History of Thessaloniki
315 B.C. Thessaloniki
founded by King Cassander of Macedonia.
The city soon becomes the commercial and cultural center of
Macedonia and of the Balkan peninsula.
168 B.C. The Romans make Thessaloniki the capital of the
Roman province of Macedonia and the Southern Balkans.
The construction of the famous Via Egnatia together with
the city's harbor contributes to Thessalonica's growth and prosperity.
395A.D. Founding of the Byzantine Empire.
Thessaloniki is proclaimed "coregent" with Constantinople.
The city takes on a Byzantine character which it has maintained
to the present day, with more (and more significant)
Byzantine monuments than any other city in Europe.
1430 Thessaloniki is occupied by the Turks.
After a period of economic and cultural stagnation,
the cily begins to exploit the reforming tendencies
of the Ottoman Empire and becomes once again a commercial
and cultural beacon for the peoples of the Balkans.
1912 Thessaloniki is liberated by the Greek army
on the feast day of its patron saint, Aghios Dimitrios.
It soon enters a new period of rapid economic and cultural growth.
1994 Thessaloniki is one of the major metropolitan centers
in the Mediterranean basin.
1997 Thessaloniki: The Cultural Capital of Europe.
Thessaloniki, which is one of the few Greek cities to have experienced constant cultural development, has continuously played a significant
both Greek and world history. For over 4000 years, from the 3rdmillenium B.C. up to the
present day, Thessaloniki has been a city which has attracted the interest of both
specialists and the general public. Visitors to the city can enjoy the combination of
aesthetic delight, historical and archaeological knowledge and natural beauty.
When king Cassander of Macedonia founded Thessaloniki in 315 B.C, on the site of the
Ancient Greek town of Therme, joining 26 townships at the head of the gulf bearing the
same name, he named the city after his wife, the half-sister of Alexander the Great. The
city subsequently gained he reputation of being "Mother of all Macedonia", a
commercial centre possessing connections with all the ports of the East, its own coinage
and a cultural development equal to that of the other Greek cities.
A "Free City" during the Roman era, linked to the East and the West by the
Via Egnatia(l30 B.C.) it preserved the Greek language and its ethnic integrity, developing
into the most populous city in Macedonia with the most important monuments, which continue
to adorn it.
In Thessaloniki in 50 A.D. the Apostle Paul founded the second Christian church on the
European continent and sent it his "Epistles to the Thessalonians".
Joint capital of the Byzantine Empire and cradle of the Christian faith and Greek
culture, Thessaloniki was the "eye of Europe and particularly of Greece".
Thessaloniki still preserves outstanding monuments which are characteristic of Byzantine
art from the 5th until the 14th century A.D. The artistic, intellectual and religious
influences it exerted contributed decisively to the development of the Balkan peoples, who
were converted to the Christian faith by the Thessalonian theologians Cyril and Methodius
The cult of Saint Demetrius, the city's patron saint, spread all over the Balkans.
During the long period of Turkish rule (1430-1912) and despite the terrible acts of
destruction it suffered, Thessaloniki retained its moral and ethnic strength, which the
city had inherited from its age-old culture, and after constant struggles and sacrifices
succeeded in regaining its freedom.
The capital of Macedonia, and a commercial, industrial and spiritual centre of
international importance, the modem city of Thessaloniki can satisfy the demands of any
One can get on overall picture of the history of Macedonia, and more particularly of
Thessaloniki, by visiting the Archaeological Museum; the largest in Macedonia. It has
existed in its present form since 1961, and its galleries are continuously being enriched
with finds dating from prehistoric times up to the early Christian era. The Derveni,
Sindos and Vergina galleries, with their exhibits of unrivalled artistry and importance
are famous throughout the world. The Ethnological and Folk Art Museum, which was
established in 1931 and has been running since 1947, as well as the Museum of the
Macedonian Struggle, enable the visitor to get to know the art and history of recent
times, the traditional architecture which Greek artisans spread all over the Balkans, and
the evidence of the glorious struggles which were waged for the liberation of Macedonia.
A tour of the city will also give the tourist a comprehensive picture of the city's
historic past. One should start at the castles which in their present form extend over 3
kilometers and include 6 towers. the main one of which is the White Tower - the
Thessaloniki. Then one should make one's way to the Galerius complex, which dates back to
the 4th century A.D). with the triumphal arch, the palace and the Rotunda, then to the
Ancient Roman Agora and the Odeon, and finally to the churches, magnificent
early Christian and Byzantine art.
The city of Thessaloniki today, possessing as it does the second largest and most
important port in Greece, the International Fair - which attracts commercial interest from
all over the world- and the largest university in the country, and offering cultural
events, theatres, Modern Art galleries, libraries, some of the most exclusive spores in
Greece, an immense variety of high standard recreational facilities and examples of modern
architecture, art nouveau and eclecticism, offers the visitor an exciting experience.