THESSALONIKI (Θεσσαλονίκη)

Thessaloniki, formerly Salonika, lies on the western Chalkidikí peninsula at the head of a bay on the Gulf of Thérmai. The city was founded in 316 BCE and named for a sister of Alexander the Great and became the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia. As a military and commercial station on the Via Egnatia, which ran from the Adriatic Sea east to Byzantium, it grew to great importance in the Roman Empire. The city prospered in the Byzantine Empire despite repeated attacks by Avars and Slavs in the 6th and 7th centuries. In the following centuries, the city was attacked by Arabs, Bulgarians, and Normans, its allegiance was forced under one or another ruler until 1246 when it passed into the revived Byzantine Empire. Harassed constantly by the Ottoman Turks, the desperate city ceded itself to Venice in 1423, but the Ottoman sultan Murad II took it with a terrible massacre in 1430. At the end of that century, the severely reduced population was augmented by an influx of 20000 Jews driven from Spain. Thessaloniki became a part of the Ottoman Empire and remained so for almost the next five centuries. It was the birthplace of Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk), and it became the headquarters for the Ottoman Liberty Society, a fraction of the Young Turk movement that initiated the Turkish revolution of 1908. The city was captured by the Greek army in 1912 during the First Balkan War and was ceded to the Greek kingdom by the Treaty of Bucharest (1913). Thessaloniki has it all – beauty, chaos, history and culture, a remarkable cuisine and wonderful, vast sea views. Greece’s second city, which, like the rest of the country, has suffered the hit of the economic crisis and Covid-19 pandemic, but the streets remain full of life. We did climb up to the Byzantine walls to get a view of the city, where old and new cohabit wonderfully: the Arch of Galerius, an intricate 4th-century monument, overlooks the busy shopping drag of Egnatia, while Thessaloniki’s most famous sight, the White Tower, anchors a waterfront packed with cocktail bars. Greta nightlife area just a few steps away from the waterfront, where nights are long and wild, is Ladadika district.

Parking location – Thessaloniki: 40.624416N 22.951305E (🚻 – Toi Toi)