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THE MAGNIFICENCE OF HER LANDMARKS

"And may she be named Thessaloniki", said King Philip of his first daughter, Argo. Later, Kassandros, Alexander the Great's general who succeeded him on the thorne, married the young princess and gave her name to the city he founded (316-315 BC). From here, St. Paul, the Apostle of the Nations, spread the Word of Christianity (AD 50). And the Roman emperor, Galerius, made the city his headquarters (AD 300). Here, too, Demetrios, a Roman officer, was martyred, thus becoming Thessalonica’s patron saint (303). The wealth and glory of Byzantium followed. Along with a succession of enemies (Slavs, Avars, Saracens, Normans, Catalans and Turks), but each time, after each invasion, Thessalonica survived, clad in the Byzantine and ancient garb for which she was predestined. Her beauty was trumpeted far and wide.

  • The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda with its mosaics. Agia Sofia, The Ahiropiitos, Ossios David, Agii Apostoli, the Vlatadon Monastery, Agios Demetrios, Profitis Ilias, Agios Nikolaos - churches representing every phase of Byzantine architecture and painting - as well as Byzantine walls, castles and towers.
  • The White Tower, build on the site of an older tower, and the other tower, its twin, the Trigonio. The Archaeological Museum is a true surprise, the wealth and splendour of its contents fixes us like a magnet, while the Folk Art Museum entrances us with its lovely crafts from the 18th and 19th centuries.
  • Not far from the museum is a contemporary landmark, the International Fair Grounds, a crossroads where people meet in friendship and cooperation, while above it looms the University named after Aristotle.

All Thessaloniki pulsates with life. The streets are bustling with activity. The streets are aflow with cars. Spacious avenues, parks, squares, trees. Streets lined with shops and alluring show-windows. Old, neoclassical houses, next to modern apartment blocks. And plenty of tavemas, ouzeris, restaurants, hotels, night clubs, bars, "bouzoukia" (Thessaloniki was where rebetika, the Greek "blues", was born), cinemas theatres, cafes whose chairs and tables fill the pavements and the piazzas. Little dives and cellars specializing in Macedonian treats. Places to "hang out" and have an ice-cream cone or a "submarine"(a spoonful of something sweet dipped in a glass of ice water). And places where you can just be quiet. Another world after the brouhaha of the city. The Upper Town with its poetry and charm. Old neighborhoods with narrow alleyways and gardens. Courtyards draped with laundry. Wide-open doors and carefree children playing. Rebetika melodies and the scent of exotic flowers waft through the air. With your every step you glimpse the heart of Thessalonica. An immortal heart, a perpetual beat. An inseparable companion in joy and in sorrow.

 

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