The area near the sea is the city center of modern Thessaloniki. There are plenty of interesting things to find, including ancient ruins, Byzantine churches, post-Byzantine churches, and Ottoman buildings, but this post will focus on a few of the other places to visit.
The most obvious place to start is to walk on the seaside promenade along Leoforos Nikis. This avenue runs from Plateia Eleftherias south to Lefkos Pyrgos. Along it are several cafés, bars, and restaurants.
The main square of Thessaloniki is Plateia Aristotelous. It’s a wide open area flanked by regal buildings with many with outdoor cafes on the ground level. The square was designed by French architect Ernest Hébrard after a terrible fire in 1917 that leveled a significant portion of the city, but wasn’t constructed until the 1950s. It’s especially nice around Christmas time.
A pedestrian street called Aristotelous leads away from the square and is lined with more regal buildings. It ends at Egnatia.
Across Egnatia from Aristotelous is Plateia Dikastirion, where it’s possible to find the Roman Forum, a Byzantine church, and an Ottoman hamam. There’s also a statue dedicated to Eleftherios Venizelos, an important Greek leader in the early 20th century.
Crossing Aristotelous a block from Plateia Aristotelous is Odos Tsimiski. This tree-lined street is one of the busiest in Thessaloniki and features several high-end shops.
Another important square Plateia Agias Sofias. The Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia is located there along with the Longos Mansion (The Red House) and a statue of Chrysostomos of Smyrna. The Longos Manson was built in 1926 for a textile baron from Naousa and is said to be cursed. Chrysostomos was the bishop of Smyrna and was murdered by a mob when the city was sacked by Turkish forces in 1922.
There are a lot of monuments and statues scattered throughout Thessaloniki, but one of my favorites is at Plateia Fanarioton. It depicts a Cretan warrior.
A great experience is to visit the markets of Thessaloniki, which date back to the 12th century. Kapani, or Agora Vlali, is the traditional market where several different goods can be found including clothing, jewelry, souvenirs, and religious goods. It covers a huge area between the streets of Egnatia, Ermou, Venizelou, and Aristotelous.
Agora Vatikioti is where meat, fish, and produce can be found. The main strip of the market is down a covered Odos Vatikioti. It’s located on the other side of Aristotelous from Kapani.
On my three trips to the city, I decided to focus on the archaeological sites, churches, and Ottoman monuments, but there are several museums of note. Among them are the Museum for the Macedonian Struggle, the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki, the Museum of Byzantine Culture, and the Archaeological Museum. I would like to visit all of them on a future trip.