Thessaloniki (520 km. north of Athens) is the second largest city of Greece and the most important centre of the area. Built near the sea (at the back of the Thermaïkos Gulf), it is a modern metropolis bearing the marks of its stormy history and its cosmopolitan character, which give it a special beauty and charm. Ever since the 4th c. BC when it was founded, Thessaloniki has kept its urban character and has remained a civic centre and the hub of that region.The city’s centuries-old multicultural history has been associated with great empires, as it has known the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Rule. The town was also greatly influenced by many ethnic and religious groups (Jews, Latins, Armenians and others) as well as Greeks from Constantinople, Pontus [modern-day northeastern Turkey] and Asia Minor [a.k.a. Anatolia].
Focal points in the city
- The Old City (Ano Polis), in which many notable examples of Ottoman and traditional Macedonian architecture still stand, alongside humble dwellings put up by the refugees who reached Thessaloniki in droves, after the Greek defeat in Asia Minor, in 1922.
- The historical quarter of the Ladadika. In recent years, a series of interventions to rehabilitate the urban fabric have helped to enhance the Ladadika as a quarter for leisure pursuits.
- The traditional markets: the Modiano, which is housed in a rectangular building of 1922, with pedimented facade and glass roof; the Kapani or Vlalis market; Athonos Square and the ‘Louloudadika’ (literally flower market).
- Vasilissis Olgas Avenue, lined with many representative Neoclassical buildings and examples of late 19thcentury eclectic architecture.
- The central Aristotelous Square, surrounded by monumental buildings and open to the waterfront for a width of 100 metres.
- Mylos (literally mill). An old industrial complex, built in 1924, today have been remodelled to house cultural events and leisure activities, as well as the industrial buildings of the old FIX Brewery and the VILKA plant.
- Lazarist monastery (1886) by the monastic order of the Brothers of Mercy, and now used for cultural events.
- Royal Theatre
- Thessaloniki Concert Hall. A newly-built, magnificent yet austere, multipurpose venue for cultural and other events.
- YMCA Building, a building of 1924, with a mixture of Neocolonial and Byzantesque architectural elements.