Thessaloniki is renowned for its riveting history, warm and accommodating culture, as well as its breathtaking views. According to history, Greece was under the Ottoman Turkish rule from 1453 up until 1821, during which, many landmarks were constructed which have played a role in Greek history as we know it today. We therefore present you, 5 +1 Ottoman buildings here in Thessaloniki that are readily available for you to visit allowing you to broaden your knowledge of Greek and Turkish antiquity. There are a variety of Ottoman monuments, including mosques, baths, fortifications, villas and many others.
1. White Tower of Thessaloniki
It may indeed come as a surprise to many that the brand mark of Thessaloniki, the White Tower, is indeed the making and the result of the Turkish rule. The tower was constructed as a means to protect the harbor, but is now well known for its former means of utilization as both a prison and a place of mass execution. The White Tower is located in the center of the city; visiting hours are from Tuesday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The price to enter the White Tower is 3 euros.
2. Bey Hamam
Bey Hamam is another Ottoman building that can be visited in Thessaloniki. Bey Hamam, which can be translated into English as “Baths of Paradise”, was built in 1444. This Hamam was the first Ottoman bath created, and is one of the last ones still standing today. The way in which it was built and designed portrayed Ottoman culture, such as the separate rooms for man and woman. It currently still expresses the appealing, traditional means of detail, décor and art. Unfortunately the baths are no longer in use but have been taken over and maintained by the state. Bey Hamam is open Monday till Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
3. Alaca Imaret Mosque
The third Ottoman building to visit in Thessaloniki, The Alaca Imaret Mosque was built way back in the 15th century. A large proportion of the Turks that ruled Greece as well as the Turkish population now, follow the religion known as Islam and therefore use the mosque as a place of worship. After the destruction of the minaret (a tower with a balcony where an appointed member recites a prayer to lead the prayer), in 1912, the mosque was taken over by the Greek state and is currently being restored.
The Heptapyrgion, otherwise known as the Yedi Kule, is a fortress that was constructed during the times of the Ottoman rule that can be visited in Thessaloniki. The fort acted as a defense mechanism to secure the city’s acropolis. Much like the White Tower, the fort was then transformed into a prison which continued to operate up until 1889. Operating hours are from Monday to Friday and Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
5. Ministry of Macedonia – Thrace
Did you know that the Ministry of Macedonia – Thrace here in Thessaloniki was the place in which Thessaloniki was surrendered back to the Greeks? This Ottoman building underwent various transformations during a long period of time. The Konak was built in 1891 and is still operating to this today.
Bonus: Ataturk Museum
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic of Turkey was born at a place of residence within Thessaloniki. The house has now been converted into a museum right after the City council handed over the right to the Turkish state. Much of what is found inside the house has not been touched and is kept well maintained. Although it is not an Ottoman building itself, it possesses great historical significance and is a great place to visit in Thessaloniki. The Museum is open on a daily basis from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Greece’s impeccable history combines various traditions, cultures and religions throughout the course of history which adds value to Greece as we know it today. The backbone and the foundations of the country were built on blood, sweat and tears. If you have visit Thessaloniki be sure to visit these 5+1 Ottoman buildings!