Thessaloniki : Rotunda, White Tower and Aristotle Square
From Meteora, you can go to Thessaloniki by train, for 16,10 euros. It will take a bit more than 4 hours, depending the delay you will get at Paleo Farsalos, a station in the middle of nowhere, where you’ll have to catch another train.
Thessaloniki owes its name to the half-sister of Alexander the Great, who was married to one of his General Cassandros, and the reason why I’m copying this from Wikipedia is to try to express how old this city is and how much it has seen during its long history, but the best way is to quote this excellent article from the GUARDIAN : But then there is Salonica, Selanik, Solun and Salonika, the New Jerusalem, the city that was once a candidate to be the capital of a Jewish Promised Land, the second city of the Byzantine empire and later of the vast Ottoman emirate when it was up there with the Ming as the most dominant, dynamic dynasty on earth. This is the city that is the real capital of the Balkans, its missing heart, the lodestar of a whole swathe of the eastern Mediterranean, from the Adriatic to Alexandria.
First of all, as in Athens, the most impressive remains of Antiquity have been left by the Romans, and the main one is the Rotunda. It was built by the Emperor Galerius when he ruled his part of the fractured Empire from this city and later served as a church :
The Rotunda has been damaged by earthquakes but some mosaics have been preserved :
Directly in front of the Rotunda is the Galerius Arch, which commemorated his victories against the Persians :
And then when you continue straight on in Gounari street, you stumble upon the ruins of the Palace of Galerius :
Keep going to the see and turn left and you’ll find the Tower that is for Thessaloniki what the Eiffel Tower is for Paris : its symbol. It’s on the top left hand corner of the picture.
The White Tower, as it is known, guarded the city walls, and later on it became a prison, and is now the point where the demonstrations against the political and economical crisis in Greece focalize their troops, just like on Syntagma Square in Athens.
For 3 euros, you can get inside and there is a very complete exposition on its levels about the history of the city. And of course, you have a great view from the top :
Go on on this big street along the street and you will end up at one moment on the Aristotle Square, the main square of the city. It was built in the 1920s after the great fire which destroyed a big part of the city in 1917, and tried to create a kind of architecture which would, i think, be a testimony of the cultural melting-pot of the city :
End of Part I