Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece and has a stormy history. The city was one of the second most fundamental pillars of the Byzantine Empire; it was shortly invaded by the Arabs at one point in history. It was later captured by the Ottomans who mercilessly looted and decimated most of the population. The city however continued to remain one of the most powerful trading hubs of the area. Thessaloniki holds testimony to its past through a number of magnificent Byzantine and Ottoman architecture.
Places to visit
The city plays host to a live film-festival which revolves around the youth. In September, they host the International trade fair and in May the International Book fair. Any tourist visiting during these times will witness Thessaloniki full of bustling activity.
Many of the structures built during the Byzantine era were still standing strong. The most famous one is the White Tower, and it is considered to be the symbol of this city. Walls constructed during that period, to guard the city can be seen existing in the northern and western parts of the city.
Coming to the sea-front there is only one tower, which still exists, the AD fortified towers. These towers provide a stunning view of the city during the late afternoon. There is a 12 km long stretch of a promenade, which is a great to have a walk on.
The churches of this city from the Byzantine era are something no tourist can miss. The notable ones are Agia Sophia, Agia Demetrios, St. Nicolas Orfansos, etc. which are UNESCO world heritage sites. The Rotunda, once used as a temple to worship the Greek God Zeus, is extremely old and stunning. The Arch of Triumph built by Caser Galius is also present in this city.
The Thessaloniki city has its own Bus Company known as the OASTH which runs on about 80 different lines. You can buy a one-journey ticket, a two-journey ticket or a 24 hour ticket. The 24 hour ticket entitles you unlimited bus rides on any line in a single day. It can only be bought for OASTH counters.
The trains are operated under the name TrainOSE and offers attractive discounts. Children below twelve get a 50% discount while young people below 26 get a 30% discount along with elderly above 65. If you’re travelling in groups, the trains will give you discount of 30%. People with disabilities and their escorts receive 50% in discount.
There are about 5 car rental companies in Thessaloniki, and they are also a very reasonable option to see the city if one can drive well enough.
The city offers a lot to see, and there is no dearth of places to eat or drink here. A number of bars and restaurants scattered all over the city and will suit the pocket of the budget traveller to the lavish spender. The market places offer cheap spices, meat, fish as well as clothes; there is something for everyone here. If one is looking to witness history striving in the chest of a modern city, there are few places as enjoyable as Thessaloniki.