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What to See in Thessaloniki

Archaeological Sites, Monuments, Churches and Museums

Making pages like this really bore the hell out of me. But with a city like Thessaloniki, which has seen so much history and so many cultures I can't really leave out a page on what to see in the daytime, even if for most people the day is something you have to get through so you can go out at night. Luckily for me I had lots of help with this. No, I didn't walk around to all these places gathering information. When I first wrote this I got the information from actual guidebooks and by the time I updated it the wonders of google had made everything easier. Most of these places are within walking distance if you are staying somewhere central. For those who are looking for something more organized Fantasy Travel's Northern Greece Tour includes Thessaloniki and the most important sites in Macedonia as well as the Monasteries of Meteora.

THESSALONIKI ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITES

Arch of Galerius, Thessaloniki The Palace of Galerius at Navarino Square, was built by the Roman Emperor Galerius Valerius Maximianus at the end of the 3rd Century. The Galerian Arch (Kamara) erected shortly before 305 AD to commemorate the victory of Galerius over the Persians. The Roman Market and Theatre are located at the Law Court Square (Dikastiria) south of Egnatia street. Also nearby are The Roman Baths just north of the church of Agios Dimitrios and the Nymphaion, an elegant monopteral, circular building.

The Ancient Site of Vergina
is also a UNESCO site and one of the most extensive archaeological sites in Greece. Located about 2 hours from Thessaloniki. the ancient city of Aigai and the first capital of Macedonia has extensive ruins including the tomb of Phillip and the summer palace of King Antigonas Gonatas. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 3:30 but stays open until 7 in the summer. You can get here by KTEL bus through Veroia and then a taxi or local bus to the site but if you are 2 or more people you should take a taxi and you can stop at some nice places on the way there and back. You can also find tours through a local travel agency.

The Ancient City and Archaeological Museum of Pella is another important site and a little closer to Thessaloniki. Pella was the ancient capital of King Archelaus of Macedonia and birthplace of Alexander the Great. The site is known for its mosaic floors made from small pebbles. exploration of the site began in 1953 and continues today. In 2006, a farmer accidentally uncovered the largest tomb ever found in Greece. You can get here by local Thessaloniki bus or take a taxi and do Pella and Vergina together.

THESSALONIKI MONUMENTS - CHURCHES

Rotonda ThessalonikiThe Rotonda,(photo) a domed building of early 4th century A.D., served as a Pantheum or as a Mausoleum for emperor Galerius. Now the church of Saint George. Was a mosque during the Turkish occupation and the minaret still stands. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage list of most important sites. It is open daily (except Mondays) from 08.30-15.00.
Church of Ossios David (late 5th century A.D.), the chapel of the Latomos Convent, an early Christian church that still stand in Thessaloniki's Turkish quarter known as Epimenidou or Kastra.
The City Walls were erected during the time of Theodossios the Great to guard the city from Democracy Square of nowadays across Eptapyrgio up to the site later occupied by the White Tower, a work of the architect Sinan (first half of 16th century).
Agios Dimitrios , was completely rebuilt in 1948 according the original plans. The church has been destroyed twice before by fire.
The Crypt , the most easterly section of the Bath, is the place where St Demetrios was imprisoned, tortured and buried.
Agia Sofia (8th century) marks the transition from the domed basilica to the domed crusiform church is a copy of the original Agia Sophia in Constantinople..
Panagia Halkeon , a cruciform church, was built in 1028 A.D. according an inscription of that era.
Agia Ekaterini (13th century) is very well preserved externally, with traces of frescoes inside.
Agfi Apostoli (14th century) retains a rich decoration both externally and in the interior, dating at the time of the Byzantine Pateologos imperial dynasty.
Agios Nikolaos Orfanos (14th century), 20 Irodotou Str. tel. 2310 213.627 richly decorated with frescoes in the 17th century it became the chapel of Vlatadon Monastery.
Profitis Ilias was built in 1360 upon the ruins of a Byzantine palace by the monk Makarios Houmnos.
The post-Byzantine era has also left in Thessaloniki an important number of churches.

THESSALONIKI MUSEUMS


White TowerArchaeology Museum
: Near the White Tower and fairgrounds, tel.2310 830.538. Displaying sculpture of the archaic, classical and Roman periods.

White Tower Museum : tel. 2310 267.832. An exhibition of the history and art of Byzantine Thessaloniki covering the period between 300 and 1430 AD. There is a small cafe with a great view at the top.

Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki:
The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki was founded to honour the rich and creative Sephardic heritage as it evolved in the city after the 15th century consequent to the horrible expulsion from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. The Museum is housed in one of the rare Jewish structures that survived the fire of 1917. Located in the very heart of Thessaloniki, this imposing building has at times housed the Bank of Athens and the offices of the Jewish newspaper "L' Independent" and is a silent witness to the great Jewish presence that once filled the streets of Thessaloniki. Open Tuesday, Friday & Sunday: 11:00am - 2:00pm and Wednesday & Thursday: 11:00am - 2:00pm & 5:00pm - 8:00pm. 13, Agiou Mina Street. For more info contact jctmuseo@otenet.gr (for more on the Jewish Community in Greece see www.greecetravel.com/jewishhistory)
New Museum of Byzantine Culture:
2 Stratou St., tel.: 2310 868.570.
Ethnological and Popular Art: 68, Vas. Olgas, tel. 2310 830.591 displaying costumes and objects of the last 250 years of Greek national life and culture. One of the best in Greece.
Museum of the Macedonian Struggle : 23, Proxenou Koromila Str. tel. 2310 229.778. Exhibits from the years of local national resistance 1878-1912.
Gallery of Fine Arts; 1, Nic. Germanou Str. inside the building of the National Theatre, tel. 2310 238.601. Important works of Greek and foreign painters.
Municipal Gallery: 162, Vas. Olgas, tel. 2310 425.531. Museum of the Crypt: Inside the church of Agios Dimitrios, tel. 2310 270.591
Museum of the Society for Macedonian Studies: 1, Nic. Germanou Str. tel. 2310 238.601.
Northern Greece Cultural Centre: 108, Vas. 01- gas Str., tel. 2310 834.4o4.
Macedonian Centre of Modern Art: International Trade Fair grounds, tel. 2310 281.567
Technical Museum of Thessaloniki: Thessaloniki Industrial Area, 2nd Street, Building no 47, tel.2310 799.773.
Museum of Attaturk . The founder of modern Turkey was actually born in Thessaloniki and his house has been turned into a historical museum. Don't be put off if the guard asks for your passport. No, it's not a small island of Turkish territory in the midst of Greece's second largest city, but with ocassional tensions between the two countries they don't want to take any chances of someone defacing the displays. The last time somebody blew up this house in the fifities it set off anti-Greek riots in Istanbul and the expulsion of several thousand remaining Greeks.

And if all this seems like a little too much culture you can always just go to the beach

All Nations Baptist Church of Thessaloniki is part of a network of Baptistic Churches known as the Internatinal Baptist Convention. The church is located at Valaoritou 4, which is one block south of Egnatia, near it's intersection with Dodekanisou at the western end of the city center. All Nations Thessaloniki is an international church comprised of Greeks, Africans, Filipinos, and various other nationalities. Services are in English, with translation available in other languages. Church is on Sundays at 11am, usually followed by a meal. The church has recently (August, 2011) changed its name (formerly GTIF Thessalomiki) and is in the rebuilding process. Pastor Dan Truitt, grandson of a Greek immigrant to the US, is from the Chicago area, has been in Greece for 23 years, speaks Greek fluently, and has a Greek wife and a Greek-American Daughter.

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