Things to do in Thessaloniki
ROMAN & BYZANTINE ERAS MONUMENTS
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
The greatest military leader the world has ever known was Alexander the Great of
Macedonia, who succeeded in uniting under his rule the whole of the then known
world. Alexander the Great was born in 356 B.C. in Pella, the capital, at that time, of
Macedonia. His father was King Philip II, his mother Olympiada.
In the city of Thessaloniki the visitor can see the 6.15 m., in tall, statue of Alexander the
Great at the waterfront of the urban centre, close to the White Tower.
THE ANCIENT ROMAN AGORA
The restored ancient roman agora, a commercial, administrative and social centre of
the late 2nd century A.C. and the eminent “Las incantadas”, the entrance to the Roman
Agora as named by the Hispano-Jews is a monument inscribed on the World Heritage
List of UNESCO and some of its parts are also preserved in the Louvre Museum in Paris.
KAMARA/The arch of Galerius
Close to the Rotunda stands the famous Kamara – or the Arch of Galerius, to give its
formal title. The Kamara was erected in 298 B.C. to celebrate the victory of tetrarch
Galerius of the east district of Macedonia over Sassanice Persians.
THE ROTUNDA/Church of Ag.Georgios
The cylindrical church of Agios Georgios is a roman monument of the city. It was built
on the orders of tetrarch Galerius in the 4th century. It was more likely intended to be
a temple for Zeus or Kaveiros. A few centuries later, Emperor Theodosius embellished
it with high artistic quality mosaics and converted it into a Christian church.
The Palace of Galerius
The grooup of buildings comprising the palace of Galerius Maximianus was built around 305 AD and consists of the Palace, the Octagon, the Arch of Galerius, the Hippodrome and the Rotunda.
The Modiano market
The Modiano market built by the civil engineer Eli Modiano in 1922. It is a simple rectangular building with a pediment facade, covered with a glass roof. Inside are shops selling groceries, meat, fish and fruit. There are also little tavernas with traditional food and some ouzo bars that are popular at lunch time when the customers drink standing up.
Church of Aghia Sophia
From the 8th century, at least, until its conversion into a mosque in 1523/24, this was the Great Church of Thessaloniki, in other words the Metropolitan Cathedral of the city. It was built on the site of a large, five-aisled early Christian basilica, probably dating from the 5th century, believed to have been the first Episcopal church of the city. It has recently been maintained that the structure once thought to be a Roman nymphaeum, on the southern side of the modern Aghia Sophia, at the location known as the Holy Spring of John the Baptist (23), was an early Christian baptistery and formed part of the episcopal church complex. This baptistery was also built on the site of earlier and extensive Roman buildings, including thermal baths. Excavations have been carried out around the church, particularly on the southern side and on lots along Makenzi King Street.
Following the destruction of the basilica – probably in the earthquakes of 620-630, known to us from written sources – the present church was built. During the Frankish occupation (1204-1224), it was temporarily converted into a Catholic cathedral. A single-aisled chapel has been uncovered in the northern wall (dating from before the 14th century). Another chapel was later created outside the north-western propylon. On the western side of the courtyard, corresponding roughly to the atrium of the early Christian basilica, there was a Palaeologan propylon with a triple row of columns on both the interior and exterior sides. It was demolished in the repairs of 1908-1910.
The Upper City (Ano Poli)
At the highest point of the walled historic centre, under the Acropolis, a residential area was developed that survived the fire of 1917 and was differentiated from the rest of the city because of its rising terrain and the decision to exclude it from the new urban plan.
On the opposite side, near the port, stretches the Ladadika district. It used to be part of the port market that was set up in the 18th century outside the city walls.
Thessaloniki Film Festival
An important event for the city is the International Film Festival organized every fall, hosted in the renovated “Olympion” building. Many important film personalities have come to the festival, many new talents have made a name here, and many young directors have been given the opportunity to express themselves.
The “Dimitria” Festival has contributed significantly to the enrichment of the city’s cultural life.
The festival was first held in 1966 on an initiative of the Hellenic Tourism Organization and it later became an institution. It is actually a revival of the Byzantine “Dimitria”, a festival held in Thessaloniki every year from October 20 to the first Monday after the feast of the city’s patron saint, Saint Dimitrios (26 October); the festival was considered a succession of the ancient Kaveiria. This old “Dimitria” had the form of a public feast, where commercial transactions were the main event, although it also included artistic and religious events.
In the present “Dimitria”, music plays a leading role, but the festival also features theatre, opera, dance, art and literary activities.
The Municipality of Thessaloniki organizes the “Dimitria” Festival since 1973.
Thessaloniki International Trade Fair
The White Tower is not the only landmark of Thessaloniki; the International Trade Fair is another of the city symbols. It is the most important trade fair event in the country, that reflects the course of Greek economy and production.
The International Trade Fair grounds are in the city centre, opposite the university campus, covering an area of 8.5 hectares.
Every year it opens its gates at the beginning of September for 8 days. However, its activities are not restricted in this short period of time. Throughout the year, the International Trade Fair grounds host other smaller sectoral fairs, which promote the products of the specific sector. These sectoral fairs are the ideal time for commercial transactions, agreements and presentation of innovative ideas. There are also many parallel events, like conferences, seminars, meetings, lectures, and other artistic and cultural activities.