Top Historic Sights in Thessaloniki, Greece

Explore the historic highlights of Thessaloniki

White Tower of Thessaloniki

The White Tower is a monument and museum on the waterfront of the city of Thessaloniki. The present tower replaced an old Byzantine fortification, known to have been mentioned around the 12th century, that the Ottoman Empire reconstructed to fortify the city"s harbour sometime after Sultan Murad II captured Thessaloniki in 1430. The tower became a notorious prison and scene of mass executions during the period of Ott ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki

The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki is one of the largest museums in Greece and the central museum of northern Greece. It holds and interprets artifacts from the Prehistoric, Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic and Roman periods, mostly from the city of Thessaloniki but also from the region of Macedonia in general. The museum is housed in a building designed by architect Patroklos Karantinos and is an examp ...
Founded: 1912 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Saint Panteleimon

The Church of Saint Panteleimon is a late Byzantine church in Thessaloniki and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church lies in the eastern part of the old city, near the Tomb of Galerius, at the junction of Iasonidou and Arrianou streets. Its current dedication to Saint Panteleimon was given to the church after the end of Ottoman rule in 1912, and its original dedication is therefore disputed. In Ottoman times, it was c ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Arch of Galerius and Rotunda

The Arch of Galerius and the Rotunda are neighbouring early 4th-century AD monuments in Thessaloniki. The 4th-century Roman emperor Galerius commissioned these two structures as elements of an imperial precinct linked to his Thessaloniki palace. Archeologists have found substantial remains of the palace to the southwest. These three monumental structures were connected by a road that ran through the arch, which rose abov ...
Founded: 298-306 AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagios Demetrios

The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988. The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced ...
Founded: 629-634 AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of the Saviour

The Church of the Savior is one of the 15 Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki that were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988. Archaeological investigation and restoration work following the 1978 earthquakes, in which the church was badly damaged, have brought to light new evidence that has led to a radical review of our knowledge of the structure. The original position of the holy altar h ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Panagia Chalkeon

According to the founder's inscription above the west entrance, the The Church of Panagia Chalkeon was built in 1028 by the protospatharios Christopher, katepano of Longobardia, and his wife, son, and two daughters. The ground plan is that of a classic 'cross-in-square-form' typical of Macedonian-period architecture, with four columns and three domes, one central and two over the narthex. The entire building is built ...
Founded: 1028 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Bey Hamam

Bey Hamam, alternatively known as the 'Baths of Paradise', is a Turkish bathhouse in Thessaloniki. Built in 1444 by sultan Murad II, it was the first Ottoman bath in Thessaloniki and the most important one still standing throughout Greece. For this reason, it is a part of those few important vestiges of Ottoman culture remaining in Thessaloniki and Greece in general. It is a double bath, with two separat ...
Founded: 1444 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Museum of Byzantine Culture

The Museum of Byzantine Culture was opened in 1994. It was established with the aim of creating a centre in which aspects of Byzantine culture surviving in Macedonia in general and Thessaloniki in particular may be kept, researched, and studied. The museum has collections of sculpture, frescoes, mosaics, icons, and inscriptions from the Byzantine period. It has permanent exhibitions, rooms for temporary thematic exhibiti ...
Founded: 1994 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia in Thessaloniki is one of the oldest churches in the city still standing today. It is one of several monuments in Thessaloniki included as a World Heritage Site on the UNESCO list. Since the 3rd century, there was a church in the location of the current Hagia Sophia. In the 8th century, the present structure was erected, based on the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). In 1205, ...
Founded: 8th century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Yahudi Hamam

The Yahudi Hamam is an Ottoman-era bath in Thessaloniki. Located at the intersection of Vasileos Irakleiou and Frangini streets, the bath dates to the 16th century. Its name means 'Bath of the Jews', as the area was predominantly settled by Sephardi Jews. It was also named Pazar Hamam, due to its location in the central market-place of the city.
Founded: 16th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Roman Forum

The Roman Forum of Thessaloniki is the ancient Roman-era forum of the city, located at the upper side of Aristotelous Square. It is a large two-terraced forum featuring two-storey stoas, dug up by accident in the 1960s. The forum complex also boasts two Roman baths, one of which has been excavated while the other is buried underneath the city, and a small theater which was also used for gladiatorial games. Although the in ...
Founded: 2nd century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Government House

The Konak (also known as the Government House) is an Ottoman-era building in central Thessaloniki. Originally built in 1891 as the residence (konak) of the governor-general (vali) of the Salonica Vilayet and the seat of the Ottoman authorities, it now houses the Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace. The Konak was built in 1891 by Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli. The architect chose eclecticism as the main style for th ...
Founded: 1891 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki

The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki presents the history of Sephardic Jews and Jewish life in the city. The collection of the museum was based on the documents, ritual objects, and photographic collections as well as the library that used to be housed at Vasileos Herakleiou 26. The building was built in 1904 by the Italian architect, Vitaliano Poselli. On the ground level are monumental stones and inscriptions that were o ...
Founded: 2001 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Heptapyrgion

The Heptapyrgion, also popularly known by its Ottoman Turkish name Yedi Kule, is a Byzantine and Ottoman-era fortress situated on the north-eastern corner of the Acropolis of Thessaloniki in Greece. Despite its name, which in both languages means 'Fortress of Seven Towers', it features ten, and was probably named after the Yedikule Fortress in Constantinople (modern Istanbul, Turkey). Although the urban core of ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Vlatades Monastery

Vlatades Monastery was founded by the brothers Dorotheus and Markus Vlatadon, who were students of Gregory Palamas, in the latter half of the fourteenth century. It was first mention in a letter by Patriarch Matthew dated in 1400 to Metropolitan Gabriel of Thessalonica. In 1387, Thessalonica and the monastery were occupied for the first time by the Ottoman Turks. While the monastic community held together, the monaster ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Monastir Synagogue

The construction of the Monastir Synagogue lasted from 1925 till 1927. The funding was due to Jews from Monastir in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, chiefly by Ida Aroesti, in the memory of her late husband Isaac, and the families Camhi, Joseph Nahmias, Massot, Barouch, Halevi, Israel, Calderon, Faradji, and Meir. The consecration by the locum tenens Chief Rabbi of Thessaloniki, Haim Raphael Habib, took place on the 27th Eloul, ...
Founded: 1925-1927 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Walls of Thessaloniki

The Walls of Thessaloniki are the city walls surrounding the city during the Middle Ages and until the late 19th century. Large parts of the walls, including the entire seaward section, were demolished as part of the Ottoman authorities" restructuring of Thessaloniki"s urban fabric. The city was fortified from its establishment in the late 4th century BC, but the present walls date from the early Byzantine perio ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Alaca Imaret Mosque

Alaca Imaret Mosque or Ishak Pasha Mosque (literally the 'colourful mosque') was built by order of Ishak Pasha in 1484 or 1487. It consists of a mosque with an imaret (public charity kitchen). The mosque and imaret are not in use anymore. The mosque has a reverse T plan common to early Ottoman architecture, the prayer hall is covered by two large domes, it has a portico covered by five smaller domes. It had one ...
Founded: 1484 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of the Acheiropoietos

The Church of the Acheiropoietos is a 5th-century Byzantine church in Thessaloniki. The Acheiropoietos has been dated from its bricks and mosaics to ca. 450–470, making it perhaps the earliest of the city"s surviving churches. It was modified in the 7th and again in the 14th–15th centuries. Known as the Panagia Theotokos in Byzantine times, it is dedicated to Mary. Its current name is first attested in 1320, ...
Founded: 450-470 AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Prophet Elijah

The Church of Prophet Elijah is a 14th-century church in Thessaloniki, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The church is located in the upper quarter of the old city, and dates to the Palaiologan period, but its original dedication is unknown. In Ottoman times, it was known as the Saraylı Mosque (Palace Mosque or Court Mosque), and through a misinterpretation of this name came about its modern dedication to the Pr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Hosios David

The Church of Hosios David is a late 5th-century church in Thessaloniki. In Byzantine times, it functioned as the katholikon of the Latomos Monastery, and received rich mosaic and fresco decoration, which was renewed in the 12th–14th centuries. The surviving examples are of high artistic quality. Under Ottoman rule, the building was converted into a mosque (probably in the 16th century), until it was reconsecrated as a ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos

The Church of Saint Nicholas Orphanos is an early 14th-century Byzantine church in Thessaloniki. The church"s name, 'Saint Nicholas the Orphan', is first attested in the 17th and 18th centuries, and presumably refers to its otherwise unknown ktetor (founder). From its interior decoration, the building is dated to the period 1310–1320. The church originally formed part of a monastery, traces of which (re ...
Founded: 1310-1320 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of the Holy Apostles

The Byzantine church of the Holy Apostles is located at the start of Olympou Street, near the city"s western medieval walls. As evidenced by remnants of a column to the south of the church and a cistern to its northwest, it originally formed part of a larger complex. Consequently, it appears that the church was originally built as the katholikon of a monastery. The date of its construction is not entirely clear: t ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Byzantine Bath

The Byzantine Bath in Thessaloniki is one of the few and best preserved of the Byzantine baths that have survived from the Byzantine period in Greece. The baths date to the late 12th/early 13th century, and functioned continuously until 1940, when they shut down probably due to World War II and the German occupation of Greece. The Byzantine sources do not mention it, hence it is likely that it originally belonged to a mo ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Church of Saint Catherine

The Church of Saint Catherine is a late Byzantine church in the northwestern corner of the Ano Poli, Thessaloniki. The church dates to the Palaiologan period, but its exact dating and original dedication are unknown. From its interior decoration, which survives in fragments and is dated to ca. 1315, it has been suggested that it was the katholikon of the Monastery of the Almighty. It was converted to a mosque by Yakup P ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Yeni Mosque

The Yeni Mosque was built by Italian architect Vitaliano Poselli in 1902 for the city"s Dönmeh community, crypto-Jewish converts to Islam. However, when the Donmeh left the city during the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, it was used to house the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki in 1925. Today it serves as an exhibition center.
Founded: 1902 | Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.