Thessaloniki travel guide
Thessaloniki travel guide
Oct 5 2009, 02:52 AM
Joined: 21-July 05
Member No.: 2,941
Thessaloniki travel guide
Thessaloniki, (also known as Salonika or Saloniki,) has given Greece some of its greatestmusicians, artists, poets and thinkers. It has some of the most beautiful beaches and has some of the finest hotels and best restaurants in northern Greece. Home to the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the International Trade Fair and host to many cultural events, it would take pages and pages to tell you all about the city and surrounding areas and I would have to spend a year there to see it all. But this site should be enough to get you started.
I have always loved Thessaloniki. Like many Greek-Americans I have said that if I am going to live in any city in Greece it must be Thessaloniki, and like many Greek-Americans I have found myself living in Athens instead and wondering why I am here instead of there. Thessaloniki is a very different city from Athens but no less sophisticated and (some might say) culturally superior. The influence of the east is more pronounced, not just in the delicious food, but in the relaxed lifestyle. Thessaloniki is a big city, the most important port in the Balkans, with an almost college town feel, like Boston or Austin, but Greek. The nightlife in Thessaloniki is exceptional, the bars and clubs play great music. The restaurants and ouzeries are among the best in Greece. There are many cinemas showing first-run English language films. The city is also the site of the renown Thessaloniki Film Festival in October-November. The women, considered the most chic in Greece, support a high-fashion industry that rivals Athens so if you like to shop for clothes, shoes and jewelry you will be quite happy here. There are not a large number of ancient ruins within the city but there are enough Roman and Byzantine sites to keep any history-minded visitor occupied, plenty of museums and of course the ruins of Vergina which include the tomb of Phillip, father of Alexander the great. It's also a good starting point for seeing the best beaches of Halkidiki and most beautiful spots in Greece in the region known as Macedonia .
Thessaloniki is the capital of Macedonia and second largest city of Greece. It was first established in 316 B.C. by Kassandros and named after his wife, Thessaloniki, half sister of Alexander the Great. It means Victory in Thessaly. It is here that the Apostle Paul first brought the message of Christianity (50 A.D.) and that Demetrius, a Roman officer died in martyrdom (303 A.D.), thus becoming the holy patron of the city.
Thessaloniki was the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire, next to Constantinople, and is full of beautiful examples of Byzantine art and architecture. In the 15th Century Thessaloniki became a haven for Jews exiled from Spain, who became an important part of the culture, until they were sent to the concentration camps during the Nazi occupation, thus ending a period of four hundred years of Jewish influence both socially and economically. This period roughly corresponds with the occupation of Greece by the Ottoman Turks. See A Short history of the Jews in Greece.
It became a part of the modern state of Greece in 1913, but burned in 1917 creating a homeless population of 70,000. Add to this mix the influx of refugees from Asia minor after the 'population exchange treaty' signed in Lausanne in 1923 between Turkey, Greece and her former allies who abandoned Greece after their defeat in Asia Minor, and you have the makings of a social revolution which took the form of Rembetika music. To this day some of Greece's the most creative musicians including Dionysious Savopoulos, Stellios Kazantzides and Nikos Papazoglou, come from Thessaloniki. (See also A History of Greece.)
The city was rebuilt in the 1920s and today Thessaloniki is a lively modern city bustling with life and movement. Large avenues, parks and squares, lines of trees that frame commercial streets with showy shop windows. Old houses, neoclassical buildings, stand side by side with modern dwellings which makes a walk through any section of the city an interesting journey. The past and present merge at old taverns, "ouzeries", restaurants next to hotels and luxury bars, "bouzouki halls" (Thessaloniki is the cradle of modern Greek popular song, "rembetika"), cinema halls, theaters and sidewalk cafes on street pavements and squares. Small family run taverns and basement pastry shops offer a delicious variety of famous Macedonian specialties, next to stalls of ice-cream sellers for busy pedestrians.
The main squares are Platia Elefterias and Platia Aristotelous, both on the waterfront and alive with cafes and restaurants, children playing or people just strolling. This is the place to be in the summer at sunset if you enjoy people watching. Afterwards walk a few blocks to the Ladadika neighborhood, the old Red Light district (and before that the Egyptian market and later the oil market from where it got its name) which is to Thessaloniki as Psiri is to Athens, full of ouzeries, bars, cafes and bistro-style restaurants and tavernas. The old port area is being rennovated with warehouses being turned into large restaurants and clubs and even an art gallery or two. If you follow the port road of Leoforos Nikis heading east along the bay you will come to the Lefkos Pyrgos, or White Tower is the symbol of the city and is close to the University area with its clubs and bars, and the International Trade fairgrounds are located is nearby as is the excellent archaeology museum. The White Tower itself is also a museum of art and history. It was built in the 15th Century and was at one time a prison for insubordinate Janisaries, the soldiers of the sultan who had been taken from their Christian parents as children and molded into his elite storm troopers. The neighborhood of Kalamaria is a modern area on the eastern edge of the city, overlooking a large marina and the Thermaikos Gulf. There is a green park above the sea and a number of ouzeries, restaurants, bars and cafes and is a hangout for the young as well as families.
Above the lively city is he world of the Epimenidou or Kastra, an area of old neighborhoods with narrow streets and lovely small gardens with children playing in front of wide open doors. Popular songs from old gramophones fill the air along with the sweet smell of flowers that emit their incredibly beautiful aromas at night. This is the old Turkish quarter of the city and is the remains of 19th century Thessaloniki and the walls that surrounded the city are still standing.
A must-visit place is Moudiano, the meat market, in a restored old building full of energy, smells, and some of the most famous old ouzeries in Thessaloniki, some of them with live rembetika music and spontaneous parties.
Thessaloniki is in the process of building their metro system which should do for them what the Athens Metro did for the capital, get more cars off the street and more people using public transport. The train station is also undergoing intensive remodeling in 2008.
Every year in September the THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL TRADE FAIR is held in Thessaloniki, exhibiting Greek and foreign products of every description. After the International Trade is over the GREEK SONG FESTIVAL takes place as well as the very popular Thessaloniki Film festival. Saint Demetrios, the patron of Thessaloniki has his name day celebrated throughout the city on October 26th. During the year, trade fairs for special interest groups are organized by the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair administration. Almost all of the major hotels have convention facilities. Lately the Thessaloniki Film Festival has been gaining more and more attention and attracting film-makers from all over the world. Thessaloniki has a water park, a zoo and magic park which you can read about at Thessaloniki Amusements. It is also the home to one of the two major malls in Greece though getting there can be a problem since it is outside of town in the semi-industrial-rural-commercial wasteland, the kind of area you find outside of most cities but more chaotic with factories and highways mixed with olive groves and sheep and road signs that give you conflicting information. (But who comes to Greece to go to malls anyway?)
If you have a few days to spare and you like cities then come to Thessaloniki. Take a visit to Pella, the birthplace of Alexander the Great. Visit the nearby beaches or wander around the city and see the Archeology museum which is according to Frommer's, one of the best in the world. But be sure to save enough time to the cafes, restaurants, bars and ouzeries of the city where you will really feel the flavor of life in what is surely one of the most interesting and hippest places in Europe. Ouzeries and mezedopoulions like Zythos and my favorite Foul Tou Meze are among the best in Greece. For those who find Greek food bland you will be pleased to find the cuisine of Thessaloniki a bit more spicy. Thessaloniki is also a paradise for shoppers blessed with lots of shops, markets, bars and coffee houses to suit all budgets and tastes. Virtually every side street veers off to locate some Greek delicacy from pastries to artwork. Interesting shops include Micro Extreme, a skateboard and snowboard shop, Dafunkymonkey, a custom t-shirt shop, and hip clothing and accessory stores like Elves, Art Act, Kitchen 29 and Bali. For more see Shopping in Thessaloniki.
What to see:
The Palace of Galerius (300 A.D.) at Navarino Square.
Roman Market and Theatre.(photo) Ruins standing at the Law Court Square (Dikastiria).
Roman Baths. North of the church of Agios Dimitrios.
Nymphaion . An elegant monopteral, circular building.
Vergina, the ancient site 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.
Galerian Arch (Kamara) erected shortly before 305 A.D.
The 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.
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. 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.
Archaeology Museum : Near the White Tower and fairgrounds, tel. 830.538. Displaying sculpture of the archaic, classical and Roman periods.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org (for more on the Jewish Community in Greece see www.greecetravel.com/jewishhistory)
New Museum of Byzantine Culture: 2 Stratou St., tel.: 868.570.
Ethnological and Popular Art: 68, Vas. Olgas, tel. 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. 229.778. Exhibits from the years of local national resistance 1878-1912.
White Tower Museum : tel. 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.
Gallery of Fine Arts; 1, Nic. Germanou Str. inside the building of the National Theatre, tel. 238.601. Important works of Greek and foreign painters.
Municipal Gallery: 162, Vas. Olgas, tel. 425.531. Museum of the Crypt: Inside the church of Agios Dimitrios, tel. 270.591
Museum of the Society for Macedonian Studies: 1, Nic. Germanou Str. tel. 238.601.
Northern Greece Cultural Centre: 108, Vas. 01- gas Str., tel. 834.4o4.
Macedonian Centre of Modern Art: International Trade Fair grounds, tel. 281.567
More information: http://www.greecetravel.com/thessaloniki/
Mar 13 2010, 05:34 AM
Joined: 21-July 05
Member No.: 2,941
Ancient Greece still lives on in lovely Thessaloniki
12 March 2010
For a city break with a difference, why not explore one of Europe's oldest cities - Thessaloniki, writes Nadia Marks
If you are looking for a city break with a difference, then look no further than the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki.
This exciting place, with its long and diverse past, is the country's second largest city and offers a true fusion of eastern and western culture.
Steeped in ancient history, it used to be the capital of ancient Macedonia and was named after Alexander The Great's half sister, when her husband, King Cassander of Macedon, founded the city about 319 BC.
For those interested in archaeology, Thessaloniki holds a deep fascination due to its close links with Alexander and his father, Phillip II. One of the most important archaeological finds of recent years has been the discovery of Phillip's burial ground in Vergina, just outside the city.
Despite being one of the oldest cities in Europe, Thessaloniki today is lively and modern, with a recent history just as fascinating as its ancient past.
As the most important port in the Balkans, it was for centuries a thriving, cosmopolitan centre for trade and has always attracted a big immigrant population.
Before the Second World War, it had one of the largest Jewish communities in Europe, mainly of Sephardic background, who came from Spain in the 15th century. Then, after the 1923 Asia Minor catastrophe, 100,000 Greek refugees also flooded the city.
Each time, this ethnically diverse influx brought with it a new force and new way of life, which has left its mark and made the city what it is today - an exotic and exciting place, buzzing with energy and life.
The food in Thessaloniki is the best in Greece and the city prides itself as the gastronomic centre of the country - and with very good reason. The city centre is packed with bars, restaurants, coffee shops and patisseries to die for. Do not even think about making this trip if you are going to hold back on culinary pleasures. Hospitality is Thessalonikis middle name - and be prepared to be looked after in the best Greek fashion.
With its three universities, the city vibrates with youth and vitality. "Students in this city love to eat," a local told me, "and, even though they don't have much money, they won't accept second best. So, be sure that any place frequented by students will offer excellent food at cheap prices."
There are numerous affordable eateries, especially in the Ladidika area of the city by the old market. You can stroll among the vegetable, fish, and herb stalls and find plenty of cheap tavernas, or ouzeris with authentic food. You can order a feast, or just a couple of plates of meze, with no pressure about how long you hang around to eat it. Mingle with the locals and linger for hours drinking ouzo or delicious local wine listening to music.
If, on the other hand, sophistication is what you are looking for, there are as many fabulously chic restaurants as there are little tavernas - where you can dress up for a glamorous evening and drink champagne and cocktails.
Try Times Foodbar for lunch and sample the best mousaka you are ever likely to have.
Or, for dinner, venture out by the old Venetian wall to .ES (punto es), where the food is a fusion of western refinement and traditional Greek, and be serenaded by an accordion and a violin - the musicians, members of the Greek national philharmonic orchestra by day.
Owner Panos Stamoulis prides himself in his restaurant's top quality, simple but delicious food. "You have to have passion in what you do," he tells me, "and that passion will come through in what you serve your customers."
Restaurants are open until late and Greeks are not in the habit of eating early. You can turn up at midnight and you'll be sure the chef has not gone home.
Many hotels have excellent restaurants, too, which makes them a destination as opposed to a place you are forced to eat if you haven't had time to make a reservation elsewhere.
The superbly modern, new MET has two excellent restaurants - the Pan-Asian Chian and the contemporary Avenue 48 plus a cutting-edge bar with a wide range of specially designed cocktails.
In the last few years, Greek wine has seen something of a renaissance and these days there are many wineries who are big players in the international market.
One of the these is the multi award-winning Domaine Gerovassiliou, which lies just a few kilometres outside the city and is well worth a visit. Apart from having the chance to sample some excellent Greek wines, the location and landscape around the Domaine is breathtaking.
The privately owned family estate stretches over a few hundred acres, surrounded by sea on three sides and a backdrop of Mount Olympus on the other.
A tour of the winery will prove fascinating and the newly opened Wine Museum, housing a unique private collection of corkscrews and viniculture tools, is very informative and interesting.
You can visit Thessaloniki in most months of the year and although January and February can be bitterly cold it's still romantic and picturesque.
The way to explore the city is to choose a hotel in the centre, which will allow you to walk around for hours, shop until you drop - the shopping there is superb - and be able to go back to your room for a nap before hitting the town again in the evening.
The newly refurbished family-run Excelsior boutique hotel in the heart of the city is perfectly located for this purpose.
The 1920s building is beautifully renovated keeping most of its original features, such as ceiling moldings and sweeping marble staircase. It also has one of the most popular restaurant/bars in the city, which local Thessalonites visit in their droves throughout the day for breakfast, lunch, cocktails and dinner.
Nothing in this city seems to be a tourist trap. Athenians come for the weekend to Thessaloniki to sample its culinary delights, night life and culture, which also plays a big part in the city's psyche.
There are numerous museums and exhibition venues to visit and, once a year for the past 49 years, it hosts the International Thessaloniki Film Festival, featuring an eclectic selection of films from main stream and independent international film-makers.
A truly multifaceted and diverse place, a city for all seasons, Thessaloniki offers something for everyone.
THE MET HOTEL
26 October St
48 Thessaloniki 54 627 Greece
10 Komninon St
and 23 Mitropoleos St
GRAND HOTEL PALACE
ES (punto es)
web radio www.musices.gr
Tsimiski St 136
Photographs by Graham Marks
For more information on Thessaloniki
Apr 20 2013, 07:22 PM
Group: Club Scouts
Joined: 4-April 05
Member No.: 2,524
Και μετρό και αρχαία στη Βενιζέλου, λέει το ΤΕΕ/ΤΚΜ
Η προτεινόμενη λύση, σύμφωνα με τον πολιτικό μηχανικό, μέλος της διοικούσας επιτροπής του ΤΕΕ/ΤΚΜ Πάρι Μπίλλια, ο οποίος μίλησε εκ μέρους της οκταμελούς ομάδας εργασίας, έχει χαμηλό κόστος (0,6% - 0,8% του συνολικού προϋπολογισμού του έργου), ενώ –αν γίνουν οι σωστές ενέργειες από όλους τους εμπλεκόμενους φορείς- θα υπάρξουν μόνο μηδενικές (ή το πολύ ολιγόμηνες) καθυστερήσεις στην πρόοδο του έργου.
Με βάση την πρόταση, οι αρχαιότητες διατηρούνται στην αρχική τους θέση σχεδόν στο σύνολό τους (με εξαίρεση μόνο 45 τ.μ. επί συνόλου 1600 τ.μ., όπου θα βρίσκονται σκάλες εισόδου στο σταθμό και κάποια ακόμη τετραγωνικά τα οποία απαιτούνται για τις διελεύσεις αγωγών εξαερισμού).
Οι αρχαιότητες θα αποτελούν επισκέψιμο κομμάτι του σταθμού, δημιουργώντας μάλιστα την αίσθηση ότι βρίσκονται σε ανοιχτό χώρο, χάρη σε αναρριχόμενα φυτά που προτείνεται να τοποθετηθούν, αλλά και στο φυσικό φωτισμό που θα τις πλαισιώνει.
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