Thessaloniki Travel Guide

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Thessaloniki Alexander the Great

Thessaloniki Alexander the Great

Ronald Boerjan

Thessaloniki is the second city of Greece and the administrative centre for the north. Its history dates back more than 4000 years. The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 316 B.C. on a site of old prehistoric settlements dating back to 2300 B.C., by Cassander, king of Macedonia, and was named after his wife, sister of Alexander the Great.

During the Byzantine era, Salonica, as it was then known, was the second city after Constantinople (Istanbul), remaining so until its sacking by Saracens in 904. It was restored to the empire in 1246, reaching a cultural “Golden Age” until Turkish conquest and occupation in 1430. Until just a few decades ago the city’s population was mixed as any in the Balkans. Besides the Turks, who had been in occupation for close on five centuries (and even Mustafa Kemal Pascha, today known as Kemal Atatürk was born here), there were Slavs, Albabians and the largest European Jewish community of the period. In World War II when all but a fraction were deported to the concentration camps, in the worst atrocity committed in the Balkans.

Situated on the shores of the Thermaikos Gulf, Thessaloniki is divided in a modern area and the old town. The old town is where most of the sights are. In the old town it will be mostly Byzantine churches and buidlings that you are looking for. They are what Thessaloniki is famous for. You can get glimpses of “Old Salonica” in the walled Kastra quarter of the city, on the hillside beyond the modern grid of streets. In the modern areas you will find examples of recent architecture, that are interesting enough if you are into that kind of thing.

Budget accommodation can be found at the cheap hotels around the train Station, or the hostel at backpackers_refuge@hotmail.com

All the long distance buses depart from the new Bus Terminal, west of the train station, with the exeption of Halkidiki Bus Terminal on the eastern part of the city.

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