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In the Upper Town stands the church of the Archangels, dedicated to Michael and Gabriel | © eFesenko / Shutterstock
In the Upper Town stands the church of the Archangels, dedicated to Michael and Gabriel | © eFesenko / Shutterstock

Ano Poli: Thessaloniki's Most Colourful and Historic Neighbourhood

Picture of Ethel Dilouambaka
Updated: 5 January 2018

Perched around Thessaloniki’s acropolis, in the north of the city, Ano Poli, or Upper Town, is one of the only historic neighbourhoods that survived the Great Fire of 1917. As such, it boasts an old-time charm, with its old mansions and houses, stone-paved alleys and streets and fantastic vistas over the city and gulf. Join us on a walk around this colourful district of Greece’s second city.

Enclosed within the city’s old walls, the charming Ano Poli is the historic area of Thessaloniki that many consider to be the most beautiful in town. After you have explored the city centre and its numerous archaeological and historical gems, head straight to its upper part.

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Traditional house located in Ano Poli, in Thessaloniki, Greece | © Panos Karas / Shutterstock

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Traditional house located in Ano Poli, in Thessaloniki, Greece | © Panos Karas / Shutterstock

You can start with Tsinari, a prominent and beautiful part of Ano Poli.

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Small houses with a sea view in the upper part of the city of Thessaloniki | © Andrei Bortnikau / Shutterstock

It is filled with tavernas and little cafes, where locals and visitors alike come to enjoy delicious coffee or a delicious meal.

Ano Poli is dominated by the Eptapyrgio, the Byzantine and Ottoman fortress that overlooks the city.

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The view on Byzantine fort, named Heptapyrgion, from the city ramparts, Thessaloniki, Greece | © eFesenko / Shutterstock

From there, join the groups of youngsters and couples that climb up to admire the sun setting over the sea before heading back down to the nearby taverns. You may be lucky enough to admire the majestic Mount Olympus, towering the horizon line on clear days.

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The view of Thessaloniki from the ramparts. In the centre is the Rotunda of Galerius, Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki | © Andrei Bortnikau / Shutterstock

But Ano Poli is much more than simply a picturesque neighbourhood. It is also home to many of Thessaloniki’s paleo-Christian and Byzantine churches listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, such as the 5th-century Church of Osios David or the 14th-century Vlatadon Monastery, with its peaceful gardens.

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In the Upper Town stands the church of the Archangels, dedicated to Michael and Gabriel | © eFesenko / Shutterstock

But Ano Poli is also home to a few Ottoman landmarks, such as the 15th-century Alaca Imaret or the Ataturk Museum, where the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was born.

Don’t hesitate to explore its narrow and meandering streets, stop to look at an old door or take in the view. You will surely be rewarded.