The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 B.C by the king of Macedonia, Kassandros and was named as such to honor his wife, Thessaloniki.
Thessaloniki was Alexander the Great’s half sister. King Phillip II had Thessaloniki with his fifth wife, Princess of Thessalida, Nikisipoleos.
The city took the name derived from both words – Thessalians and Niki (meaning ‘Victory’). This was to commemorate the victory of the Macedonians and the Thessalians against the tyranny of Feres and their allies, Phocis. Horsemen from Thessali played a significant part in the victory.
Thessaloniki is in the north of Greece and has a population of about 400.000 people. It has its own characteristic dialect and culture.
PEOPLE & CULTURE
Many words are said differently to those used by Athenians. For instance, if you ask for a pita with gyro, they will immediately figure out that you’re not a local. That, to them is a gyro sandwich.
They pronounce the ‘L’ in a very heavy way and tend to speak a bit slower than the ‘agitated’ Athenians; they are generally a very relaxed, warm and hospitable people.
The women are teasingly called, ‘divas’ because of the hours they spend in front of the mirror – preparing to go out even if it’s just a coffee with a friend.
They dress up and follow the fashion trends in a most religious way.
One never gets bored in Thessaloniki; the places to visit are countless with the White Tower on the main beach road being the most famous landmark.
An amazing exhibition which is permanently based within the tower can be visited. It focuses on the city’s founding in 315BC to the present day.
The Ladadika, an area which took its name from when it was the place to go and buy oil and oil by-products during Ottoman occupation, became a red-light district later on. Now, you can find the best taverns and restaurants there.
Enjoy a coffee or drink at one of the many cozy cafes at Aristotelous Square – the main square where people watching can become a passion.
The architecture and the history of these buildings send a thrill down one’s spine … you can feel the past and hear the sounds of the people who once walked the streets, dressed impeccably and greeted each other as their paths crossed.
History has a magical way of coming to life in Thessaloniki.
A visit to Thessaloniki without popping in to one of the bakeries to buy the famous ‘koulouri’ would just not be complete.
It is called, ‘koulouri Thessaloniki’s’ in Athens but just plain ‘koulouri’ in Thessaloniki.
My personal favorite is, ‘trigona’ (triangles); a triangular, cone-shaped pastry filled with a most delicious cream and dipped into syrup. Mouth-watering!!!
VISITING ON BUSINESS
Thessaloniki hosts the International Exhibition every September and hundreds of businesses hire space to showcase their wares or services.
The opening of the fair takes place with the Prime Minister announcing the budget and the financial predictions of the country for the year.
In spring, the Alexander the Great Marathon takes place with the starting point at Pella and finishing point at the White Tower.
The route is spectacular and is something on every runner’s bucket list.
Once you visit Thessaloniki, a drive up to Halkidiki would be a fantastic idea. The beaches are stunning and there is so much to see and do there.