City Center, Salonica
From Aristotle Square Aristotle Street (Odós Aristotélous) runs northeast into the city center. After crossing Mitropóleos and Odós Tsimíski, two long streets lined with luxury shops, boutiques and other shops, it joins the broad Odós Egnatía, the city's main eastwest street. (In spite of its name this is probably not the Roman Via Egnatia, which is believed to have bypassed the city.)
In the Salonica city center the picturesque Central Market area (Kentrikí Agorá) extends on either side of Aristotle Street, with numerous shops supplying everyday domestic needs as well as many tavernas.
At the west end of the market area in Salonica is the old Turkish Bezesteni, which in the 16th century ranked as the finest bazaar in the whole of the Balkans. To the south of this, between Ermoú and Tsimíski, is a Turkish bath-house, the Yaudi Hamam.
Hamsa Bey Mosque
In the Salonica city center, on the north side of Egnatia Street, between Venizelou and Dragoumi Streets, stands another monument of the Turkish period, the Hamsa Bey Mosque (now known as the Alkazar), which is thought to have been built about 1468.
In the center of the ancient city was the Agora, now a large square, Platía Dikastiríou (Lawcourt Square), laid out after the great fire in 1917. In the lower part of the square, on Egnatia Street, are two notable buildings: Panayía Khalkéon and the Paradise Baths.
Church of the Mother of God of the Coppersmiths
At the southwest corner of the Lawcourts Square in the Salonica city Center is the church of the Panayía Khalkéon (Mother of God of the Coppersmiths), so called because of its situation in the old coppersmiths' quarter. Built in 1028 as the church of the Theotókos and converted into a mosque during the Turkish period, it is a typical example of Byzantine church architecture.
To the southeast of the Lawcourts Square in the center of Salonica, opposite the Panayía Khalkéon, is a large Turkish bath-house, the Tsifte Hamam (= "Double Baths") or Hamam Bey, built in 1444 by Sultan Murad II, which later became known as the Paradise Baths (Loutrá Paradisou). The baths are still in use.
At the north end of the Lawcourts Square considerable remains of buildings of the Roman period have been brought to light in recent years, suggesting that this was the Roman Forum. The site is now known as the Roman Agora (Romaïkí Agorá).
Two blocks southeast of the Paradise Baths along Egnatia Street in Salonica lies a small public garden (on the left), on the east side of which, sunk below the level of the surrounding buildings, is the Early Christian church of the Panayía Acheiropoietos (Mother of God Made without Hands), later also known as Ayía Paraskeví (St Parasceva). Originally built in the fifth century, it was converted into a mosque in 1430, at the cost of some damage to its structure, and restored in the 20th century. Notable features of the interior, apart from the fine spatial effect, are the remains of mosaics and an Arabic inscription on a marble column recording that "Sultan Murad conquered Thessalonica in the year 833 (A.D. 1430)".
St Demetrius Church was originally constructed in the 5th C over the remains of a Roman bath-house. It is the largest church in Greece, featuring marble columns and beautifully carved capitals.
North of Áyios Dimítrios in Salonica, at the junction of Kassándrou and Ayíou Nikoláou Streets, is another Turkish bath-house, the Yeni Hamam (New Baths), also built on Roman foundations.
Alaja Imaret Mosque
Ayía Sofía, at the east end of Hermes Street (Odós Ermoú) in Salonica is an important Christian Church. This three-aisled domed cruciform church on an almost exactly square plan dates from the eighth century. In the ninth and 10th centuries, after the end of the iconoclastic conflict, it was decorated with new figural mosaics, including the Mother of God in the apse (replacing the earlier Cross) and a magnificent representation of the Ascension in the dome. Also notable are the capitals of the columns, which are believed to have come from a fifth century building.From 1204 to 1430 the church of Ayía Sofía was the town's metropolitan church or cathedral (now the Mitrópolis, to the south, in the street of that name). During the Turkish period it became a mosque, the Aya Sofya Camii. It was restored after a fire in 1890 and survived the great fire of 1917 unscathed. A graceful Turkish porch was destroyed in an Italian air raid in 1941, and the church was badly damaged in the 1978 earthquake.
From the White Tower in Salonica a broad avenue, Leofóros Ethnikís Amínas, runs northeast along the line of the former town walls to a large square, Platía Syntrivaníou, which is crossed by Egnatia Street. In the center of the square is an obelisk fountain, set up here by the Turks in the late 19th century and re-erected in its original form in 1977.
Arch of Galerius
Going along Egnatia Street towards the Salonica city center, we come to the Arch of Galerius (Apsída Galeríou or Kamára), the town's most important Roman monument, which is believed to have been erected in A.D. 297. Of the original structure, a double gateway with four brick piers on each side situated at the intersection of the city's two principal streets, there remain three piers on the west side. The four central piers originally supported a dome. Two of the surviving piers, linked by an arch, have a marble facing decorated with four bands of reliefs separated by garlands. The reliefs, depicting scenes from the Emperor's Persian, Mesopotamian and Armenian campaigns (292-311), are among the finest of the kind (note particularly the lively scenes on the south pier). Although badly weathered, these reliefs, both in the individual figures and the grouping, retain much more of their original vigour than the almost contemporary reliefs on the Arch of Constantine in Rome (A.D. 315).
Palace of Galerius
From the Arch of Galerius in Salonica Gounari Street runs southwest to a large square, Platía Navarínou, with remains of the Palace of Galerius (Anáktora Galeríou) which were excavated in the 1970s. On the south side of the site is an octagonal structure, the function of which has not been determined.
To the east of the Palace of Galerius extended the Roman Hippodrome (Circus), which was some 500m/550yd long. Although it has been located by archeological investigation, it has not been excavated because of the modern buildings which cover the site. Here in A.D. 391 the Emperor Theodosius the Great ordered the massacre of 7,000 citizens of Thessalonica, for which he was taken to task by St Ambrose, bishop of Milan.
Rotunda (St George's Church)
From the Arch of Galerius a colonnaded street originally ran north for some 100m/110yd to the Rotunda, which is believed to have been built as a Pantheon or a mausoleum for Galerius (though he was not buried here) and is now known as St George's Church (Áyios Yeóryios). This circular structure with thick, inward-corbelled walls and an interior diameter of 24m/80ft, preserves the remains of fine mosaics in the dome and the vaulted recesses round the walls (one of which was later extended to form the choir of the church). The mosaic in the center of the dome is missing, but below it can be seen the figures of angels, and below these again architectural façades on a gold ground.On the west side of the building is a minaret, badly damaged but still standing - a relic of the time when the church was converted into a mosque (the Hortaci Suleiman Effendi Camii).The Rotunda is now open to the public as a museum (lapidarium).
Church of the Holy Apostles
At the opposite end of the old town, close to the Byzantine walls, stands the handsome church of the Holy Apostles (Áyii Apóstoli; 1312-15), on a cruciform ground-plan, with five domes and richly patterned brickwork (blind arcades reaching up into the roof). During the Turkish period it was used as a mosque, the Soguk Su Camii ("Mosque of the Cold Spring"). The main dome rises high above the barrel-vaulted arms of the cross, with four subsidiary domes over the corners of the portico - a Late Byzantine innovation - which surrounds the church on three sides.The church contains fine wall paintings and mosaics of the Palaeologue period which were discovered during restoration work in 1940. On the north side of the church is a cistern belonging to the former monastery of the Holy Apostles.
South of the church of the Holy Apostles in Salonica, at the junction of Karátsa, Kálvou Andréa and Zefirón Streets, is a Turkish bath, the Pasha Hamam (now known as the Phoinix).
In the northwest of old Salonica, on the north side of the broad Odós Ayíou Dimitríou at its intersection with Odós Dragoúmi Filímonos, is an imposing building now known as the Diikitíron (Dioiketerion; Government House) which houses the Ministry of Northern Greece. It was originally built in 1891 by the Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli on the site of the old Turkish Konak to house the Turkish governor's offices.
Museum of Macedonian Struggle
The Museum of Macedonian Struggle in Thessalonica is situated in a late 19th century mansion which originally housed the Greek Consulate when it was under Turkish rule. Photographs, newspapers, documents and personal items tell the story. In the museum, gun and dagger are on display.
Address: Proxénou Koromilá 23, 54622 Thessaloníki, Greece
Opening hours: 8:30am-3pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), Greek National Day (Mar 25), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter - Christian, Good Friday - Christian
Salonica Folkloric Museum
The Salonica Ethnological Museum contains a collection of traditional local costumes from the districts of Thessaly, Macedonia and Trace as well as hand-woven fabrics, woodcarvings and metal objects.
Map of Salonica Attractions