What are the 10 Best Tourist Attractions in Thessaloniki?
The capital of Central Macedonia, and Greece’s second largest city, dates back to 315 BC. Over the passage of some thousand years, Thessaloniki has amassed an impressive assortment of Sephardic, Hellenic, Hellenistic, Roman, and Jewish structures. It is recognized for being a thriving center of festivals and music, as well as being one of Greece’s most innovative nightlife scenes. Anyone interested in art, archaeology, or world religions would be astounded by the number of temples to be found in Thessaloniki. Here are some of Thessaloniki’s most popular tourist attractions.
#10. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Heptapyrgion
The Heptapyrgion is also known by its Ottoman name Yedi Kule, besides being known as the fortress of the seven towers.
The fortress is situated in the city’s acropolis’ northeast corner. The northern five towers are thought to have been constructed during the city’s fortification in the late 4th century, while the southern five were built in the twelfth century. It was used as a military base until the late 1800s, during which it was used as a prison for 100 years.
The Heptapyrgion is now a renowned tourist attraction, thanks to its spectacular views of the city and its harbor.
#9. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Museum of Byzantine Culture
Thousands of objects from the Prechristian and Byzantine periods are on display in this massive, vast museum.
Frescoes, mosaics, and wall paintings, as well as rescued arches from historic homes, ceramics, and textiles, are among them.
Early Christians, their traditions, values, and everyday life are featured prominently in the museum’s permanent exhibits.
A number of early Christian tombs and graves discovered in Thessaloniki are on view here.
Adults can take guided or self-guided tours of the museum, and schoolchildren can participate in educational programs.
#8. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom)
Hagia Sophia church is one of Thessaloniki’s oldest surviving standing structures.
It was built in the eighth century on the foundations of a third-century monastery.
During the Byzantine period, the church was built based on the architecture of its more famous namesake in Constantinople.
It is now one of the finest examples of Greek domed churches from the time period.
The central medallion of Hagia Sophia’s dome features a magnificent mosaic of the Ascension, with Christ sitting on a rainbow throne.
The Virgin Mary is flanked by angels, and the Apostles are separated by trees.
#7. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Aristotelous Square
While much of today’s square, especially the Electra hotel and the movie theater, was recreated in the 1950s, it was designed by French architect Ernest Herbart in 1918. It was a shift away from the narrow, busy, unplanned streets that had resulted from centuries of Ottoman empire expansion to a more modern scheme, driven by Hebrard. The square was completed shortly after a fire in 1917, and it marked a significant change in the city’s archaeological evolution.
Most parties and civic meetings take place in the square today.
#6. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
This museum houses objects from four of Thessaloniki’s most archaeologically significant historical eras, as well as other parts of Macedonia.
The Hellenistic, Archaic, Classical, and Roman periods are represented in this collection.
Ironically, the structure is built in the modern Greek architecture style.
The museum also focuses on the historical aspects in which ancient Macedonians adorned themselves with gold.
Since the city is prehistoric, there is also a segment that tries to recreate an image of the Thermaic gulf area, which predates the city entirely.
#5. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Nea Paralia
One of the best public projects in Greece in the last two decades is this massive pedestrian waterfront in the eastern urban area.
The promenade, which stretches for about 3,5 km (2,2 miles) from the White Tower to Megaro Mousikis and provides a great space between the sea and the settlement, is small in depth but very long. It has become one of Thessaloniki’s most popular places to go for a walk. Around the promenade’s flanks are cycle and boat rentals, as well as a variety of tasty restaurants and vibrant bars.
#4. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Galerius’ Arch
The Arch of Galerius (or Kamara) is Thessaloniki’s most recognizable Roman building.
Along with the White Tower, it is one of Thessaloniki’s most famous attractions.
Emperor Galerius commissioned the arch as a triumphal monument to commemorate the victory over the Sassanid Persians in 298 A.D. and the conquest of their capital Ctesiphon. The Arch originally had four primary pillars and four secondary pillars. Just two of the main pillars and one of the secondary pillars remain today. The finely carved battle scenes on the archway’s surviving pillars can still be seen by visitors
#3. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: Galerius’ Rotunda
The Rotunda, Thessaloniki’s oldest landmark, is a huge round structure that served as a Roman temple, a Christian church, and finally a mosque.
Its walls are more than 6 meters (20 feet) high, which helps it withstand earthquakes in Thessaloniki.
On the orders of Roman emperor Galerius, the cylindrical building was built in 306 as part of a vast palace complex.
It was either built as a mausoleum or, more likely, as a shrine for him.
Before the Ottomans conquered the site, the structure was used as a church for over 1,200 years.
The Church of Agios Georgios was transformed into a mosque in 1590.
Fortunately, the mosaics that had survived up until that point were not damaged any further; they were merely painted over.
The Rotunda is now a museum after representing three faiths.
#2. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: The Church of Agios Dimitrios
This massive and magnificent church was constructed on the site of an ancient Roman bath where its namesake, St Demetrius, was held captive, executed, and thrown down a well by Roman soldiers, according to tradition. It’s a five-aisled basilica with a ciborium, which is a hexagonal nave. A prominent six- paneled mural depicting St Demetrius with children and the church founders, which is one of Thessaloniki’s finest mosaics, is of special interest here.
This is not only one of the city’s oldest mosques, but it is also one of Thessaloniki’s most historically and culturally significant places of worship.
#1. Tourist attractions in Thessaloniki: The White Tower
The city’s sign is this whitewashed waterfront tower with a square shape. The tower, like Thessaloniki, has a long and illustrious history.
Before the city’s Byzantine and Ottoman defenses were destroyed in the late 1800s, it served as a corner of the city’s Byzantine and Ottoman defenses.
It was a prison and the scene of many tortures under Ottoman rule, earning it the nickname “tower of blood.” The house was symbolically whitewashed and called the White Tower in an effort to atone for this. And if the hue is more of a buff today, it retains its name.
The interior of the white tower is now a large museum depicting everyday life in various periods in Thessaloniki. The third story has a reproduction of a Byzantine period home with its traditional furnishings, in addition to a variety of artifacts.