Thessaloniki offers the big city energy and cosmopolitan culture in association with smaller town charm and friendly ambiance. Thessaloniki is on the Aegean Sea Thermaic Gulf, a Greek port city offering evidence through the remains of Byzantine, Roman and Ottoman history. There are lots to see in Thessaloniki and it is worth visiting. This is a delightful city featuring different civilizations’ influence, multiethnic heritage, Byzantine churches, ancient ruins and archaeology world-class museums. Here are few best things that are a must-visit:
This is the ancient magnificent monument in Thessaloniki, the Roman Rotunda. This was Saint George’s Church and this was the place that Emperor Theodosius was baptized as Christian. In the fourth century end, he transformed the mausoleum into a Christian church. The Rotunda was called as Cathedral of Thessaloniki. However, the building was transformed as a mosque, under Ottoman rule, the Islamic era relic. But, after the Turks liberation in 1912, Rotunda transformed into Saint Georges Church. Rotunda has a grandiose sanctuary, featuring an architecture that was cylindrical domed. The dome has angles charming figures and on the gold background are architectural facades. The Rotunda is open daily to the public.
The White Tower
This is the Thessaloniki’s recognizable landmark. It can be reached by walk as it is along the Seafront Promenade. The White Tower was the ancient ramparts of the town at the promenades southern end at a small public garden. The White Tower is the relic of seaward defenses. It was built around 1530 by the Ottoman Turks and this imposing tower was mainly a prison. Now, tourists can visit and also see the Museum of Byzantine culture permanent collection. The exhibits of the museum reveal the Byzantine history and also the Thessaloniki art. The collection includes artifacts in an extensive range such as vases, Christian coins, wall paintings, mosaics and liturgical objects.
Church of Saint Demetrius
This Church of Saint Demetrius in Thessaloniki is a spiritual sight that is must-see. It was transformed into a mosque in the Turkish period. There were five Byzantine basilicas built to the Roman Agora north in the fifth century near the Roman ancient bathhouse and even now the remains are visible. The crypt contains ancient Roman road relics. The church acquired its name after Demetrius, a Patron Saint of the town, who was imprisoned in 306 and was executed. For centuries, pilgrims come to visit the relics of the saint that is preserved in the iconostasis in a sarcophagus. The sanctuary is glorious and the largest in Greece with 43 meters long and is ornately embellished. It includes adornments such as varicolored marble columns, finely carved capitals, a dazzling chandelier and the pillars feature small mosaics.
Arch of Galerius
Visitors can visit the Arch of Galerius, towards Thessaloniki’s city center, an ancient Roman monument. This arch was the entrance gate of the main town. Three piers of the original structure remain on the west side. The surviving two piers feature a marble façade linked by an arch. It has elaborate reliefs depicting battle scenes, separated by garlands from Armenian campaigns and Emperor Galerius’ Persian of the third and fourth centuries. These reliefs are carved ornately and are the finest. The reliefs are well preserved than contemporary reliefs in Rome on the Arch of Constantine, dating to AD 315.
This museum is renowned for presenting artifacts in superb collection. The collection spans from late antiquity to prehistory. Visitors can see sculptures from the Archaic times to the Late Roman era. There are several rooms displaying from a sixth-century BC iconic temple architectural elements. The archeological museum hosts exhibitions temporarily on various themes and a showcase of the museum in the lobby displays its finds from the Neolithic site, accompanied by excavation progress.