Archaeology, City Life, GREECE & TURKEY, Museums, Theology, Thessaloniki
 After two long, full days of bus travel, our group was grateful to have a bit of down time in the seaside city of Thessaloniki.  A bustling ancient port, and the second-largest city in modern Greece, it was the perfect place to relax at the midpoint of our trip.  We spent the weekend walking the city, taking in museums, and enjoying the sights and sunshine! 

THESSALONIKI Thessaloniki (Θεσσαλονίκη) historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second‐largest city in Greece. Its honorific title is Συμπρωτεύουσα (Symprotévousa), literally ʺco‐capitalʺ, and stands as a reference to its historical status as the Συμβασιλεύουσα (Symvasilévousa), ʺco‐reigningʺ city of the Byzantine Empire, alongside Constantinople. According to the 2011 census the municipality of Thessaloniki today has a population of 322,240, while the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area extends over an area of 1,455.62 km2 (562.02 sq mi) and its population in 2011 reached a total of 1,006,730 inhabitants. Thessaloniki is Greeceʹs second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre, and a major transportation hub for the rest of southeastern Europe; its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and the southeastern European hinterland. The city is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life in general, and is considered to be Greeceʹs cultural capital. Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi‐annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. In 2014 Thessaloniki will be the European Youth Capital. Founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon, Thessalonikiʹs history spans some 2,300 years. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire and a center of significance during the Ottoman era. Thessaloniki is home to numerous notable Byzantine monuments, including the early Christian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. Thessaloniki’s multi‐cultural identity came to an end with the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey in the 1920s and the annihilation of the Jewish population during the German occupation in 1943. The cityʹs main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans. In addition to its historic roots, Thessaloniki is also a very popular tourist destination in Greece. In 2010, Lonely Planet ranked Thessaloniki as the worldʹs fifth‐best party city worldwide.One can get a taste of Old Thessaloniki in the Ano Poli (also called Old Town and literally the Upper Town) is the heritage listed district north of Thessaloniki’s city center that was not engulfed by the great fire of 1917 and has been declared a UNESCO heritage site. It consists of Thessaloniki’s most traditional part of the city, still featuring small stone paved streets, old squares and homes featuring old Greek and Ottoman architecture. Ano Poli also, is the highest point in Thessaloniki and as such, is the location of the city’s acropolis, its Byzantine fort, the Heptapyrgion and the cityʹs remaining walls, with many of its additional Ottoman and Byzantine structures still standing.


ARCHEOLOGICAL MUSEUM OF THESSALONIKI It houses artifacts from the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from the city of Thessaloniki but also from the region of Macedonia in general. The museum is housed in a building designed by architect Patroklos Karantinos and is an example of the modern architectural trends of Greece. Built in 1962, the museum had a new wing added to it in 1980, in which the findings from Vergina were displayed, up until 1997. In 2001 and 2004, the museum was extensively restored and its permanent exhibits reorganized. The central rooms hold exhibits from the archeological excavations conducted in Thessaloninki and the broader area of Macedonia. The new wing hosts two exhibitions: The Gold of Macedon, with artifacts from the cemeteries of Sindos, Agia Paraskevi, Nea Filadelfia, Makrygialos, Derveni, Lete, Serres, and Evropos; and The Thessaloniki Area in Prehistory, with material from prehistoric settlements, dating from the Neolithic to the Early and Late Bronze Age.


See also the museum website:

MUSEUM OF BYZANTINE CULTURE The Museum of Byzantine Culture was awarded the Council of Europe Museum Prize for 2005, following the concurrent recommendation of the Councilʹ s Committee for Culture, Science and Education. The Museum of Byzantine Culture is housed in a modern building 11.500 m2 wide, of which 3.000 m2 comprise the permanent exhibition area. It also includes spacey and well‐organized conservation laboratories and storerooms, a small amphitheatre, a café‐restaurant and a separate wing for temporary exhibitions, a space of 300 m2 The building was constructed between the years 1989‐1993 on the plans of the architect Kyriakos Krokos (1941‐1998). The building, severe and abstemious, made with exceptionally combined modern materials and characterised by construction of high quality, joins together elements of modernism and of the greek architectural heritage. Among the best works of public architecture of the last decades in Greece, it has been received a special notion by the international committee of the competition Awards 2000 of the Hellenic Institute for Architecture. In 2000 the Ministry of Culture has declared it a historically listed monument, and a work of art.