A Weekend in Thessaloniki, Greece

The White Tower, constructed by the Ottomans in the 15th century to fortify Thessaloniki’s harbor.

With Melnik only 20 kilometers from the border of Greece, we decided to spend the weekend in Thessaloniki before heading to Istanbul. Thessaloniki sits on the Thermaic Gulf, part of the Aegean Sea. One of our favorite parts of the city was the 4.5 kilometer-long promenade along the gulf that allowed for some scenic and peaceful walks, especially in the morning and evening.

Art on the promenade

Every morning fishermen lined up along the promenade

The Arch of Galerius, built between 298 to 299 AD

Thessaloniki’s history spans 2,300 years and the city is packed with ruins from different historical periods. The city was first founded by Macedonians and later fell under Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman rule. It is easy to walk around the city and just stumble upon centuries-old ruins.

The Arch of Galerius and the nearby Rotunda of Galerius were commissioned by the Roman Emperor Galerius

The Rotunda of Galerius, built in 306 AD (the tower is from the era when it was a mosque)

Mosaics in the Rotunda of Galerius, the oldest of Thessaloniki’s churches

Another colorful mosaic in the Rotunda of Galerius

Mural in Thessaloniki

We visited both the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the Museum of Byzantine Culture. The Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki houses sculptures, art, mosaics, jewelry, and everyday household items from the Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods while the Museum of Byzantine Culture follows it chronologically into the early Christian era of the region. One of my favorite exhibits was The Coins of Macedonia  which displayed coins from the 6th Century to 148 BC.

Headpiece from a Roman grave showing images of family members

Coins of Macedonia

Ancient mosaic

A golden myrtle wreath from an ancient grave

Modern map art intermingled with the ancient exhibits

Artifacts from the Museum of Byzantine Culture.

Olive trees lined many of the streets

The Walls of Thessaloniki were constructed during the Byzantine period in 4th century to protect the city.  In order to withstand long sieges and protect against raids, the walls were built over 10 meters high and 5 meters thick. Hiking up to the walls above the old city, offers a great view of Thessaloniki and the Thermaic Gulf!

The Walls of Thessaloniki, dating back to the 4th century

The streets of Thessaloniki

Monastery of Vlatadon, built in the 14th century above the city

Fruit at the market

Olives galore in Thessaloniki!

After two days of walking up, down, and all around Thessaloniki, it was time to set off again. Istanbul here we come!

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