I recently spent 3 days in Thessaloniki situated along the north of Greece. There are few places in the world where the evidence of colliding empires is so vivid as this particular city. With over 2,300 years of civilization, this region has been home to ancient Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans and finally modern Greeks. Each empire left its mark both culturally and materially – in the architecture, in the food, in the way of life. Thessaloniki has been the cradle of innovation in ancient times and still flows with the same creative energy today. This history presented the perfect backdrop to capture the following scenes of the city. Scenes of everyday candid life. Scenes of ancient ruins. Scenes of spectacular vistas.
What is almost equally amazing is there has been very little focus on tourism in the past. Only the recent Greek Crisis has shifted the focus of the city to look outward for it’s recovery. So while it’s Greece’s 2nd largest city and firmly holds the reputation of Greece’s food capital, it still flies under the radar for most holidaymakers.
I hope that if you didn’t know much about Thessaloniki before reading this, by the end the post you’ll have a better feel for the unique fusion that defines this city.
Ancient Roman arch from a former aqueduct, still standing proudly in the centre of the city.
Late Autumn sun dancing on the clouds above Thessaloniki. On a clear day Mount Olympus, the mountain of the gods, can be seen on the horizon.
Ship cruising past the waterfront – the longest urban waterfront in Europe, stretching over 5 kilometres.
One of the countless small streets housing cafes, bars, shops and even vines like this fine specimen.
One of the finest preserved Ancient Roman ruins, ‘The Rotunda’. Originally it was built as a place for pagan worship. Later it was transformed into a Christian church by the Byzantines. Following on it was repurposed as a mosque by the Ottomans. Now it is a museum.
The beautiful game.
Red awnings cover the narrow laneway which is where we discovered Ouzou Melathron, a fabulous Greek restaurant.
Ancient ruins side-by-side with modern apartments in the centre of the city.
Small fishing boat moored on the waterfront with the bustling port in the background.
Signs of the times. Semi-discarded “higher end” produce market. Only a small fraction of the 140+ stalls are occupied.
Ancient Byzantine church still in immaculate condition.
When the sun goes down the city really wakes up. Dozens of bars are spotted around Valaoritou bars' district. I briefly visited Gambrinus bar, a local favourite.
The first innovation hub in the city designed to equip inspired individuals and entrepreneurs. A fascinating concept.
Bright and bold. A description that quintessentially encapsulates this scene as well as the city itself.
And there was light. Large retro bulb in “Olive”, an aptly named store selling olive oil.
Street art that brightens up your day.
Notice the characters setup above the awnings on each side. These represent the characters that traditionally frequented the area in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Near the outer walls that protected the city for centuries.
The carvings around the base of the arch depict fascinating stories, some of which are completely fictitious and were created for propaganda purposes.
The maths seemed so sound.
Boardwalk along the waterfront of Thessaloniki.
Dressmaker hard at work.
Royal tomb that belonged to Macedonian royalty, most likely the son of Alexander The Great.
Always time for a chat with friends.