Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-biggest city, has a fascinating past, evident in must-visit historic sites including castles, ruins, churches, towers and ancient baths.
Thessaloniki is the second-biggest city in Greece and its position in the north meant a long and complex history of invasion that led to an abundance of fascinating historical sites. Over the years, it was taken over by many empires such as the Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. The result is a melting pot of architectural styles, from Roman ruins to settle your explorative spirit; to foreboding fortresses overlooking the city, now abandoned. Visit these must-see historic sites dotted throughout the bustling city then spend the evening eating and drinking at Thessaloniki’s famous harbour for the wonderful atmosphere and even better food, just as the Greeks like it.
The arch is the most popular place in the city for locals to meet, which makes for a brilliant history lesson and a buzzing atmosphere. The arch was built by Roman Emperor Galerius to commemorate his military victories against the Persians, depicted in the intricate carvings. It was positioned to lead straight through the city to his palace. Known locally as the Kamara, it sits in the middle of the old town on Egnatia. Relax in its shadow with locals and enjoy its impressive size and unusual structure.
For a history lesson of the bloody kind, check out this abandoned fortress. Its seven towers were originally built by the Byzantines in the 14th century, then rebuilt by the Ottomans in the 15th century. It was converted into a jail in the 19th century and held political prisoners during the German occupation of World War II, as well as during Greece’s military dictatorship. The foreboding castle sits high on the acropolis – a staple of every Greek old town – overlooking the sprawling city.