Thessaloniki (formerly Salonika) is Greece's second largest city and the busiest seaport after Piraeus. It is also the major cultural center in northern Greece and the capital of Macedonia. Numerous prehistoric remains in the city's vicinity show that the area was settled as far back as 1000 B.C. Its actual founding, however, may be traced to 315 B.C. when King Kassandros of Macedon combined existing small communities and named the new city after his wife, Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. Thanks to its excellent location, Thessaloniki developed into the leading city in the southern Balkans. St. Paul visited here twice in 50 and 56 A.D., and established one of the first Christian communities on European soil.
Thessaloniki is considered more cosmopolitan than Athens. Although many of the older buildings were destroyed in a 1917 fire and during bombing attacks in World War II, the city still boasts a remarkable number of historical landmarks ranging from the 15th-century Venetian Tower to the Arch of Galerius. The Arch of Galerius dates to 303 A.D. when it was erected in commemoration of the Roman emperor's victories over Armenia, Persia and Asia Minor. There are several magnificent churches, many having been converted over the years into mosques and synagogues. Between the 17th and 20th centuries, Jews made up more than half the population as a result of the arrival in 1492 of some 20,000 Jews who had been expelled from Spain. They engaged in all trades and professions and played a dominant part in commerce and industry.
The main hub of Thessaloniki centers on Aristotle Square, a traffic-free area surrounded by arcades that house cafes and restaurants. The pedestrian strip along the water's edge makes for a popular seafront promenade. Two of the main thoroughfares, Odos Mitropoleos and Odos Tsimski, are lined with luxury shops and boutiques. On either side of Aristotle Street extends the picturesque Central Market where numerous shops cater mostly to locals. The city's Turkish heritage becomes apparent in the old Bezesteni, which in the 16th century ranked as the finest bazaar in all of the Balkans. All combined, this extremely congenial city has no problem appealing to residents and visitors alike.
Your ship is scheduled to dock at Macedonia pier. From here, the center of town is approximately 200 yards away. Taxis are available on the pier upon request.
The main shopping district is about 500 meters from the port, including the streets Tsimiski, Aghia Sophias and Venizelou along with their side streets. As the country's second largest city there is a wide range of merchandise, both local and imported, available. Shopping hours are generally from 8:30am to 2:00pm and from 5:30pm to 8:30pm. On Sundays most shops are closed. The local currency is the euro.
Near Aristotelous Square and in the area of Ladadika you'll find many popular cafés and tavernas. Traditional Greek food is delicious, including grilled meats, grilled octopus, dolmas, baklava, and cheese-filled pastries.
These are extensive remains of buildings from the Roman period, suggesting a Roman Forum existed here.
A large Turkish bathhouse dating from 1444 and still in use today.
Walls dating from 285 B.C. surrounded the old town in an almost complete circuit until almost the second half of the 19th century. Originally they had a total length of 5 miles. To tour the walls, start from the Evangelistria cemetery to the north of the University.
Indigo Internet Café, Meg. Alexandrou 53.
Private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be requested through the Tour Office on board.