Thessaloniki is Greece’s Hippest City! It has some of the most beautiful beaches and has some of the finest hotels and best restaurants in northern Greece. 

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The region is called Central Macedonia, claiming the right to posess the FYR of Macedonia (calling it just the Northern Macedonian region) as it use to be entire ly greek region and not recognizing it today as a state.

Following this, upon my arrival, I noticed the title ‘macedonian’ on every institution,  building, statue, bus, etc liaising it with the greek flag. For example, the central station!

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Obligatory inscriptions and names of all stations, cafes and restaurants with the name Macedonia

One of the main disputes is the historical figure is  Alexandar the Great also known as Alexander III of Macedon, but the name is less used for the political correctness of the both countries. Alexander was s born in Pella in 356 BC. As for years ruling on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world by the age of thirty, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history’s most successful military commanders.

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Statue of Alexander the Great, 4th century BCE

Pella today, is just the archeological site of the ancient greek city being a huge port and trade center before Thessaloniki erosed. It was occupied by the Romans and re-discovered in 19th century again by the group of scientists  searching for the birth place of Alexander the Great based on the descriptions provided by Titus Livius (roman historian).

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Pella – archeological site, the birthplace of Alexander the Great

Thesalonikki is one of my places I felt great energy but in the same time felt the city is a bit dirty. Could be because of so many graffiti’s left from the Greek crisis that time just a few months ago. Anyhow, the city is full of gypsy children begging for the money. As I was approached by a 3 years old cute ragamuffin, I realised he speaks serbian and that I can understand him as a croatian girl. I saw him and his brother were playing mini accoardian. So I told them to sing me a song, which they did and of course asked the money. I gave them a coin of 2 EUR thinking they ill split it, but actually do oldest brother took and ran away, left the younger one crying. Damn!

What now? I had only banknotes so I told him to follow me to the bakery that was just opposite of us in order to buy him a nice pastry. – No! He wants money.

Usually, I wouldn’t do it, but as I gave unpurposley the coin to his older tricky and astute brother, I didn’t want the younger one to feel like he did not deserve. Even more he was playing the accordian and every work should be payed in the market, right?

Right, he got 5 eur banknote from me.

Never, ever.

But I caught him later enjoying his childhood. I hope he is not forced to beg in the street. I really do.

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My little gypsy ragamuffin ❤

The streets of Thesalonikki are full of different bars and everything is so vivid. The main street leads to the Aristotelous square which is actually at the sea side.

From there, the wide streets will take you to Rotunda – the seat of Roman Emperor Gayus Augustus built in 3rd century. The Rotunda is an impressively stout building which has been a Roman temple, a Christian house of worship and a mosque in its time, as well as surviving several earthquakes with its beautiful mosaics and 30m-high dome intact.

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Rotunda – the seat of the roman emperors

The next attraction I visited was the Little Haga Sofia. The church from 8th based on the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey).  In 1205, when the Fourth Crusade captured the city, the Hagia Sophia was converted into the cathedral of Thessaloniki, which it remained after the city was returned to the Byzantine Empire in 1246. After the capture of Thessaloniki by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II in 1430, the church was converted into a mosque.  It was reconverted to a church upon the liberation of Thessaloniki in 1912 in the Balkan Wars about which I will speak later here.

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Haga Sophia, church from 8th century
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Inner frescoes of the Haga Sophia

The city is surrounded by the walls dating from 4th century and upgraded during the Middle Ages and until the late 19th century, when 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 main and most famous remained part is the White Tower.

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The White Tower of Thesalonikki

Then of course, whart is the city without the market? I scrolled down the two most famous: Modiano and Kapani markets. 

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Modiano market

The most beautiful part with many bars and restauurants, walking andd cycling paths and entire line of massive hotels with beautiful balconies is when you slide down to the Thermaic Gulf of the Aegean sea. When the sky is clear the enormous Mount Olympus, home of the ancient Greek gods, can be seen. Also, there are beautiful sandy beaches below.

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Aegean sea and the Olympus Mountain

I have visited the Museum of Balkan wars in Chalkidona, as well. The villa was used as a headquarters during the wars.  All the furniture in the museum is authentic and has been supplemented by furniture which the army had previously kept in storage.

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Museum of the Balkan wars

The exhibits consist of photographs, military uniforms and decorations awarded by the Greek, Turkish, and Bulgarian armies (a display of medals) of the wars of 1912-13. Particularly important military decoration is an extremely rare Bulgarian medal depicting the heads of the four kings of the Balkan states, symbolising the short-lived alliance against the Ottoman Empire.

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Museum collection of medals, litography and guns

 

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