The most well known landmark in Thessaloniki is, without a doubt, The White Tower. Currently both a monument and a museum, it’s the symbol of Greek sovereignty over Macedonia.
A bit of history
The tower was constructed by the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and used to guard the east walls of the city. An inscription on the monument dated it to around 1530. A similar tower was built in the Albanian port Valona around the same time which lead historians to believe that the Thessaloniki tower is the art of Ottoman architect Sinan. Mot likely, the present tower replaced an old Byzantine fortification which was mentioned around the 12th century.
The tower was used by Ottomans first as a fort, than a garrison and finally as a prison. Following a massacre of the prisoners in the Tower, it got the name of “Tower of Blood” or “The Red Tower”, which stuck with it until the end of the 19th century.
For centuries , the Tower was part of the old city walls and separated the Jewish quarter from the rest of the city. In 1866 the city walls were demolished as Thessaloniki was annexed to Greece and it was painted in white as a symbolic gesture of cleansing.
Today the color is not exactly white but the name remained. It’s located on Nikis Street (see map) right by the water. The Tower now houses a Byzantine museum.
The permanent and temporary exhibitions at the museum change quite often. Currently, starting from September 9th, the new permanent exhibition is dedicated to the city of Thessaloniki. It presents the city’s history, including the monuments and museums.
Opening hours and entrance fees
The museum inside the White Tower is open from Tuesday to Sunday fro 8 am to 7:30 pm. The museum is closed on December 25 and 26, January 1, March 25, Easter Orthodox Sunday and May 1. The entrance fee is €4 for an adult (according to the official website ) . There are several days when entrance is free so make sure to check the list on the site.
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Non-professional photos and videos are permitted as long as you don’t use a flash light.
Where to stay
There are plenty of budget hotels near the White Tower to choose from. They provide a great base to explore the city center and other landmarks.