-hall
  • European Center of Byzantine and Postbyzantine Monuments
  • Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki (Museo Djudio de Salonik)

Archaeological sites

  • The Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki
  • Monastery of Latomos at Thessaloniki
  • The Roman Palace and Hippodrome
  • The extensive city walls
  • Trigonian Tower and the Castra area
  • The Byzantine Churches
  • Agia Paraskevi, Thessaloniki, archaic cemetery

Economy

Thessaloniki is a major port city and an industrial and commercial center. The city’s industries centre around oil, steel, petrochemicals, textiles, machinery, flour, cement, pharmaceuticals, and liquor. The city is also a major transportation hub for the whole of southeastern Europe, carrying, among other things, trade to and from the newly capitalist countries of the region.

Culture – Festivals

International Trade Fair

The Thessaloniki International Trade Fair has a venerable modern history dating to 1926. Hosted every September for 10 days at the 180,000 m² Thessaloniki International Exhibition Center, in the heart of the city, the fair is organised by HELEXPO, which also organises themed exhibitions and congresses throughout the year. The International Trade Fair is inaugurated by the Prime Minister and attended by more than 300,000 visitors every year.

International Film Festival

The Thessaloniki International Film Festival has become the primary showcase in Southeastern Europe for the work of new and emerging filmmakers, as well as the leading film festival of the region. The event features an International Section, its Panorama of Greek Film, the New Horizons program, the Balkan Survey, and numerous retrospectives and tributes to leading figures in the world of film. Since 1993, a succession of leading lights of international cinema, incuding Francis Ford Coppola, Faye Dunaway, Catherine Deneuve and Irene Papas, have visited the Festival.

Documentary Festival

The Thessaloniki Documentary Festival was launched in March 1999, inspired by Dimitri Elpides and benefiting from the local public’s enthusiastic response, alongside extensive coverage in the local and international press. In 2005, 22,000 admissions were registered. The main programme focuses on documentaries that explore global social and cultural developments, and also now introduces a number of new side sections and events based on important works by new documentarists. Films from the main programme will be candidates for the FIPRESCI and also the Audience Awards.

International Festival of Photography

The Thessaloniki International Festival of Photography (Photosynkyria) takes place in Thessaloniki from February to mid-April of every year, attracting the interest of both the photographic world and the wider public, while also functioning as a meeting point for the Greek and the international photographic scene. Photosynkyria exhibitions and events are hosted in a variety of venues around Thessaloniki, including museums, heritage landmarks, galleries, bookshops and cafes.

Photosynkyria was launched in 1988 by photographer Aris Georgiou, and over the past five years has been organized by the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, which annually appoints the artistic director of the festival.

Dimitria

This three-month long festival of cultural events has been held every September-December since 1966. Named after Aghios Dimitrios (St. Demetrius), the patron Saint of the city, it has become something of an institution for the city and very popular with the local population. It includes musical, theatrical, dance events, street happenings and exhibitions, and is organised and overseen by the Municipality of Thessaloniki, celebrating its fortieth anniversary in 2006.

Sports

In October 2007, Thessaloniki organised the first South Eastern European Games. The participating nations were: The Republic of Albania, the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the Republic of Bulgaria, Romania, the Republic of Croatia, the Helllenic Republic, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Moldova, the Republic of Serbia, the Republic of Montenegro, the Republic of Slovenia, and the Republic of Turkey.