Thessaloniki is a city famous for its beauty, history and the many entertainment options it offers. If you are interested in getting to know the history of the city better, there are some sights of Thessaloniki that should be placed at the top of your list of excursions. These sights are landmarks of the city which carry enormous historical and cultural weight. Thessaloniki after all, has many different faces, as it is an amalgam of influences from different cultures. The history of Thessaloniki begins in 316 BC with its founding by Cassander, one of the successors of Alexander the Great. The city was named after Cassander’s wife and sister of Alexander the Great.
From antiquity until today, Thessaloniki is one of the most important commercial hubs in the region, due to its port that has access to the Aegean Sea through the Thermaic Gulf. The boom in trade made the city the apple of contention for many national claims. It also established it as a cosmopolitan center for the development of new ideas. It is no coincidence that it was one of the first places in the West where Christianity was proclaimed, and later it was chosen as a reference point for both Jewish and Ottoman populations. The only witnesses of this turbulent past are the sights of Thessaloniki, which are carriers of historical and cultural memory
A visit to the treasures of the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki
The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki was founded in 1912, five days after the handover of Thessaloniki to the Greek state, in 1962 the building near YMCA of Thessaloniki was completed, where it is housed today and is one of the most important works of the architect Karantinos. The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki houses many important exhibits that cover a period of five millennia. Some of them are the Treasure of Arabissos, the Attic Sarcophagus with the representation of the Amazon war and the small bow of Galerius.
The treasure of Arabissos dates back to the late Neolithic period (4,500 BC-3,200 BC) and was discovered in Arabissos of Pella. It consists of six golden objects which were considered to bestow divine qualities on their possessors. Their historical value is considered invaluable, as they are among the first objects used to show prestige and power. The Attic sarcophagus in the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki depicts the Amazonian battle on the front. It is one of the largest Attic sarcophagi found. These sarcophagi were especially popular during the Roman period throughout the Mediterranean basin. Their construction required special skill and usually lasted about a year. The impressive arch of the Gallery is a writing sample of the sculpture workshop of Thessaloniki. It dates back to the 4th century BC and was part of a small pagan temple.
Learn the history of the White Tower
The White Tower is a fortress of Ottoman construction that was built in the last half of the 15th century and replaced the previous Byzantine fortress of the 12th century. The White Tower has from time to time adopted many different names such as the Lions ‘Tower, the Janissaries’ Tower and the Blood Tower. Its last nickname testifies to the dark history of the most famous landmark of Thessaloniki as the tower during the Turkish occupation, apart from being the accommodation of the prison of the Janissaries, has also been a prison for death row inmates. After the liberation of Thessaloniki, the White Tower has been used for air defense and as a meteorological laboratory of the University of the city.
The White Tower today is completely intertwined with the special identity of the city. Its visitors, taking a walk on the beach, have the opportunity to visit one of the most important sights of Thessaloniki. The interior of the White Tower now functions as an exhibition space, which, however, receives a controlled flow of visitors for reasons of conservation of the monument.
Take a tour on Aristotelous Square
After the catastrophic fire of 1917 that destroyed almost the entire city of Thessaloniki, the reconstruction of its center was entrusted to the architect Ernest Hébrard. His ambitious plan was never completed, however Aristotle Square is a sample of its architecture. The elegant and majestic buildings on either side of Aristotelous Street with their elaborate columns and capitals make clear references to the Byzantine past of the city. There you will find the statue of the philosopher Aristotle from which the square took its name. In the northern part of the square you will find the statue of Eleftherios Venizelos which is a meeting point for the inhabitants of the city. Finally, in the northern part of the square are the ruins of the old Roman market.
Zeitenlik Allied Military Cemeteries
Certainly, one would not expect places like cemeteries to be among the proposed attractions of Thessaloniki. However, the Zeitenlik cemeteries or allied cemeteries are an important part of the city’s cultural identity. There, is the place where the dead of the First World War who fought on the Macedonian front line. The cemeteries are located in Western Thessaloniki and are divided into five sections, depending on the nationality of the soldiers.
The sectors are French, English, Russian, Italian and Serbian and in total they host 20,589 tombs. Inside the allied cemeteries there are small chapels and monuments in honor of the fallen, while the area of the cemeteries is the national territory of the countries of origin of the soldiers.The cemeteries of Zeitenlik are visited annually by tourists of different nationalities who want to either visit one of their ancestral tombs or pay tribute to the fallen soldiers. Visitors to the cemeteries also have the opportunity to attend exhibitions on the history of the cemeteries and World War I.
Thessaloniki is a city that has endless places to visit. Whichever of Thessaloniki’s attractions you want to explore first, Alpha Drive provides you with a wide range of available vehicles to choose the best one for your personalized requirements. Alpha Drive is always ready to fully cover your car rental needs in Thessaloniki and Halkidiki.
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