It seems Greece is synonymous with financial crisis these days. We could nearly forget that it also is one of the most beautiful countries in the world and a great holiday destination. My personal favorite is Thessaloniki. It is the second largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Macedonia.
Thessaloniki is a major gateway to the Balkans and the rest of Europe with direct railway connections to big cities like Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul, Belgrade, Moskow and Bukarest. The commercial port is also one of the largest in the Aegean sea.
The city receives, outside of the many festival periods, far fewer tourists than the towns and islands in the Southern regions. It’s a pity because Thessaloniki has a lot to offer. It is a beautiful bustling city with a special atmosphere of old and new, standing side by side.
It is a large and busy port city and a major industrial centre. It also is a young student town as the largest university in Greece, the Aristotle University, is located there. Last but not least it is a very old town with many exceptional historical sites, cultural spots and impressive monuments. On top of it all: Macedonian Greeks are extremely friendly, the food is lovely, the alphabet is cool and the town radiates hospitality.
Thessaloniki was founded around 315 BC by Cassander, king of Macedon in the old town of Therma and the 26 villages around Therma. The king named the town after his wife Thessalonike. She was a half sister of Alexander the great.
It changed hands very often in all these years and is a melting pot of cultures : Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman. Thessaloniki also housed a major Jewish Sephardic community for a very long time.
The town has had its share of bad luck: a big fire destroyed two thirds of Thessaloniki in 1917. The town was then occupied by Nazi Germany during the 2nd World War and large parts of town were destroyed, by bombs this time. After the war Thessaloniki was rebuilt and reconstruction lasted from the 50’s until the 70’s. In 1978 Thessalonki sustained yet more major damage, this time in the form of an earthquake but the city recovered again!
Find out what’s on my must-see Thessaloniki list.