Thessaloniki is an ancient city that has held a big role in the Greek world since Ancient times, to this day Thessaloniki remains one of the richest and most populated cities in all of Greece. The city is home to one of the biggest and most advanced ports in Southeastern Europe and is an entry point for ships from Mediterranean mainly from countries in the Middle East and Africa.
Apart from that Thessaloniki is known for its unique Macedonian culture and regional identity as well as for its popular festivals and celebratory events throughout the year.
We will be discussing all this and more in this travel to the city of Thessaloniki, Greece article.
Population of Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki has a population of over 350,000 people with the surrounding areas of Thessaloniki having a total population of close to 1.3 million people making it the second most populated city in all of Greece after the capital of Athens and also the most populated city in North Greece.
The city of Thessaloniki is located on the Thermaic Gulf which has been a strategically important region for thousands of years.
Also very economically important as it is one of the quickest entries into Europe for traders and also rich in terms of natural resources such as marine life for fishing and as of late beauty spots that are popular with tourists.
Additionally, Thessaloniki although not the capital of the Ancient Greek Macedon empire was still a very important city in the European domain of the nation, with the city being named after the half-sister of Alexander the Great, Thessalonike.
Notable People Born in Thessaloniki.
One of the best-known Thessalonians is Demetrius of Thessaloniki who is a Christian martyr who was locked up for life in what is now modern-day Serbia in the city of Sirmium for preaching Christianism by the Roman Emperor Galerius.
Every year on the 26th of October, a feast is held in honor of Demetrius of Thessaloniki where people that live and have roots to the city of Thessaloniki as well as Greek Orthodox Christians in the Greek Diaspora and Greece.
Apart from that you also have Saints Cyril and Methodius who are Byzantium priests that founded the Cyrillic script in the Bulgarian Empire which is now used by many languages around the world such as Bulgarian, Russian, Croatian, Serbian, and Ukrainian. Modern famous figures from Thessaloniki include boxer Salamo Arouch, footballer Traianos Dellas and also actress Zoe Laskari.
History of Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki was originally founded by Cassander of Macedon who was Greek king that historians believe was born in Pella, the capital of Ancient Macedonia that is located near Thessaloniki but a bit more inland. Cassander was the husband of the half-sister of Alexander the Great, Thessalonike which Cassander name the city after with Cassander also founding a separate city name after himself called Cassandreia.
The city of Thessaloniki has always played a key role in the region, for example when the Hellenic Kingdom of Macedon was conquered by the Roman Empire; Thessaloniki was made the capital of the Roman province of Macedon.
After that it was the second biggest city in Eastern Roman Empire and later Byzantium with the city continuing to play an important part in the region under the Ottoman rule as the biggest city in the geographic region of Macedonia.
Culture of Thessaloniki.
If you decide to travel to the city of Thessaloniki, Greece you will have the opportunity to experience a very proud and Thessalonikian culture is heavily shaped by the long and rich Greek history.
Also the Greek Orthodox religion, however, it is strongly shaped by the many empires and nations that controlled it such as the Persians, Romans, Venetians, Bulgarians, Serbs, Ottomans and also the large immigration of Jews mainly from the Iberian Peninsula after the Spanish exiled all non-Christians from their kingdom.
People who are from Thessaloniki are very proud of their historical connections to the Hellenic Macedon Empire, and you will see throughout the city imagery connected to the ancient kingdom such as the Vergina Sun that was a popular Ancient Greek symbol used between the 6th and 2nd centuries B.C.
Today Thessaloniki is also is a cultural hub in its own right, with 250,000 people yearly attending the Thessaloniki International Fair which helps to promote international ties in terms of culture and also business.
Climate of Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki has a hum subtropical climate that is a mix between the naturally dry and rocky geography of northern Greece and also Mediterranean Sea that Thessaloniki is situated on.
The average temperature throughout the year is 15.3 degrees Celsius, with the warmest months being June, July, and August where the average temperature is between 23 and 26 degrees Celsius while the coldest months are December, January, and February where the average temperature is between 5.3 and 6.7 degrees Celsius. While the humidity is bearable with average yearly humidity of 67%.
It does snow nearly every year in Thessaloniki during the winter and sometimes the spring months however the snow rarely settles due to the temperature rarely being low enough. However, during the winter months, you do have to look out for strong winds that can exacerbate the winter.
The Unique Architecture of Thessaloniki.
If you are interested in architecture and you are visiting the city of Thessaloniki then the first place you should visit is the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki which is the home of architectural wonders of Thessaloniki from all of the key eras that the city was home to.
Other architectural marvels include the White Tower of Thessaloniki which is Byzantium fortification used to protect the city’s coastal boundaries from invaders.
You also have The Greek Agora and Roman Forum which was an Ancient Greek public space that was converted by the Romans after they annexed the city of Thessaloniki. It is a perfect example of preserved Ancient Greek and Roman architecture.
There are also great examples of modern architecture in the city such as the Aristotelous Square which is the contemporary city center of Thessaloniki that was designed by French architect Ernest Hebrard in 1918.
Festivals and Live Events in Thessaloniki.
Planning to travel to the city of Thessaloniki, Greece will provide you with a lot of opportunities to attend great festivals, exhibitions and live events such as the Thessaloniki International Film Festival which is seen as one of southeastern Europe’s biggest film events for independent filmmakers as well as new filmmakers that want to make a name for themselves and raise awareness of their work.
Moreover, you have the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival which is one of the world’s biggest documentary festivals showcasing the works of Greek and international journalists and filmmakers.
Also the Dimitra Festival which is a religious festival that celebrates the patron saint of the city of Thessaloniki, Saint Demetrius Thessaloniki with people from other religions and beliefs being welcomed to the event.
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