PREFECTURE OF THESSALONIKI - UNIQUE EXPERIENCE
Historic Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece after Athens, which promotes modern Hellenism. It is a city that attracts the interest of historians, archaeologists and ethnologists. It is characterized by a number of majestic Byzantine monuments as it was a center for the ancient Greek, Roman and Byzantine culture while listing monuments from the whole range of historical time. Many of the sites have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In the center of the city dominates the imposing White Tower of 1500 AD. which is a landmark of the prefecture. It was part of the defense of the city while due to its reputation as a prison it was also known as the "Tower of Blood" or "Red Tower" and inside there is a collection of various Byzantine exhibits.
The wider area of the White Tower houses the most important museums of the city such as the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Byzantine Culture, the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art and important cultural sites, such as the Royal Theater and the Society for Macedonian Studies which are permanent stages of the State Theater of Greece, but also the concert hall. On the beach, in the Warehouses of the port, in a series of emblematic buildings are housed the photography museum, the cinema museum and the center of contemporary art. Aristotle Square, which houses the statue of Aristotle, a work by the sculptor Georgios Georgiadis, bequeathed by the architect Ernest Emprar, stands out with its unique architecture and its shops that are one of the most cosmopolitan parts of the city.
There are some important buildings in the square, one of which is the Olympion, where the famous Thessaloniki Film Festival is held and the twin building of the Electra Palace Hotel, while the 12 buildings that surround it are classified as protected. A typical monument is the arch of the Gallery, known as Kamara between the Rotunda and the Palace of the Gallery which is a gathering point. It was built at the beginning of the 4th AD. century after the important victory of Galerius against the Persians. The Rotunda is a spherical building with internal niches, whose destination was worship. The church was converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire in 1591 and a minaret was added to it, the only one in Thessaloniki that survives to this day. The building now functions only as a museum.
The imposing statue of Alexander the Great on his horse Voukefalas by the sculptor Evangelos Moustakas dominates the beach. The statue is located on a unique route with wonderful theme parks along Nea Paralia. The International Fair is the largest trade fair, unique means of internationalization at the national level and one of the most important fairs in the Balkans. It is an important institution since it is visited every year by political leaders and official guests from other countries. It has three conference centers "Nikolaos Germanos", "Ioannis Vellidis" and Helexpo Corona which are equipped with modern electronic and audiovisual systems. The OTE Tower is an emblematic construction of 76 m. that adorns the International Exhibition. Originally built for telecommunications needs, it now houses one of the city's most popular cafes with a rotating floor with 360o panoramic views.
The Ancient Agora was an administrative, social and religious center in the heart of the ancient city a few meters from Aristotelous Square. There were the most imposing and majestic public buildings. Bezesteni, which means fabric, is one of the oldest commercial galleries that retains its old character and houses various small shops, mainly cloth merchants. At its premises, the quality of goods was controlled and exchange rates were set. The "Bey Hamam" or "Paradise Baths" in Aristotle is the oldest Ottoman Bath in the city and the most important in the Balkans. It had separate spaces for men and women while they are considered unique for the decorative compositions and the intricate designs inside them. The famous Navarinou square with its monuments, cafes, restaurants, the park and the characteristic fountain is a reference point together with the pedestrian street of Dimitriou Gounari.
Stoa Modiano and Kapani are one of the most characteristic parts of the city that have maintained their traditional style over the years. They have hosted small shops that sell fresh fruit, fish, spices, etc. since 1925. The designs were made by Eli Modiano who had built the Customs and the villa that houses the Folklore Museum. The celebration that is organized every New Year's Eve stands out, where the whole city has fun until the morning. Characteristic are the area Ladadika, the Port and the area of Valaoritou which are a pole of attraction for lovers of intense nightlife. Impressive bars with views, clubs, concert halls in old factories characterize the area. High gastronomic cosmopolitan restaurants, historic kitchens, ouzo in the old markets and boxes offer unique tasting experiences. The nightlife of Northern Greece is a tradition and is one of the "strong" points of the city.
Of great historical importance are the churches of the city with the most famous being the Church of Agios Dimitrios which is the patron saint of the city which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church of Hagia Sophia dominates Ermou and Agia Sofia streets and is one of the most important Byzantine monuments. On the same street is the early Christian church of Panagia Achiropoietou built in the 11th century and Panagia Chalkeon. The Hagia Sophia which was built in the 8th AD. century, as a copy of the church of the same name in Constantinople during the Byzantine years, was the cathedral of the city. In Thessaloniki are two of the most important monasteries of the city, the male monastery of Agia Theodora and the Monastery of Vlatadon, at the gate of Eptapyrgio, whose enclosure offers a unique view of the port.
The oldest district of the city in the northern part of the old city is known as Ano Poli which starts from Agiou Dimitriou Street to the walls of the Acropolis and is divided into the districts of Tsinari, Dioikitirio, Vlatada, Terpsithea, Koule Kafe, Kokkini Vrisi. The Fortress of Eptapyrgio also known as Genti Koule is one of the most impressive buildings in the city. Tsinari is the last example of a typical cafe of the Turkish occupation in the city that offers traditional dishes. Ano Poli, also called the "balcony of Thessaloniki", overlooks Thermaikos, the walls and reaches Mount Olympus. The Byzantine Medieval walls and fortresses still surround a part of the modern city center. The Triangle Tower on the East Walls and the main gate (Portara) offer a wonderful view.
Next to Aristotle is Athonos Square which is a landmark. In addition to the large number of taverns in the square one can find traditional shops with craftsmen and artisans who maintain the tradition. The forest of Sheikh Sou or Kedrinos Lofos is one of the important forests that extends on the slopes of Hortiatis to the road Eptapyrgiou, Asvestochori. It is the lung of the city and a place of recreation adorned with pines, cypresses, holly and plane trees. "The Gardens of the Pasha" is a unique green park since 1904 that was built by order of the Pasha. It is one of the mysterious places for which there are many myths about hidden paths and magnetic fields. To the west is the cultural center of the Monastery of Lazarists, built in 1886 by the monks of the Order of St. Vincent known as the Lazarists. It was originally built for the education of the clergy and the spread of Catholicism. Today it hosts some of the city's most important cultural events such as theatrical performances, concerts and exhibitions.
To the east is Kalamaria, whose name means the good side of the city. The center of Kalamaria is pedestrianized and is an ideal place for walks and leisure as it has many restaurants and cafes.It is considered one of the busiest places, especially during the summer months with the marina to offer its visitors a unique view with an ideal time of sunset.The districts of N. Krini and Aretsou are the southernmost coastal part of the municipality of Kalamaria, which gathers a number of entertainment and leisure centers.The Nautical Sports Club is one of the most historic nautical clubs of the city through which one can choose: Sailing, rowing, Canoeing, kayaking, swimming. The palace or the Government of the architect Christopoulos is an imposing two-storey building on the cape of small Karabournou, with a view that reaches the ridges of Olympus.
Northwest are Ampelokipoi, Eleftherio - Kordelio, Menemeni, Evosmos, Ilioupoli, Stavroupoli, Nikopoli, Neapoli, Polichni, Meteora and Sykies. The mountain of Chortiatis with an altitude of 1201 m. is a favorite destination for nature lovers. It is known about the Holocaust on September 2, 1944 by the Germans with 149 inhabitants killed. It is also known for the taverns that offer all kinds of meats from simple roasts to hunting, satisfying even the most demanding. Panorama and Pylea are among the areas that ensure privacy, quality of life and grandeur. Thermi is famous for its taverns and also has a wonderful dam of 50 acres of dense pine vegetation which is a recreation area which ends in Triadi.
A short distance away is Oreokastro, a place of unique natural beauty with a green and excellent climate. Its lake is an oasis in the waters of which one can meet ducks, geese, wild birds and animals and is a model amusement park. You can experience incredible beauties such as the Delta Axiou-Aliakmonas-Loudia National Park in Kalochori, one of the most important wetlands where the rivers Gallikos, Axios, Loudias and Aliakmonas flow. The lagoon is home to a large number of birds such as the famous flamingos and others. It is a typical route with rice fields, huts of mussel farmers and reaches the bird observatory of Delta Axios. The area has been included in the network of ecological sites Natura 2000 while it is also protected by the Ramsar International Convention on Wetlands. Halastra is a town bordering the Axios River and its plain is one of the largest in rice production in Europe and fishing with rich production of mussels. Kymina is a settlement whose locals are engaged in mussel farming and fishing, offering fresh seafood.
Peristera is an old settlement that until recently maintained its characteristic Macedonian architecture. In the center of the village is the beautiful church of Agios Andreas, old katholikon of the monastery of Peristera or Peristeronos. Livadi on the ridge Chortiatis - Ombrianou at an altitude of 850 m. surrounded by forests with chestnuts, beeches, oaks is famous for its delicious chestnuts and every year at the end of October organizes a chestnut festival. Galatista is a town built on the slopes of Chortiatis with narrow streets, old houses and beautiful churches. Interesting are the traditions that are preserved, such as the "Camel Festival'' on the day of the Epiphany and the wedding custom of Mania. In the village of Agios Vasilios a few meters from the lake Koronia (Lagada / Agios Vasilios) is the tower of Ag. Basiliou dating to the 14th century which was related not to the defense of the city, but to its supply of fishery and agricultural goods, coming from the lake and the land.
Lagadas which means "valley" is a spa town with thermal springs which are ranked in the top five in the country. Therapeutic properties concern diseases of the joints, bones, rheumatism, circulatory, nervous system, liver, bile, kidneys and skin diseases. Dorkada, a village of Langadas, is the famous yogurt village of Thessaloniki, where the dairies produce mainly yogurt but also feta, mizithra, anthotyro, ariani, butter, milk, etc. Its main feature is the cream that covers the surface of the yogurt. Vasilika is a town that during the Turkish occupation was one of the most important villages and belonged to the villages of Alatades. Mesimeri is a refugee village that retains the characteristics of a traditional village. The church of the Patrons of the village of Konstantinos and Eleni from the Turkish occupation and the picturesque taverns with the local delicacies are interesting.
The beaches of Thessaloniki known for the clear blue waters, the golden sands and the green that surrounds them are ideal choices for short getaways. During the summer months the beaches of Perea and Ag. Triadas are the most easily accessible for those who want a quick dip. They are famous for their taverns by the sea and their cosmopolitan aura overlooking Thessaloniki and the White Tower. Next is Nea Michaniona, picturesque and authentic, which stands out for its fresh fish and clear waters. In Angelochori is also the homonymous beach 400 meters next to the port, sandy for the most part with fine pebbles.Angelochori is the top windsurf and kitesurf spot in Thessaloniki regional unit. In Epanomi there are 3 beaches that compensate visitors. The beach known as Shipwreck with clear waters is a long sandy shoreline, with the shipwreck of the same name stealing the show. The nose needs attention because the currents are very strong. Potamos and Fanari also provide crystal clear waters, a historic "glamor" and are much more organized in terms of their facilities.
The wider area of Thessaloniki is famous for ecological and nature tourism. The spa town of the Municipality of Volvi covers a green area of 120 acres. The Baths of Nea Apollonia is a lakeside settlement whose springs are considered thermal. Lake Volvi together with Lake Koronia are a wetland of international importance called "Lakes Koronia - Volvi ''. Lake Volvi has a tradition in the ancient world, since it was the nymph that together with Hercules acquired Olynthos. It is a protected area of ecological importance as it hosts, among others, 24 species of fish and 254 species of birds. The Valley of Rentina or otherwise Macedonian Tempi is the area between the mountains of Holomontas and Kerdylia near Lake Volvi. The valley is characterized by dense vegetation, the gorge is crossed by the old national and a small river, the Richios. It is an area of ecological importance as it is inhabited by birds of prey and migratory species. The ruins of the ancient Castle are located on a hill at the western entrance of the Straits of Rentina.
The beaches of the Municipality of Volvi with the crystal clear waters and the golden sandy beaches spread in the Strymonikos gulf while they are awarded with "Blue Flag". Asprovalta, Vrasna, and Stavros, are ideal options for short getaways providing high quality. Asprovalta is a popular tourist destination that combines the mountain with the sea and hosts thousands of visitors. The area also offers alternative forms of tourism, as it has sites of archaeological, cultural and religious importance. One of the most famous resorts, Stavros stands out for its natural beauty, but also the options for lovers of water sports. The waters of Stavros are suitable for underwater exploration and water sports as it offers activities such as canoeing and pedal boating. Vrasna is a seaside village between Stavros and Asprovalta built at the foot of the forest of Kerdyllia with traditional architecture and magnificent views of the Strymon Gulf. The beach has fine sand, 3 km long and is awarded EU Blue Flags.
Cultures from Greece, the city, the Balkans and the Mediterranean, are included in the cuisine of Thessaloniki. It is a real paradise for lovers of good food and dessert. The most characteristic product of Thessaloniki is of course the unique round bun. It can be found in bakeries as breakfast, in restaurants as a material in various recipes but also in the traditional carts in the central squares that have been sold for years now by the cookies from or stuffed. Speaking of breakfast we could not but talk about the bougatsa which is a constant value in all its forms with cream, spinach cheese and minced meat. Also characteristic is the stuffed bun made with a traditional recipe, chewy which can be found with chestnut cream, hazelnut, chocolate and other flavors. Confectioners specialize with great interest in political sweets, ekmek, kadaifi, kazan dip and of course the well-known Panorama triangles.
The cuisine of Thessaloniki presents a great variety thanks to the local production of products, animal husbandry and fishing. A different but special dish especially for the early morning hours is the tripe soup that was added to the eating habits with the arrival of the refugees. You should try the famous Moussaka from eggplants, potatoes, minced meat and béchamel, the baked lamb, the tzigerosarmades, the soutzoukaki (bombs) and the Souvlaki. Dorkados yogurt is a special local product made in the area of Dorkados. Grilled fish and seafood or cooked in water together or with olive oil and the corresponding spices monopolize the interest in the seaside taverns. In Kapani, which means buying flour, one can find food, spices, grocery stores, fish, up to household items, tourist items, etc.