One of the oldest cities in Europe and the second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki is totally different than Athens. Some might say that it’s culturally superior to the capital and for sure just as sophisticated as Athens. The lifestyle is more relaxed bearing a clear eastern influence. It has some of the greatest clubs and bars, playing great music. It’s a shopping heaven for anyone looking for chic and in fashion clothes. And not least, it’s filled with historical sites and museums.
How to get to Thessaloniki
By air, Thessaloniki is linked to Athens, Hania, Heraklion, Ioannina, Lemnos, Lesvos and Rhodes, as well as to major European capitals. Charter flights link the city to several other Greek islands during the summer.
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Rail service link the city to Athens and cities in the Central and Western Europe using the line through Yugoslavia, while the line through Bulgaria links Thessaloniki to Eastern Europe. The line through Turkey provides the link to the Near East.
Buses also connect the city to major Greek cities and to the rest of Europe.
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The city is blessed with Mediterranean climate, having mild rainy winters and hot summers. June, July and August are the hottest months, with temperature averaging 88 F (31 C) in July.
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White Tower of Thessaloniki
Both a monument and a museum, White Tower of Thessaloniki has been adopted as the city’s symbol. It’s also a symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia. The present tower dates from the reign of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, but there has been an older tower on the same site. The tower has been used by Ottomans as garrison, prison and fort. After a terrible massacre of the prisoners in the tower, the tower acquired the name of “The Red Tower”. For centuries, it has been part of the city’s wall separating the Jewish quarter from the cemeteries of the Muslims and Jews. When Thessaloniki was recaptured by Greeks the tower was whitewashed and got its present name. Today it houses a Byzantine museum. On the top of the tower there is a small café offering a great view of the city.
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Archeological Sites, Monuments and Churches in Thessaloniki
Among the landmarks which should not be missed while visiting Thessaloniki, there are: The Palace of Galerius, The Old Arch, Roman Market and Theatre, Roman Baths, Vergina –the first capital of Macedonia-, Latomos Convent –a very old church still standing in the city’s Turkish quarter -, The City Walls, The Crypt and Panagia Halkeon.
Museums in Thessaloniki
Archaeology Museum, located right near the White Tower, displays sculpture from different periods. White Tower Museum houses exhibitions of the history and art of Byzantine Thessaloniki.
Museum of Attaturk is a very interesting place to see. The founder of modern Turkey was born here and his house has been turned into a museum.
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Entertainment in Thessaloniki
Many elegant restaurants, as well as numerous “ouzeries” and taverns cater to every tourist. Clubs and discotheques are opened until late at night. Many prefer to walk along the harbor from Aristotelis Square all the way to the White Tower. The stroll is quite romantic and exactly what you look for after a day visiting the town.