Thessaloniki is a city unlike no other, with welcoming, hospitable residents and a unique charm, as it is a crossroad of civilizations where cultures and religions are blended in the most harmonious manner. It is the second largest city in Greece and known as “The Bride of the North”, embracing its long history and bringing an upbeat modern vibe to the table. Its ageless legacy is engraved in everything around you: the White Tower, the Old City, the Galerius Arch, the Rotunda monument, the Citadel, the City Walls, the Byzantine Church of Aghios Dimitrios and its crypt as well as the Archaeological Museum.
Alexander the Great
Thessaloniki was founded in 4thcentury BC and was named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia, Persia, Babylon and Asia. He is considered to be one of history’s greatest military minds and he was the only conqueror in the ancient world that had succeeded in establishing an empire that spread across the world known to man in those times.
Nowadays Thessaloniki is a modern metropolis with a multicultural presence and unique charm and those factors have immensely influenced its gastronomy. Thessaloniki has one of the richest cuisines in Greece as it has kept hints of flavors from various surrounding cultures that have influenced the region. The mouthwatering traditional recipes have been enhanced with modern trends can be found at almost all restaurants and taverns, making the city the place where a meal is considered a sacred moment in one’s day.
The youthful energy that fills up the city center is ongoing all day and night. You will uncover hidden gems in every step you take, from extraordinary modern industrial clubs to historic cafes and homey bars. Thessaloniki cannot shy away from offering an amazing shopping experience. Tsimiski Street is the place to go on a shopping spree to find your outfit of the night!
Walk around Thessaloniki and get inspired by the incredible historical monuments that truly cannot be missed. Start your day with enjoying an astonishing 360-degree panoramic view of this magnificent city on top of the OTE Tower. After you have taken numerous pictures and selfies, continue your walk towards the monumental White Tower, considered as the city’s symbol. Get a taste of the Galerius Palace that is located right in the heart of the city where you will be able to witness important areas of the palace such as the throne room, the atrium, the basilica and the notable Kamara (Triumphal arch). Finally, visit the marvelous Rotonda, which is an incredibly well preserved pantheon.
Christian Orthodox is how 98% of the Greek people define as their religion, which is a very important aspect of the Greek culture. The remaining percentage of the Greek population define themselves as Muslims, Catholic and Jewish. The city of Thessaloniki harmoniously blends all religions creating a multicultural vibe that is difficult to miss. More specifically, for over 400 years Turkey occupied Greece and for that reason the Turkish culture has majorly influenced Greek traditions over the years and as a result elements of their culture are still alive in this remarkable city. Regarding the Jewish heritage in Thessaloniki it dates back to as far as two thousand years ago. Thessaloniki was known as the Mother of Israel as Thessaloniki became a home for a large population of Jewish citizens during World War II.
The most common ways of experiencing a city is by going on a bus or a walking tour and if the city is by the sea, a sailing trip will most definitely make the cut. All ways serve their own unique purpose and can be quite delightful. Nonetheless, Thessaloniki being such a unique city itself deserves to be enjoyed in the most unique way possible. A hot air balloon ride above this stunning city will have you speechless and the views will undoubtedly steal your heart. The best way to view the scenic setting of the Ladadika, or the majestic fortress of Ano Poli or the spectacular White Tower is hands down from above! A very early morning start is ideal, as the sky will have whimsical colors for you to photograph and admire.
Set on the Thermaic Gulf, this seaside city offers an amazing promenade experience that all tourists and of course locals enjoy! It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cloudy or foggy day, the residents of Thessaloniki will find a way to enjoy themselves and keep the spirits of the city lifted. The walk isn’t long; however there are a few main points where one can stop and get lost in the side roads before continuing. You will stumble upon the most famous square of the city, Aristotle Square. If you decide to take the turn and explore the surrounding streets, you won’t get back on the promenade for hours – but it’s worth it! The end of this walk is of course no other than the White Tower that is a famous meeting point. While walking, you will pass by countless restaurants and cafes so on your way back you can just sit at one of your choosing and admire the beautiful sea view.
George Koletsos is Co-Founder of Kudos Life Experiences. Kudos Life Experiences is a custom-designed private travel specialist to Greece, for the discerning and sophisticated traveler who is seeking to return to the authentic form of personal discovery and explore really life-enriching travel experiences.