Thessaloniki – Greece

Entrance to the tomb of Philip of Macedonia (click to enlarge)

Mid-January I spent a two days on a business trip to Thessaloniki. As I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, I took the opportunity to go for a short walk to see some of the sights in town. Unfortunately the weather was not very pleasant. Cloud cover and a light drizzle. And all the historic sites were closed, so they could only be viewed from the outside. Nevertheless it was clear that Thessaloniki is a beautiful city with a long history and I should make an effort to return for a proper visit of all the historic sights and museums.

Arch of Roman Emperor Galerius (click to enlarge)Thessaloniki is a city dotted with landmarks as reminders of its long history. In the early 4th century AD Roman Emperor Galerius made the city to be the imperial capital. This lasted until the empire’s division in AD 395. Galerius left a number of monuments. There is the large ruins of the Palace of Galerius, but also the impressive Arch of Galerius which was erected in AD 303 to celebrate a victory over the Persians. It features beautiful sculptures depicting the battle. Then there is also the Rotunda of Galerius which was intended to become his mausoleum but instead was later turned into a Byzantine church and in to a mosque under the Ottoman rule.

Aga Sofia Church (click to enlarge)Thessaloniki is dotted with Byzantine churches. One of the most important ones is the Aga Sofia which dates from the 8th Century. Its heritage of churches also ensured it got listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Beautiful architecture (click to enlarge)The center of the city has plenty of remnants of French style architecture dating back to the early 20th century when the city was reconstructed after the 1917 fire that swept through.

Ossuary of King Philip (click to enlarge)About an hour’s drive from Thessaloniki one should visit the Royal Thombs of King Philip of Macedonia in Vergina. It’s listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The King was assassinated during the wedding of his daughter Cleopatra. The huge burial mound with the tombs inside has been turned into an exquisite museum showing the 4 tombs inside along with items that were found inside the tombs, each beautifully displayed in a show cases that let you see the items really up close, almost to the touch. The surrounding area also shows the ruins of the palace complex and the old capital. Unfortunately I only had time to visit the tombs.

Last Updated: 04-02-2015

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