Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area. Built near the sea (at the back of the Thermaïkos Gulf), it is a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm.
The ancient forum (dated to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD) with squares, porticoes, additional buildings and odeum (293-395 AD), the palace complex of Galerius Maximianus (4th c. AD), the thermae, the hippodrome, the temples and other monuments and moveable finds (among them mosaics of exquisite art) brought to light in excavations and surveys. In the south square, is the famous Stoa of the Idols, which was two-strayed and lavishly decorated. The Triumphal Arch of Galerius (Kamara), built in AD 305 to commemorate his military successes in general in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. The Rotunda is an early 4th century building which later was converted into a Christian church.
Thessaloniki, with its host of Byzantine monuments (due to it’s significance during the Byzantine period), justifiably is considered an open-air museum of Byzantine art. Wandering through the city, it is worthwhile to see: The churches of Acheiropoietos (5th century) a three-aisled, timber-roofed basilica, the Holy Wisdom of God (Hagia Sophia) (7th century), the Panaghia (Virgin) Chalkeon (1028), Hosios David (12th century), St Panteleemon (late 13th or the early 14th century), is of four-columned cross-in-square type, Ayioi Apostoloi (1310-1314),Taxiarches (14th century), Panagouda a three-aisled basilica with significant icons, Agios Ioannis Prodromos (Nymphaion),Vlatadon monastery a 14th century foundation of which only the catholicon and two cisterns within the precinct survive.
Amazing Ottoman monuments
The White Tower (15th century), the hallmark of the city.The Mosques of the Hamza Bey Cami (15th century), the Aladja Imaret Cami (1484) and the Yeni Cami (1902).Hamams (turkish bathhouses): The Pazar Hamam (15th century), the Pasha Hamam (15th century), Bey Hamam (16th century), Yeni Hamam and the Yahudi Hamam. Bezesteni, a rectangular building with lead-covered domes and four entrances was built in the late fifteenth century and operated as a cloth market.
The Old City (Ano Polis), in which many notable examples of Ottoman and traditional Macedonian architecture still stand, alongside humble dwellings put up by the refugees who reached Thessaloniki in droves, after the Greek defeat in Asia Minor, in 1922.
The historical quarter of the Ladadika. In recent years, a series of interventions to rehabilitate the urban fabric have helped to enhance the Ladadika as a quarter for leisure pursuits.The traditional markets: the Modiano, which is housed in a rectangular building of 1922, with pediment facade and glass roof; the Kapani or Vlalis market; Athonos Square and the ‘Louloudadika’ (literally flower market).
Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, lined with many representative Neoclassical buildings and examples of late 19th century eclectic architecture. The central Aristotelous Square, surrounded by monumental buildings and full of coffee shops and open to the waterfront for a width of 100 meters. Tzimiski street is good spot for shopping with a lot of trendy brand names and activities.
During each year, Thessaloniki hosts significant cultural and commercial festivities, such as the Thessaloniki International Fair (every September), the International Thessaloniki Film Festival (every November) and the International Book Fair (every May).
One of the best cuisine in Greece is in Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki has been a crossroad between east and west, especially during Byzantine times. As a result Thessaloniki's cuisine combines the spices of the east and the Mediterranean flavors. Moreover, being a port, Thessaloniki has always been a good place for fish and sea food. There are several taverns and restaurants where visitors can enjoy fresh fish and sea food as well as famous Greek dishes and international cuisine. Ladadika area's pedestrians are filled with "ouzeri" while traditional taverns are found in almost every part of the city but especially at Kastra. At Aretsou and Nea Krini areas there are many fish-taverns and ouzeri. You should experience a Greek tavern with live Greek music till the first lights of the day .
As far as sweets are concerned, Thessaloniki is widely known for its "mpougatsa" pie, a sweet pie filled with cream and served with flour sugar and cinnamon. Also tsoureki is famous with different flavored variety.
From Athens there are several flights to Thessaloniki. There are also direct flights from Istanbul twice a week .Another choice is to drive by car or by bus from Istanbul.