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General Information for Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki Thessaloniki/Salonika. The designated cultural capital of Europe for the year 1997, Thessaloniki, has one more ,along many reasons, to be proud of. A sophisticated, diverse city with a distinguishable character of its own offers the visitor a variety of activities, experiences and lovely vistas overlooking the beautiful Thermaic Gulf. The city if privileged to be one of the oldest cities in Europe, combining the triple unity and continuity of Hellenism: the Classical, Byzantium and Contemporary Greece. Its long history, international fame for its artistic festivals, world fairs, cultural and recreational activities along with its immeasurable urban elegance, establish Thessaloniki as one of the most attractive cities. A Macedonian general, Kassandros, gave the name to the city in honor of his wife - Thessalonikeia - daughter of King Philip and half-sister of Alexander the Great, in 316 B.C.

The developement of the city was swift and although it gained its greatest influence during the reign of Emperor Justinian, its impact continued for many centuries despite all the disasters it suffered. Today Thessaloniki is divided into two sections: the upper town (ano polis) and lower town/new city (kato/nea polis). The ano polis spreads from (Athinas) Olympiathos St and is encircled around the significant Byzantine monuments and the Heptapyrghion - a fortress surrounded by seven walls.The nea polis (new city) consist of the University area, that of the Fair and the Park of the White Tower.

Byzantine monuments can be seen side by side with high-rise modern buildings. There are many notable sights to be visited and enjoyed:- the unofficial emblem of Thessaloniki, the White Tower (Lefkos Pirgos), the city's most conspicuous landmark along the sea walk, built around the year 1430 served as the place where the Yenitsaroi (children abducted by the Turks) were incarcerated and today Thessaloniki's Art and History Exhibition is housed there.

North of the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrghos) the grounds - where the International Trade Fair takes place every September (not the best time for the city to be visited, too expensive, too crowded)-are located.

The Ancient Agora (market place) which was unearthed during the 1966 excavations. Among the findings one could see the flagstoned - square with colonades, a small theatre, mosaics and more. The Rotonda, one of the most significant and oldest structures of the city, located in the eastern part of the old city.

Built around 306 A.D. is regarded as the most eminent work of the Roman Period. The Walls, built the 14th-Century A.D. A huge achievement of fortification approximately five miles. Τhe Byzantine Museum (Rotonda), where superb collections of engravings, icons, frescoes and mosaics are exhibited (tel.: 267-832).

Τhe Ethnological and Folkloric Museum. This lovely neo-classical mansion houses, beautiful collections of woven items, intricate embroderies, local costumes and attractive woodcut pieces (Tel.: 830-591). The Center of Historical Studies of Judaism in Thessaloniki, where the long history of Jews of the city is exhibited. The Municipal Gallery, where works of Artists from the entire country are on display. Where to eat and be entertained Thessaloniki has a lively night-life comparable to the one of the capital! It is famous, also, for its restaurants and tavernas with delicious specialites like: steamed mussels, shrimp, soutzoukakia (a type of meatball), pittes and others.

Opposite the White Tower, there is the Olympian Movie theater. Cinema Pallas (Nikis st) and the summer cinema: Natali (Meghalou Alexandrou st) all three show English-language films.

If you like to go on a shopping spree, Thessaloniki is the place. It offers great bargains (on Egnatia St.) but also high quality and very fashionable shops, the woven items are beautiful as well.

- the Arch of Galeriou (Kamara) near the Rotonda, which was built in honor of Galerios, the Roman emperor, after his victorious return from the Persian wars. His triumphs are depicted on the arch in engraved representations - there are some mosques as: Hamja Bei, Alatza Imaret and Bei Hamam - the Patron Saint of Thessaloniki, St Dimitrios, is located in the center of the old city - the Archaeological Museum houses unique treasures of Macedonian history including priceless findings of the famous archeologist Andronikos who discovered and excavated the unlooted tomb of King Philip II (the father of Alexander the Great), in Vergina.

You will marvel at the magnificent finds of Philip's tomb. They are beautifully exhibited (the tomb itself has been off limits to visitors due to the fact that it is still being excavated). Among the displayed items are: exquisite gold jewelry, bronze and terracotta vases, tiny ivory reliefs intricately detailed, a solid gold casket adorned and embossed with the emblem of the royal house of Macedonia (Tel.: 231 830-538).

Opening summer hours Monday from 12:30pm to 7pm. Tue-Fri from 8am to 7pm, weekends and holidays from 8:30 to 3pm. Do not leave the beautiful daughter of Thermaikos, Thessaloniki, before visiting and enjoying gorgeous Halkithiki (Chalkidiki), South-east of Thessaloniki.