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Thessaloniki Description


Thessaloniki, a Developmental Pole of the South Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the Regions of Central Macedonia and Thrace.

Kassandros founded Thessaloniki in 315 BC, to honor his wife, Thessaloniki, sister of Alexander the Great.

The city was built during a very crucial historical period, because of the nation’s expansion to the East.  In 322AD Constantine the Great constructed a squared port for his fleet.  The ruins of the port are well preserved in the foundations of the buildings that were built instead.

Placed at the crossroads of major transport routes, linking Asia to Europe and the Central Balkans to the Mediterranean, endowed with an outstanding natural harbor and a wide zone of influence, Thessaloniki has always been an important cultural, social, commercial and economic center.

Due to the latest international developments, Thessaloniki acquires more socio-economic and cultural relations within the limits of the wider area, nationally and internationally:

  • Firstly as a metropolitan center of Northern Greece and Thrace, because of its very important and strategic position in the Region of Central Macedonia.
  • Secondly as a dominant developmental pole in the Balkan Peninsula, Black Sea Region Countries and consequently as a liaison between Europe and Asia.
  • The metropolitan area of Thessaloniki has a population of about 750.000.  In the city and its suburbia are located:
  • All types of services including public and private sector (i.e. the General Secretariat of Macedonia and Thrace)
  • Accommodations of different types and kinds
  • National and international organizations, i.e. E.S.O.A.V, an Organization, responsible for the plan of the Balkan’s Reconstruction, and BALCINET network (Balkan Cities Network)
  • Industries, refineries, manufacture, shopping malls, etc.

In September of each year, Thessaloniki hosts the International Fair of Thessaloniki, which is one of the most important socio-economic and commercial events held in the city, and is known not just nationwide but internationally.

Thessaloniki is the junction of two very important highways. The first one is the so-called P.A.TH.E. Highway and the other one is the Egnatia Odos Highway.  P.A.TH.E. is the highway that crosses main land Greece from south to the north. Its route starts in Patras, and through Athens and Thessaloniki, it ends in Evzoni, which is the borderline between Greece and the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia.  Egnatia Odos is a highway that crosses Northern Greece from its very west side to its east, meaning that Egnatia Odos starts in Igoumenitsa, a port in the Region of Epirus and a linkage between Greece and Italy, and it ends in the Region of Thrace, in Kipi, the borderline between Greece and Turkey

The junction of the above mentioned highways results to the fact that Thessaloniki will soon become a major transport center.

Through the city’s western entranceway the passengers, approach immediately their points of destination, to and from the Railway Station, the New Terminal Station of Inter City Buses (K.T.E.L.), the harbor and the contemporary airport MAKEDONIA.

Thessaloniki and its culture 

Thessaloniki has an active role through the ages in the field of intellect and education, due to the city’s long living existence and its everlasting culture and civilization.  Thessaloniki is the home of:

  • The second oldest University of Greece, named Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki (AUTH)
  • The University of Macedonia (UofM), founded in 1990.

Aristotelian University was founded in 1925 and was originally named University of Thessaloniki.  In 1954 it was renamed to Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. 

From 1926 to 1950 the following faculties were established at the Aristotelian university: Faculty of Philosophy, Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Faculty of Law and Economics, Faculty of Theology and Faculty of Medicine

In 1955 the Faculty of Engineering was founded.  This faculty actually represents a self-existent institution that is named Polytechnic or Technical University (School of Engineering).  After 1975, through the final phase of the university’s upgrading, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Music, and Theatre was established, as well as the Faculties of Education and Physical Education.

Nowadays, the Aristotelian University has faculties and departments, which offer undergraduate and graduate programs.

Other educational institutions operating in Thessaloniki are:

  • The Technological Educational Institute of Thessaloniki
  • The National Faculty of Judges.

The Municipal Libraries and the city’s History Center are of a great importance in the scholar life of the Thessaloniki.

The History Center’s goal is to collect, record, preserve, classify and study all the direct or indirect data, referring to the historical and cultural heritage of the greater Thessaloniki area and are related to the administrative, economic and social life of the city.

Numerous historical, documents, exhibitions, events, congresses and meetings are organized in Thessaloniki History Center’s establishments.


A cultural crossroad

In Thessaloniki, numerous traces of various eras of the city’s history through the ages are present, starting from the prehistoric years (archaeological area of Touba) up to date. 

Starting from the White Tower, linkage point of the old and new promenades, and ending by the port, Thessaloniki’s historic center is surrounded by the ruins of the city’s Byzantine wall.  The wall ruins have a length of eight kilometers and an average height of ten to twelve meters and are to be visited.  The wall had an adequate number of towers.  Two of them are in existence: the White Tower and the Trigoniou Tower.  The most important monuments, of the city’s Roman Era, are: the Ancient Market, the Palace of Galerios, Galerios’ Arch of Triumph (Kamara) and Rotonda

Nevertheless, Thessaloniki is the city of St Dimitrios and the Byzantine churches which are spread around the city’s historic center.  These churches are still places of worship for the Thessalonians and are frequently visited throughout the year by the tourists.  Amongst the older churches are the basilicas of Virgin Mary (Acheropoiitos) and the Cathedral of city’s patron Saint Dimitrios.  In St. Dimitrios Cathedral there is an undercroft and a shrine.  A monument of great historical value is the church of Osios David in Ano Poli (Upper City), where a unique mosaic of the 6th century AD is present, picturing Christ beardless in young age. Exceptional Byzantine mosaics are to be seen in the church of Saint Sofia and in the Rotonda.  The churches of Virgin Mary (Halkeon), Saint Ekaterini, Twelve Apostles and Saint Panteleimonas are characteristic samples of 13th –14th century AD.  Also, incomparable are the murals at the Temple of Saint Nikolaos Orfanos resembling portable pictures with their golden background.

A large number of more recent landmarks are also positioned in the city’s historic center, especially, in the areas that were not affected by the 1917 fire, which totally destroyed a large part of Thessaloniki and its buildings.  Such places are the Stock Market Square and Ladadika (traditional wholesale market area).  Today in Thessaloniki there are more than 650 landmarks.  A large number of them were renovated and nowadays host several types of services.

  • The General Secretariat of Macedonia & Thrace
  • The Customhouse (in the Port Area),
  • The former 3rd Army Corps,
  • Saint Dimitrios Hospital
  • The Faculty of Philosophy building in the University
  • The Papafio Orphanage
  • Municipality’s Cultural Services
  • The Municipal Art Gallery
  • The Mount Athos Hearth

Thessaloniki, the beautiful and ambient city embracing the gulf of Thermaikos

The city of Thessaloniki is amphitheatrically built round the White Tower vis-à-vis the imposing volume of mount Olympus.

Thessaloniki’s life style is humane, hush and gentle.  The city carries the visitors by offering pleasures of different kinds.  Theatres, cafes, cinemas, clubs, galleries, art halls, concert halls offer a variety of entertainment.

A stroll along the waterfront, by the shade of the White Tower is relieving.  A walk by the city’s ancient wall, a visit at the Tsinari square and at Ano Poli with the breathtaking vista is a must for the visitor.  One can also visit the cafes at the suburban forest of Kedrinos Lofos, the Dasous Theatre (theatre in the forest), the Zoo and the Museum of Natural History.  The suburban forest is a break out for those who love nature, hiking, and picnics.  At the same time the Kedrinos Lofos forest is a shelter for a variety of birds and small animals.

It is a pleasure to stroll and shop around the traditional open-air food markets of Modiano, Kapani and Vlali.  It is also interesting to walk around the streets of the busy and noisy commercial center where one can get good prices.  A coffee break at the cafes of Aristotelous square or at the cafes by the promenade, viewing the city’s harbour is a pleasure for the visitor.  A visit at the Ladadika or at Athonos square is also a must.  There, one can visit the traditional tsipouradika (tsipouro is a local Greek drink made out of grapes).  The Mpit Bazaar is the city’s market where a visitor can find many of the city’s antique shops.

Along the waterfront are located the city’s sailing clubs.  A cruise by a rented sailboat will be an unforgettable experience.

For the less daring there are privately owned boats where you can drink your coffee while enjoying a short trip in Thermaikos Gulf.

The reformation works that take place in Nea Paralia (the Promenade from White Tower to Thssaloniki’s Concert Hall) have created new linear green spaces which are very attractive to the citizens and the visitors.  So far the following gardens were completed: the Sound Garden, the Garden of the Roses, the Memory Garden, the Water Garden and the Music Garden and soon in enough the reformation of the of the next eight will start: the Garden of Alexander the Great, the Sunset Garden, the Sand Garden, the Garden of Shade, the Seasons’ Garden, the Garden of Odiseas Fokas, the Mediterranean Garden and the Sculpture Garden.  Alongside the above mentioned linear gardens the reformation works include open air cafes a pine tree alleyway and a 4km long bike road

Cultural Events

DIMITRIA Festival is a long lasting tradition of Thessaloniki.  Since the day it was established in 1965, many cultural events and world wide famous artists were hosted.  It is a two month festival, which promotes creativity and since 1995 it is amongst the top European Cultural Events.  The event is solely organised by the Municipality's Cultural Services and most of the events take place in theaters and halls owned, managed and maintained by the Municipality.

More information on Dimitria and the annual event programme one can find on:

In 2012 will be celebrated the 100th anniversary of the city’s liberation.

Athletic Events, Youth and Voluntaryism:

The below mentioned athletic events are organized by the Municipality of Thessaloniki:


  • Children’s swimming games
  • Pan-Hellenic Trophy of Mountain Biking that is carried out in the forest Seih-Sou with the participation of about 200 bikers from different parts of Greece
  • Student football, basketball and volleyball championships for boys and girls
  • International Football Tournament for the Blind, organized in cooperation with the union Pyrsos
  • Basketball tournament for individuals with disabilities
  • Football tournament for four persons
  • Volleyball tournament, hosted each May by the New Waterfront
  • Aerobics Festival
  • Beach Volley, organized in cooperation with the Hellenic Federation of Volleyball  (duration of three days)
  • International Men Basketball Tournament, organized in cooperation with the Hellenic Federation for Basketball (duration of three days)
  • International Women Basketball Tournament, in August
  • International Track Meeting, organized in cooperation with the Track and Field Federation (S.E.G.A.S.), each August.

Thessaloniki is a candidate city for the European Youth Capital of 2014.  There is also the Local Youth Council, which is a model of the City’s Municipal CouncilI.

There are

There are also volunteer groups safeguarding the suburban forest of Kedrinos Lofos and a blood bank established by the employees of the Municipality and the citizens.

The events may vary and /or change annually, therefore, one can visit the Municipalitys official site for further information or to contact the office (104A) of Deputy Mayor for Youth, Athletics and Volunteerism in City Hall (ph:+30.2310.87.77.82).