THE PEARL OF THE NORTH AEGEAN SEA
Thessaloniki, the administrative capital of Northern Greece also known as Central Macedonia, is the second largest city of Greece. The name of the city is believed to have come from the sister of Alexander the Great, “Thessaloniki”. From its over three thousand year history, the city carries Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman legacies.
You can get around easily by bus. The bus station is in Filippou Plateia Dikastirion. You can also catch the ferry to visit the nearby islands.
There are hotels and hostels to suit all tastes and budgets. Luxury hotels with sea views are available along the harbour and the beach. For those who would like to get away from the city centre, you can also stay in Halkidiki, which is one hour from the city centre.
The coastline of the city, which reminds one of Kordon in Izmir, is one of the most beautiful parts in it. The first place to see here is definitely Lefkos Pyrghos, White Tower in English. This fort, built during the rule of Suleiman the Magnificent, was symbolically baptized and painted white after the city changed hands. Egnatia, a road that dates back to Roman times, passes right through the center of Thessaloniki. Walking on Egnatia Street, you can see examples of Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Helenistic architecture. Hotels, major stores, churches and chapels from 1920s are lined side by side until the end of the street. The upper side of the road, full of complex streets, is the old city which dates back to 300 BC. In the past, Muslims of the city used to live in this part. The other side of the road was where the Jewish population of the city used to live. Following the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917, a straight line began here and this side of the city was rebuilt. You can also visit the upper part of Thessaloniki called Kastra which in the past was a complex of walls, towers and forts with a unique historical and archaeological importance. From there, you can admire a breathtaking panoramic view of the city and even Mount Olympus which is situated on the opposite side of Thermaikos Gulf. Atatürk House, is located on number 75 Apostolou Pavlou Street in Agiou Dimitriou neighborhood of Thessaloniki. This humble house is located in the courtyard of the Turkish Embassy next door. This three-storey house, including the basement, is where the person who brought a nation back to life from destruction, was born. Other monuments that remained from the Turks must be included in the list of places to see. Bey Hammam, Bezesteni (Bedesten), Alatza Imaret, and Hamza Bey Mosque are among the historical heritage sites which stand out. On the eastern side of the city, a smaller version of Hagia Sophia modeled after the one in Istanbul, is for you to see. The area where the ruins of the old Roman Palace are located, is also here. Right outside of the eastern part of the city, in the area where a Jewish cemetery used to be located, there is Aristotle University believed to have 95 thousand students enrolled. The Archaeology Museum across from it, is among places to see with its rich collection. Most of the fairs organized in Thessaloniki are also organized at this intersection. Vasilissis Olgas Street marks the beginning of the region where the wealthy people of the city live. Murdoch Villa, Kapanci Mansion, Casa Bianca, and Allatini Villa, where Abdul Hamid spent his time in exile in Thessaloniki can be seen here.
If you are to head towards the harbour on the street right above the White Tower, which is located at the end of the shore line, an enjoyable shopping spree is awaiting you on Mitropoleos and Tsimiski, Agias Sofias and Proksenou Koromila Streets. Aristotelous Square is the busiest place in Thessaloniki. The surrounding area gets much livelier in the evening. The part between Tsimiski Street and Egnatia reminds one of Tahtakale and Spice Bazaar in Istanbul. On both sides of the square is Iron Bazaar. On the left side is the section for fruits and vegetables, while other side was left for meat and seafood. Do not forget to buy products containing mastic gum, which has antioxidant properties and are very popular here. Be sure to stop by Mastiha Shops. Also, if you want to do last minute shoppings before heading back home you may visit Hondos Center and Mediterranean Cosmos mall, both located not more than 3km from the airport.
Navarinou Square and Iktinou Street are very lively with tables and highlighted trees on the street and crowds outside during summer months. The Marina side of Thessaloniki is called Nea Krini, Karaburnaki in other words, becomes quite entertaining upon nightfall. Halkidiki Peninsula is another location you can head out to see the Turkish breeze. Nea Triglia, Nea Moudania(New Mudanya) and Neos Marmaras (New Marmaris) are located here. Furthermore, just an hour away from Thessaloniki, you may visit the Mount of Olympus, home of the 12 Gods according to the ancient Greek mythology. If you love nature, Olympus will surely not disappoint you as there are opportunities for hiking and climbing in the mountain, as well as the famous Enipeas canyon for trekking.