It is the oldest church in Thessaloniki, and some reports say that it is the oldest Christian church in the entire world. Situated at the intersection of the streets Filippou and Apostolou Pavlou, you enter inside which overwhelm you with the breadth and monumentality. It is similar to the Pantheon in Rome but this building has more interior lighting and the decoration is very spartan.
Thesalonika is a city in northern Greece, touching the border with Macedonia. If you are doing a tour of the Balkans this is a city essential to visit. It has a special charm, washed by the Aegean Sea with a very Mediterranean feel. The White Tower was called the Red Tower in the time of Turkish occupation. Now that Greece reconquered their land tower painted white to symbolize peace. If you liked this corner and you want to continue traveling around the Balkans looking at my profile corners to make your path! And if you have any questions, realizamela. I'll gladly answer.
It's five minutes to five. Our train has just entered the station of Thessaloniki. Four hours late, though the other passengers just say "oh yeah, this train is always late"! And the other trains to get to Athens? They are on strike. Then our adventure on a Greek trains stops there. It's a shame, because the train is nice, with nicer scenery than going down the highway with the other twelve thousand cars. There is a night train which takes 6 hours and costs about 30 euros. During the day, the fast train takes four hours and six hours for the slow. The difference is the price, it is 50 euros for the fast and 15 for the slow. There is a pass for the Balkans, if you take the train a lot. There are links with Serbia, Budapest, Sofia, Istanbul and Zagreb, taking between 12 and 24 hours, if all goes well. At the station you can leave your backpack for 3 euros a day.
The Bey Hamami or Baths of Paradise, were the first Ottoman Turkish baths to be built in Thessaloniki in the year 1444. It consists of a double room with separate sections for men and women. At the time, there was no communication between the two sides. Once inside, you stayed on your side. The sections are symmetrical to each other with a parallel axis. The entrance to the men's section was of course wider and better decorated. It is located on Egnatia Street, while the entrance for women, more simple and small, is on the north side of the building. The rooms of the two parts were built in a traditional way, with the coldest room first, then the warmer room and then the main and hottest room. Finally there are individual hot rooms, where you could take off all your clothes in order to sweat. The walls are in contact with the heat coming from a fire beneath. There are marble tablets in the warm rooms for both men and women, with water to cool it. Today the baths are no longer in operation and instead houses a museum that you can visit.
The tourist office of Thessaloniki opens late and closes early. It is a pretty big building, which is also the tourism ministry office, and is responsible for promoting the region. There is much information about the city, its Byzantine churches that are part of UNESCO world heritage, but also on the ancient ruins that surround the city, the islands of the archipelagos around and also how to reach the capital. What I think is a shame is that they assume that you're just going to visit the city, and are terrible for giving directions on how to get to the next town or futher, for example there was nothing about Albania or Macedonia, and the daily buses that go up there. Besides that, they were friendly, and spoke good English. They have maps of the city with the Byzantine churches marked.
The Arch of Galerius in on Gounari Dimitrios Egnatia Street in Thessaloniki. It was constructed between the years 298 and 299 AD and dedicated in the year 303 AD to remember the victory of the tetrarch Galerius over the Sassanid Persians and the invasion of Ctesiphon in the the year 298. The structure was octópila (meaning it had eight pillars) forming a triple arch , constructed with core brick masonry, which in turn was later covered with panels decorated with sculpted reliefs.
I was surprised that the oldest district of Thessaloniki was the upper quarter. As the city has been a port for more than 3000 years, I imagined that people would rather live around it, rather than on the hill overlooking the city. This neighborhood was forgotten with time and the fashion of the great functionalist buildings that were built in the 50s after the war, but now these beautiful houses are mostly restored by those who have left the city centre for a quieter life and especially a nicer house. I loved these houses, painted in bright colors, standing for centuries. The pedestrian area is high up but there are not many cars as the streets are very narrow.
It reminded me of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. In the dome hangs the Greek cross together with scallops and robust columns that support the dome. Although the dome also possesses windows, it does not possess the magic of its namesake in Istanbul. It seems to be floating in the air. The entrance to the Hagia Sophia is free and open to the public, as are all the Byzantine churches and historical monuments of Thessaloniki.
The church is situated in Dikastirion Square, north of the Via Egnatia at the point where it crosses the avenue of Aristotle, which leads to Aristotle's Square. The archaeological site of the Roman city, the forum is to the northeast, as its name, which means "the Virgin of Coppersmiths". THe name comes from its closeness to the area that was originally the city of copper.
The Museum of Byzantine Culture in Salónica is certainly full, with multiple rooms, many interesting elements on exhibit, very nice to visit in terms of functionality and viewing the material, yet there are some points that are quite uncomfortable. For example, as in all museums, you're not allowed to use flash, but in this museum you can only photograph the exhibits, not people. If you take a photo of someone, the guards shout out "No flash! No people!" and make you erase the picture. It's even worse if you ask why you can not take pictures with people they'd give a reason, but in most cases, they do not know or they say they believe it is because it is not normal for a single person to take a picture with a work of art (no exaggeration). This aside, it's a really interesting museum.
What is surprising, is that at the heart of Thessaloniki, in several places, there is a big hole, the size of a block which contains a Greek or Roman ruin. Depending on the time, Greece was Roman or Greek. Among the Romans, the emperor Galerius for example, built several palaces and the triumphal arch on Gounari Street. The ancient agora, the Roman market, is no exception. Used from the third century BC, it is from this period that hail the objects found there. The southeast sector is the most interesting, a bit out of the heart of the ancient agora, with the Roman baths, with two rooms, one, the sauna, the hot room to sweat, and other rectangular, with two plants, for washing, had two pools, one hot and one cold, all that heated by a fire below. The spa complex was built in the second century BC. In the first century, the palace became public, establishing the agora, with rooms on each side with a rectangular porch, and the magnificent Odeon, which can receive over 400 people.
Saint Dimitrios is a Greek Orthodox church and he is the city's patron saint, it was built in 313, but rebuilt in 1948 as fire had destroyed it twice before. The saint who dedicated the church is a IV century Christian martyr, and is now revered as one of the most important Orthodox saints along with St. George. Born in Thessaloniki in 270 he came from a wealthy family, was athletic and heroic and when he was very young joined the Roman army. However, the Roman emperor learned that he was converting people to Christianity so sent to prison and killed him. The church is the largest in the country, is covered in marble and still retains VIII century frescoes and some mosaics from the V to the XII century. People make pilgrimages to the church, to kiss the image of the saint and go down to the crypt or the martyrdom of St. Dimitrios, where it was thought that the saint was buried. The oldest images representing St. Dimitrios can be found in his temple.
The Thessaloniki Airport in Macedonia is a half hour bus ride from the city center. The airport is open all night, and the bus that takes you to the city and back is the #78 and it costs 10 euros. This is the second largest airport in the country after Athens. The London-based Ryanair flights fly into this airport, as well as flights from Olympic Airlines and Aegean Airlines. You can also catch a VION to reach the islands, Mykonos, Limnos, Heraklion ... The airport services are somewhat limited because it remains a small provincial airport .... There are rental cars and hotels opposite there.
Aristotelous Square is the main square of the city of Thessaloniki in Greece. it is located on Avenida Nikis, the coastal promenade of the city, in the city centre. I would say it is the meeting place of the city as it is full of terraces and people relaxing in armchairs under modern awnings. It was a weekday night and in March and seemed summer weekend. The plaza was designed by French architect Ernest Hebrard in 1918, but most buildings were built in the 1950s. Many of those who surround the central plaza since been renovated and its northern part is largely restored in the 2000s. The twelve buildings that make Aristotle Square buildings have been listed by the Hellenic Republic. Due to its location in the heart of the city, the square is used for almost all major celebrations, including the lighting of the Christmas tree Thessaloniki and the New Year countdown. Because of its resemblance to a bottle when viewed from above, an aerial photograph of the square was recently used in an advertisement for Absolut Vodka
Access to the interior is 3 euros for adults and children are free. The case to get rid of the mess that saw rapid arming permanent exhibition dedicated to the city of Salonica organized by the Museum of Byzantine Culture, which are the rooms that are located along the ramp wrapped spiral steps inside the tower to the top. The view is magnificent and under no circumstance will the must lose your visit of Thessaloniki. From the top you see the entire city, the waterfront, the mountains that surround the Heptapirgión control from above. But above all, what struck me most was the ridge of Mount Olympus, snowy peaks under the clear sky on the other side of the bay. It's amazing, no wonder you believe it to be the abode of the Gods. They are a huge mountains despite the distance. On the left, facing the sea, I sense the presence, but without seeing it, fine Halkidiki Peninsula, Mount Athos, home to around 20 monasteries Orthodox (Greek, Romanian, Russian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Georgian) that together make an autonomous territory under Greek sovereignty, and that it was impossible to get in if not under a special permit, discard your visit at least on this trip.