Aug 04

FIVE MOST POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF THESSALONIKI (ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗ)

FIVE MOST POPULAR TOURIST ATTRACTIONS OF THESSALONIKI (ΘΕΣΣΑΛΟΝΙΚΗ)

The second largest city of Greece, Thessaloniki fascinates through its history and vivacious spirit. It is one of the best appreciated party cities in Europe, and it’s known for the flamboyant and glowing nigh life that it offers. There are a lot to say about this amazingly hip city, but let us begin with a top 5 of the most popular tourist attractions and symbols of the place, that visitor should not miss on their visit.

  1. The White Tower

The tall, circular White Tower placed on the beachfront, is the symbol of Thessaloniki, and is loaded with history. Originally it was part of the defense system of the city but after the demolition of most of the city walls, in the late 19th century, it remained by itself. In the Ottoman period it served as prison, being the scene of many executions and tortures, and it gained the “bloody tower” moniker, because the outer walls were filled with the blood of the victims. Fortunately better times have arrived and in order to clear this image, the tower was painted white and renamed as such. The White Tower name was kept until today, when it was turned into a museum that recounts the daily life of Thessaloniki, along the ages.

  1. Saint Dimitrios Church

This impressive church was built on the site of an ancient Roman baths, where legend has it that St. Dimitros was held prisoner and then executed and thrown into a well by Roman soldiers. It is a basilica with five intervals with a single hexagonal ship, known as the ciborium. The main attraction here is a mural mosaic consisting of six panels, depicting St. Dimitrios with the church builders and their children. The church is one of the largest and most important from a historical perspective in the whole city of Thessaloniki.

  1. Rotonda of Galerius

The oldest monument in Thessaloniki, Rotonda, is a huge circular building, which was originally a Roman temple, then a Christian church, then a mosque. Its walls have a thickness greater than 6 meters, and thanks to this detail the edifice has withstood numerous earthquakes that took place in the region of Thessaloniki. This magnificent cylindrical structure was built in the year 306 as part of a large palace, at the orders of the Roman Emperor Galerius, who intended to use it as a mausoleum or temple. During the next 1200 years, until the city fall into the hands of the Ottomans, the construction served as a church and in 1590 it was converted into a mosque. Fortunately, the mosaics that had survived until then were not affected by this change, as the Ottomans hadn’t taken them down, preferring to paint over them. Nowadays, the Rotonda is a museum.

  1. The Arch of Galerius

The Arch of Galerius (or Kamara) is the most distinctive Roman structure of Thessaloniki, and also the most popular tourist attraction, next to the White Tower. The Arch was raised as a triumphal monument in the honor of Emperor Galerius, to celebrate the victorious military campaign against the Persians in the year 298 and defeating their capital, Ctesiphon. In its original version, the Arch had four main pillars and four secondary. Today, only two of the primary and a secondary one have survived but visitors can admire the beauty of the sculptures representing scenes from the battles that occurred during those terrible times.

  1. Nea Paralia

The largest pedestrian area of Thessaloniky, located in the eastern district, is one of the best public projects that have been realized in Greece in the last 20 years. The narrow but very long promenade allwy covers a distance of about 3.5 km from the White Tower to Megaro Mousikis, offering a superb “buffer” zone between the city and the sea. It became the most popular promenade place of Thessaloniki and it also offers fun and leisure opportunities because bars and restaurants are strung along them.

Photo source:

Picture 1: blueairweb.com; Picture 2: enjoythessaloniki.com; Picture 3: ekathimerini.com; Picture 4: travelinmyfootsteps.wordpress.com; Picture 5: flickr.com; Picture 6: 188.164.203.167/greekorama; Picture7: youtube.com
May 09

Thessaloniki – The Greek Capital of Fun, Good Style and Nightlife (Θεσσαλονίκη)

Named by Alexander the Great after one of his sisters, the city of Thessaloniki is one of the most visited places in Europe thanks to its elegant architecture, fascinating history and awesome vibe.

http://www.greece.com/

http://www.greece.com/

Thessaloniki, the capital of Northern Macedonia and the 2nd largest city in Greece, is a city of staggering beauty where the ancient blends very well with the new.

They say that one of the shortcomings of the city is the traffic and the lack of parking space, but once you arrive there, the best way to enjoy the experience is walking and discovering every inch and every hidden corner of Thessaloniki.

torhotelgroup.gr

torhotelgroup.gr

The landmark of the city is the White Tower, which now lodges the Museum of Thessaloniki, a place that preserves the once troubled history of this millennial settlement.

If you are uncertain of going around on your own, there are organized group tours that will help you settle a route downtown; this itinerary might last includes the Archaeological Museum, Church of St. Sofia, Saint Demetrious Byzantine Cathedral, the Byzantine Castle, Aristotlous Square (always crowded with tourists) and the Port of Thessaloniki.

europcar.com

europcar.com

You will admire a the statue of Alexander the Great – which matches the grandeur of the character who inspired the sculpture, you can see a play at Aristotelian State Theater – since you find yourself in the homeland of European theatre, which can be spotted close to the Radio House (easy to find as it has a very tall antenna), go and check the local market and indulge yourself with the delicious vegetables, fish, meat, spices and more.

We recommend the Triumphal Arch of Galerius and close after, a visit to the marvelous and great Saint Demetrius Byzantine Cathedral, which holds relics lasting from the dawn of Christianity; the Church of Holy Sofia, where the pious atmosphere is as impressive as its beautifully built interior. There are plenty of benches for rest or prayer and pay attention to your posture when you sit on a chair: try to avoid keeping one leg over the other, as it might be considered offensive.

http://www.enjoythessaloniki.com/

http://www.enjoythessaloniki.com/

The Roman Arenas are well maintained and you will have the feeling that you went back in ancient time.

The Greek people have an admirable respect for their history and past, which they carefully preserve and expose. Here, in Thessaloniki, you can go shopping for the newest luxury accessories while you pass by thousand year old walls and columns, among orange trees filled with oranges!

http://www.thessaloniki.gr/

http://www.thessaloniki.gr/

The Aristotlous Square is absolutely charming with its large opening, elegant buildings and hotels and of course the beautiful view of the Aegean Sea.

And since Thessaloniki is well-known for its crazy and vivid nightlife, take a walk through its Old Center and the Ladadika district, where outdoor bouzouki parties can burst out any moment, inviting you to improve your dance steps and learn new ones on famous syrtaki, zeibekiko or kalamatiano songs.

http://siskata.com/

http://siskata.com/

Since this settlement has been inhabited by numerous civilizations throughout the ages, you will recognize plenty influences from several cultures, such as Byzantine, Ottoman, Jewish, Persian or Roman and once you arrive here, you will enjoy a live history lesson, but don’t imagine you will be thrown back to school, as this lesson is be, by far more alluring, enriching and interesting than anything you may have learned in class.

 

Apr 08

GREECE – THE LAND OF LIGHT AND NEVER-ENDING MYSTERIES

The Olympic Riviera is definitely one of the most inspired choices when it comes to visiting Greece. If you want to have a relaxing holiday with the family, visit historical artifacts and religious sites, or, on the contrary, if you’re looking for vivid nightlife in a modern and cosmopolitan area, you can have it all-in-one – and much, much more – gathered in this amazing region watched over by the mythical gods.

http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/

Statue of Alexander the Great in Thessaloniki http://cgcforum.gpanalysis.com/

Situated in the Northern part of Greece (Continental Greece), in Central Macedonia, the Olympic Riviera lies all along the shore of the Aegean Sea, between the second largest city and most important port of Greece, Thessaloniki, and the worldwide known soft-sanded beaches towards the southern part of the regional unit of Pieria. The capital of Pieria is Katerini, a posh touristic town with numerous elegant cafés, tavernas and shopping spots, only a few minutes away from your accommodation place, if you take the local public transport.

beach

Olympic Riviera https://www.flickr.com/

One can speak endlessly about this ancient land, with millenary history and blending cultural influences, but the most poignant is the eternal mark of Alexander the Great, that can still be noticed, not only in the historical relics, but in people’s way to be: lively, passionate, dignified, self aware – as proud descendants of the illustrious leader.

The perfectly clear blue waters and the wide beaches have gained the European Blue Flag distinction, which marks the high level care for the environment. The most famous touristic resorts are Paralia Katerini, Olympiaki Akti, Leptokarya, Paralia Panteleimonas and Platamonas, but there are many other more quiet and less crowded small villages, where you can enjoy the tranquility of Aegean sunrises and delicious breakfasts prepared by your hospitable host. The low depth of the water is preferred particularly by the families with small children, but you can go on organized diving trips by boat, as well.

It does not matter which one of the above-mentioned resorts you are going to chose, as the distances between your place and the numerous sights that are not to be missed are pretty much the same; therefore, whether you decide to go to Paralia Katerini, or Nei Pori, you will find countless opportunities to go on a one-day trip to the (literally) other-worldly sight of Meteora, the gorgeous Isle of Skiathos, the colorful city of Thessaloniki, all the way “down” to old Athens, or to the beautiful village of Litochoro that will give you the feeling that you’re walking on the set of a Hollywood movie, and, of course, not miss the chance to visit the Mount Olympus National Park and pass across the residency of the Olympian gods. Do not expect them to expose themselves in front of you, but be sure that they are keeping an eye on you, while enjoying their ambrosias.

Leaving the jokes aside, the famous Olympus is made up of three major peaks: the highest is the Mytikas – the Peak of Zeus, the second is the Skolio, the third is Saint Stephen and their imposing presence has been guarding the surroundings since the days of yore.

It is quite difficult to describe any of these places in a few words, or decide which one is closer to your heart, but I suggest Meteora as the first must-see attraction.

The home of Greek Orthodoxy, together with Mount Athos, Meteora allows women to visit (you probably know already that at Athos the presence of women is forbidden). It is part of the U.N.E.S.C.O. Word Heritage and is the realm of the monks who live in monasteries built on high columns of smooth sandstone of a unique geological structure, believed to have been a former bottom of an ocean in unknown times, when Mother Earth was still creating herself. The surreal shape of these “towers” represented the perfect hiding place and protection against conquerors and, at the same time, it seems to bring you closer to the state of serenity and inner peace that devoted believers seek – hence the name Μετέωρα in Greek, meaning the center of the heavens, or suspended in the sky. Hence, the Christian ecclesiastic tradition has been kept undisturbed throughout the centuries between the quiet walls suspended in time and space and blessed by the divinity.

http://wallpapers.brothersoft.com/white-tower-96653.html

The White Tower of Thessaloniki http://wallpapers.brothersoft.com/

The six monasteries that are waiting for you to discover them are: the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoron (also known as the Transfiguration of Jesus), The Holy Monastery of Varlaam, The Holy Monastery of Rousanou – St. Barbara, The Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and The Monastery of the Holy Trinity.

meteora

Meteora https://pixabay.com/

If the describing words for this place are: silence, piousness, tranquility, at the other end of the Olympian experience is Thessaloniki, one of the most vivid cities in the world. It was proudly named by Alexander the Great himself, after one of his sisters, and its historical path throughout the ages is beyond captivating. Guarded over by its emblem – the Thessaloniki Tower -, the city is known as the homeland of music and artists, but it hasn’t always been a fun place to be. As any strategic area, it had been the battlefield of countless conflagrations between the locals and the transient armies that thought they could subdue its untamed spirit. There’s a trace of melancholy in the temperament of its people that you can also sense in the song lyrics and the strains of the music eluding from the rembetika and filling the paved alleys of Ladadika district, late at night.

Ladadika https://www.pinterest.com/pin/417145984207805928/

Ladadika https://www.pinterest.com/

Need I say that the locals are real party animals and their music is so addictive that, when you return home, first thing you will do is attend dance classes, just to keep that feeling vivid?

The Greek people are well known for their proverbial kindness and sociability, features that are also found in the numerous accommodation spots that range from two stars, all the way up to five stars. No matter what your wallet suggests, you will always find the best conditions for a memorable holiday.

So, after you settle in your cozy hotel on the Olympic Riviera, you are one step away from the rest of the adventure!