Your next stop – Thessaloniki, Greece
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Why plan your next trip to Thessaloniki?
- For the food! Thessaloniki is a crossroads of flavours, a metropolis of tastes, a gastronomic capital!
- Fascinating archaeological sites to explore!
- It is a thoroughly modern metropolis that is also seeped in ancient history and surrounded by glorious natural beauty.
Also known as Salonika, Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece. It is also the recognized capital of Greek Macedonia and the most influential urban hub for the northern part of the country. Lying on the north-eastern edge of the Thermaic Gulf, Thessaloniki is bound by Mount Chortiatis on its south-east. When planning your trip, take note that the hottest month of the year in the city is July, with an average 24-hour temperature of 26 °C.
By having so many neighbours, the blending of various nationalities over the years has markedly influenced the language of Thessaloniki. Many words and phrases used commonly in Thessaloniki are not heard elsewhere in Greece. One of these is Χαλαρά / Halará, an adjective meaning “take it easy”; it is the main word with which other Greeks describe Thessaloniki and the way of life there.
See and Do
Being a coastal city, Thessaloniki has developed into a modern metropolis, yet it has managed to hold on to its rich history and cosmopolitan character, and is widely renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general. Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually.
When in Thessaloniki, the number-one thing on your list should be a tour of the city's fantastic architecture, a direct result of the city's position at the centre of nearly all historical developments in the Balkans. The walled Kastra (Castle), also called Ano Poli (Old Town), contains important Byzantine churches and timber-framed, pastel-painted houses with overhanging upper storeys. Climb the tower within its ancient walls for wonderful panoramic views of the city and the gulf. Another architectural site with an interesting, and controversial, history is the White Tower (15th century); the hallmark of the city, it also contains a history museum.
The Triumphal Arch of Galerius (Kamara) and its associated Rotunda were built in AD 305 to commemorate the general's military successes in the eastern provinces of the Roman Empire. What makes the Rotunda so interesting is its having gone through multiple periods of use and modification; it's been a polytheist temple, a Christian basilica, a Muslim mosque, and again a Christian church. Today, a minaret can still be seen on one side of the Rotunda, preserved from the times when it was used as a mosque.
Make sure you visit the traditional markets of Thessaloniki: the enclosed, glass-roofed Modiano; the Kapani (Vlalis) market – a patchwork of charmingly rustic shops crowded one next to the other as far as the eye can see; Athonos Square – a pedestrian quarter with food markets and tavernas; and the colourful, open-air Louloudadika flower market.