Thessaloniki : The Capital of Macedonia and Greek’s Cultural Capital, Thanks to a Vibrant Cultural Lifestyle

Thessaloniki : The Capital of Macedonia and Greek’s Cultural Capital, Thanks to a Vibrant Cultural Lifestyle

The second largest city in Greece, Thessaloniki, is located next to the Mediterranean Sea. A city as old as 315 BC, it has a rich history which is etched on most of its landmarks and layout. Thessaloniki also has great sea views, splendid local cuisine, and urban beauty. Below are a tour and sightseeing spots in the city:

table of contents

[x] close

Thessaloniki : The Capital of Macedonia and Greek’s Cultural Capital, Thanks to a Vibrant Cultural Lifestyle

1. Archaeological Museum

Photo by Tilemahos Efthimiadis

Thessaloniki city is a trove of archaeological findings. The museum found in the heart of the city is home to prehistoric and historic findings of Hellenic and Macedonian origins. Themed exhibitions are also on display in this museum. The findings are arranged chronologically, in each of the floors: from the Christian period and turning the clocks back to the prehistoric times. Some of the prehistoric findings here are Neolithic bronze knives, farm implements, and pottery. Remarkable and must-see findings are the ornamental Derveni Krater and the Hellenistic tin and bronze vase that held brews at funerals.

2. Church of Agios Dimitrios

Thessaloniki city has a rich historical background. Among the living proof of the latter, is the fifth-century sanctum that is also home to relics of its saints. The relics are kept mint in stone coffins in front of decorated altar screens. The church is also highly decorated. The multicolored marble pillars have capitals finely sculpted out on them. The apse has an eye-catching chandelier with mosaic pillars around the central aisle. The beauty of the ancient church as well as the artifacts preserved here make it a good place for sightseeing history enthusiasts.

3. Arch of Galerius and Rotunda

Photo by Dmitry V. Petrenko/

In what seems to have been the city’s main entry point ages ago are these two landmarks. The arch of Galerius has a marble outlook that is greatly decorated with vivid carvings alternated with flower wreaths. The carvings show probably scenes from the Armenian, Persian, and Mesopotamian conquest by Galerius. The Rotunda is a stout structure that’s seen various transformations: from a mosque to a church and a temple. It is decorated with arched ceilings with mosaics of fascinating angel figures with golden background. A sculpture museum also adds to the itinerary for evocative characters, catering for sightseeing pleasure as well.

4. White Tower

The white tower is accessible by foot and found on Promenade Seafront. The tower is a Turkish structure built to surveil and defend the city’s seaward side. Its top is at a great height forming a good sightseeing platform of the harbor and the neighboring sea waters. The white tower is also the permanent location of the Byzantine Culture Museum. Artifacts in the museum include worship paraphernalia, coins, glassware, vases, tomb paintings, and jewelry. The tower is a good way to turn back the clock and feel how ancient citadel roles were executed.

5. Aristotelous Square

This is the city’s main square. It is lined with a variety of shops and restaurants, each giving a connoisseur a dilemma due to the fine quality here. The square also forms a good sightseeing spot and a good place to pass time. Walks are meant to put one in touch with ancient Thessaloniki with a modern touch. The great finger and a monument of the famous Aristotle are also found here. The sunset view from the square is also a sight to behold and light up the mood thanks to the beautiful silhouettes the buildings and monuments form on the incoming dark times.

6. Church of Holy Apostles

Photo by Lefteris Papaulakis/

Ancient architectural pieces exude creativity. The Agii Apostoli ground plan is a crucifix. It is made up of five domes having embellished brickwork. The main dome towers over the ceiling roofing of a cross and the remaining domes on the corners of the walkways. A cistern of the church’s monastery is found on the northern side of the church. The décor of the church is finely beautiful plaster paintings and mosaics from the early Tertiary periods. The church also has Muslim and Ottoman designs in its interior, as it was once a mosque.

7. Villa Allatini

The Villa Allatini is found in the midst of mansions and villas, pointing to the city’s elite residential areas back in the days, during the nineteenth century. The houses here were mainly designed in neoclassical and Italian styles. The gardens in the Allatini are a good sightseeing zone and deserving of a picture moment. The villa is currently the chief administrative offices of the city. The building is more than spacious, considering that it once was the college building of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki city.

8. Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki

Photo by

The Jewish are a resilient people. Having been through a lot of tribulations in European history, they still reprise success. The city’s Jewish museum documents the Jewish history in Europe over a period longer than two millenniums. It is also a good place to crash course on the Jewish culture, history, and life. The two-floor museum also has dedicated rooms with the information on both world wars. The infamous Nazi deportation and the freeing of the Jews from concentration, and deportation camps are also featured. The museum forms a good evocative experience even for the non-enthusiasts offering knowledge about the city.

9. Monastery of Vlatadon

Adding to the list of the many sightseeing platforms of the city is the Vlatadon Monastery. The mid-fourteenth century structure features some rare architectural styles. The plaster paintwork on the frescoes is of Byzantine descent. The building itself was a brainchild of the Palaiologos dynasty. Housed here are golden bulls, sigilliums of family heads, Biblical manuscripts, and Turkish firmans. The monastery is also a habitat for some exotic and rare bird species, adding to its ambiance of rare ethereal experience. Sculptures and souvenirs in the form of religious icons are sold at the entrance of the building.

10. Botanica Garden of Stavroupoli

A botanical garden in Thessaloniki city is as rare as a unicorn. This garden is one of the few available. It is open every weekday, between 9 in the morning to an hour past noon. Throughout the weekend, it remains closed. The garden is a place boasting of serenity and thriving greenery, flora’s default color. The garden also has a variety of specialty gardens such as the rose garden(having 300 different rose flower species), the Mediterranean garden, and the Japanese garden. The flower gardens are beautiful and worth sightseeing. They are further made beautiful by the topiary skills applied to them.

◎ Closing

Thessaloniki is indeed a cultural city. The city is rich in historical monuments and artifacts, a guaranteed time machine to prehistoric and ancient Europe. Despite being in the modernized European continent, it adheres to its roots on various aspects. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, it is a good place for sightseeing and holidays on coastal areas.