Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and is considered a modern metropolis. Located on the Thermaic Gulf, it is the capital of the geographic region of Macedonia. Originally called Thessaloníkē after the princess Thessalonike of Macedon, the half-sister of Alexander the Great, the area is now one of the most important trade and business hubs in Southeastern Europe.
Founded by King Cassander of Macedon around 315 BC, Thessaloniki has a rich and long history. In the Roman empire, the region became the capital of the new Prefecture of Illyricum and during the Byzantine era and Middle Ages, it underwent through a sudden economic expansion. The city was captured by Sultan Murad II in 1430 and became one of Ottoman Empire's most important trading hubs. During World War II Thessaloniki was heavily bombarded by Fascist Italy and went through an extensive process of reconstruction and it was rebuilt with large-scale development of new infrastructure and industry.
From discovering neighborhoods and focal points in the city to exploring Thessaloniki's archaeological sites, there is something for everyone. Considered to be a history lover’s haven, the city is full with ancient structures dating back to the late 2nd or the early 3rd century AD, including the ancient forum, the Triumphal Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda. The culture and impact of the Ottoman empire is evident due to the presence of mesmerizing Ottoman monuments scattered all over the city. Don’t forget to admire the beauty of the White Tower and the Mosques of the Hamza Bey Cami.
It is extremely easy to fall in love with this beautiful city, replete with chaos, history and culture. Revel in the marvelous charm of the waterfront area which breathes life and is great for walking and cycling. Designed by the revered architects Prodromos Nikiforidis and Bernard Cuomo, this 3.5 km long walkway is absolutely delightful and numerous tourists and locals can be spotted picnicking, riding, roller-skating or just having a gala time. Visit the sacred Monastery of Vlatadon, built in 1351, which is famous for its mesmerizing blend of history with some of the best views of the city.
Due to its close proximity to the sea, its climate displays characteristics of several climates. Winters are dry with morning frost whereas summers are quite hot with no rains.
Wonderfully charting the history of the city, the Archaeological Museum boasts of many of the region's major archaeological discoveries. From the glorious goldwork from various hoards and graves to artefacts adorned with mesmerizing mythical figures, animals and ivy vines, the museum is a history lover’s haven. It is also home to the Derveni Krater, an historic ornate Hellenistic bronze-and-tin vase marked by intricate relief carvings of Dionysos.
The White Tower, a looming 34m-high tower is Thessaloniki's iconic landmark with its picturesque views. An historic monument dating back to the 15th century, it is one of the numerous examples of architecture built by the Ottomans. Surrounded by mystery and stories, locals believe that the monument was originally called the Tower of Blood until it was painted white by a prisoner in exchange for his freedom after which its name became the White Tower.
Revel in the marvelous charm of the waterfront area which breathes life and is great for walking and cycling. Designed by the revered architects Prodromos Nikiforidis and Bernard Cuomo, this 3.5 km long walkway is absolutely delightful and numerous tourists and locals can be spotted picnicking, riding, roller-skating or just having a gala time. Completed in 2013, the new waterfront is an excellent example of urban architecture.
Museum of Byzantine Culture
The best primer to the Byzanthine Culture, the museum is full of artefacts exploring this long-lived empire and its culture to total beginners. Home to more than three thousand brilliant treasures including mosaics, intriguing tomb paintings, beautiful icons, gorgeous jewelry and glassware, the museum showcases its displays in a wonderful way. It also hosts multiple temporary exhibitions throughout the year, focusing on anything from satirical maps to the work of Cretan writer and mystic Nikos Kazantzakis.
Monastery of Vlatadon
Visit the sacred Monastery of Vlatadon, built in 1351, which is famous for its mesmerizing blend of history with some of the best views of the city. The site of the monastery is historically known where Paul preached in Thessaloniki. Considered important for Hesychasm, a controversial movement whose foremost 14th-century proponent, St Gregory Palamas, is depicted in a fresco here, Monastery of Vlatadon has also been listed by UNESCO.
A rare geological phenomenon, Meteora are a marvel of nature. Literally ‘hovering in the air', these giant rocks were the settlement of monks who lived in caves within the rocks during the 11th Century. But during Turkish occupation, they climbed higher and higher up the rock face until they were finally living on the inaccessible peaks of these rocks. The Holy Trinity Monastery is decorated with wall paintings from the 18th century and takes you back to the magical time of monks living here.
A beautiful village situated in the foothills of Mt. Pieria, Vergina is best known as the site of ancient Aigai, a unique discovery of an enormous universal impact. It was the first capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia and houses the site of the Royal Tombs. Explore the extraordinary museum of Vergina and the grand tombs of Philip II. Admire the gorgeous open-air ruins among other breathtaking sights.
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A charming farming village with a petrol station, pharmacy, newspaper kiosk bakery, a few shops, cafes and tavernas, Pella is the hometown of the Macedonian king Philip II and his son Alexander the Great. It is home to the Pella Archaeological Site which proudly boasts of remains of ancient houses which feature restored colonnades and exquisite mosaic floors and the new marvelous Pella Archaeological Museum.
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Known as the City of Waters, Edessa is the historic site where Caranus established the first capital of ancient Macedon. Famous for its strong walls and fortifications in medieval Greek culture, the city now hosts most of the administrative services of the Pella regional units. Visit the open-air Water Museum which helps locals and visitors understand the history of water-power.
Beloved for its cosmopolitan seaside resorts, beautiful natural landscape, and exotic beaches, Halkdiki is among the most popular holiday destinations in northern Greece. A huge peninsula, it is further divided into three smaller peninsulas, Kassandra, Sithonia and Athos. From popular tourist resorts, luxurious Halkidiki hotels, and organized beaches to secluded coves and a close monastic community, Halkidiki provides something for everyone.
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Known as the home of Zeus and the major Greek gods since before the time of Homer, Mount of Olympus is the tallest mountain in Greece, towering at an impressive height of 2917 meters. Situated on the border of the regions of Thessaly and Macedonia, this beautiful sight reinvents tourists' imaginations today, just as it did for the ancients who venerated it.
Considered one of the loveliest Greek cities, Kavala is home to beautiful heritage monuments and buildings and a veritable Greek urban jungle. This coastal city is decorated with fishing vessels, ferries, sailboats and cruise ships all year round. Take wonderful swims with friends and family in the numerous beautiful beaches, including Ammoglossa Keratitis and Ammolofi, offering turquoise waters and fine sand.
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A melting pot of culture and life, Serres is a historic town in Macedonia full of interesting gems to explore. Have the most magical time in the charming valley of Agi Anargyi, replete with cascades, brooks and an artificial lake. Go skiing at the Serres Ski Centre which offers a collection of mesmerizing slopes.