Greece’s second largest city has a special flavor of its own, thanks to its location, its fascinating past and its prosperous present. Since its founding in 316 B.C. by King Kassander, it has been a crossroad between East and West, the Balkans and the Aegean. Named after the king’s wife, Alexander the Great’s half-sister, the port city was of strategic importance, military and commercially, both to Rome and Byzantium. Its former authority can still be seen in the numerous Roman monuments and Byzantine churches standing within the old city walls. In fact, a visit to Thessaloniki is a unique opportunity to review a thousand years of Byzantine architecture.
Inevitably, the city’s location also meant that it was under constant threat from would-be conquerors, and as Byzantium declined, it became prey to Saracen attacks and Frankish pillaging and occupation, changing hands several times before it eventually fell under the Turks in 1430. It was not united with the Modern Greek state until 1912 and suffered enormously in the two World Wars, especially the Second.
However, the event that most determined Thessaloniki’s present appearance was the great fire of 1917, which wiped out most of its picturesque Levantine districts. Since 1950, it has become a truly modern European city with thriving commerce and industry, a population of some 900,000 inhabitants, a major university, and an international trade fair that has made substantial contributions to the Greek economy. Its tree-lined streets, spacious piazzas, sidewalk cafes and fine Thessaloniki city center restaurants invite the visitor to relax after a shopping spree in fashionable neighborhoods where leather goods, furs and jewelry offer particularly good value. No one should miss viewing the finds from the royal tombs in Vergina at the Archaeological Museum, while the culturally minded will also find numerous art galleries, concerts and theatres as well as the Music Hall of Thessaloniki. Cultural life peaks in October with a month-long festival the Demetria (Protector Saint of Thessaloniki is St. Demetrios).
(Taken under permission from the Halkidiki Hotel Association.)
THESSALONIKI CITY CENTER
The newly renovated City Hotel is just a breath away from Tsimiski Street and Aristotelous square, two of the most famous Thessaloniki Center sights. As soon as you step outside the City hotel in Thessaloniki Center, you will sense the historic vibes mixed with the vivacious modernity of everyday life. The best way to discover the fascinating Thessaloniki Center is with our down town walking excursions. Every step will lead you through the history of ancient Macedonia, mystique Northern Greece, the famous White Tower, the fashionable shopping area of Tsimiski Street and the picturesque Aristotelous square where you can rest and enjoy your coffee or a quick snack right at the center of our beautiful city.
WALK EXCURSIONS IN THESSALONIKI
Moments away from some of the most beautiful sites in Greece, City Hotel near Aristotelous square, offers you the chance to visit historical monuments such as the White Tower, the Rotonda Monument, the National Theatre of Northern Greece and the Garden Theatre. There is so much history blended in this contemporary town that you cannot but be mesmerized by the sights and smells as your stroll around the center of the second largest city in Greece. As the day comes to an end, you can rest in one of the many colorful and vibrant cafes on Aristotelous square, or relax in the beautiful park under the shadow of the White Tower. Only 5 minutes away by car you can visit the Archeological Museum that features amazing exhibits from the city of Thessaloniki as well as the general Macedonia region. Macedonia artifacts and archaic sculptures will captivate you as you enter a world of history and power. On a more contemporary note, you can visit the Helexpo Convention Centre.