Last weekend Mr. and I had the pleasure of going on a kid-free trip to Greece! (We did a child swap with some friends of ours.) Before we moved to Germany Greece was definitely high on our ‘must visit’ list, but as time has rolled on by we just weren’t sure we would be able to make it happen. Thankfully, we found some really cheap airline tickets and all our dreams came true!
Thessaloniki definitely isn’t a stereotypical Greek town. In fact, it has only been officially part of Greece for about a century or so. In the past it was part of the Byzantine Empire as well as the Roman Empire. It has really just been a place involved in a lot of struggle and changing of powers. However, the people there definitely view themselves as Greek and so there are a lot of influences of Greek culture as well. On the positive side, there is just SO much history in one city! It was so fun to explore!
We did and visited SO many places while we were there. I could seriously write for days about it! (And this may be a VERY long post… hope you have a snack handy!) So I am going to just do a high light or two from the various places we visited and attach a link to each place’s album where you can see more pictures from that place if you wish. Ready, set, go!
The White Tower.
View from the top of The White Tower out towards the promenade we walked every morning to get to the main city from our hotel.
The White Tower is one of the main attractions in Thessaloniki. It was believe to be built during the Ottoman Empire sometimes around 1530. However, it is also believed to have been built on some other sort of building that had been built there during the Byzantine Empire and would have been part of the Byzantine wall. From the top of old town (more on that later) you can look down and see the Byzantine wall head straight towards this tower. More Pictures of White Tower.
The Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki was one of my favorite Museums we visited. They had things there that dated back to as early as 500 B.C. It was amazing.
A lot of what was at this Museum was stuff from the Roman period. This is Mr. with a mosaic floor from a Roman Villa.
There was also a lot at this Museum that reflected the more Greek ties in Thessaloniki. For instance, there were a lot of old statues that were depicting Greek gods. They had a whole section devoted the the gold of Macedonia. This is one of the golden head wreaths.
More Pictures from the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki.
Monument of Alexander the Great.
Alexander the Great is an important figure in Thessaloniki. When the city was founded in 315 B.C. it was done so by King Cassander who was married to Alexander the Great’s half sister. The city is actually named after her as well. More pictures from the Alexander the Great Monument.
The Byzantine Wall is still pretty in tact through out the city. About a block away from our hotel there was this piece of it. We had know idea what it was at first, but once we found out it was pretty neat!
More Byzantine Wall Pictures.
One of our favorite things to do was to take advantage of the free Harbor Cruise! It was about a thirty minute boat ride that you could ride free of charge. They just expect you to buy a drink on board (either alcoholic or non alcoholic). It was a great way to cool off and relax on those hot, Greek afternoons!
View of White Tower and one of the other boats.
View of Thessaloniki from the water. So pretty!
More Pictures from the Harbor Cruise.
Another thing we did A LOT of was walking the promenade along the water. We actually walked it in its entirety! I think it is about 4 miles long… each way!
Beautiful view from the promenade!
More pictures from the Promenade.
We obviously HAD to eat while we were in Greece! We enjoyed so really great food! So many of the restaurants we visited had really great views, too!
One night we had a ‘grown up’ dinner and shared a sampler platter of local cheese and sausages. It was so yummy!
This was hands down our favorite thing we ate. It was a slice of feta (THE best feta in the world) that had been slightly fried and was topped with honey and sesame seeds. Amazing. I know it sounds weird, but it was seriously the best thing I think I’ve ever tasted in my life.
More pictures of our Eating Fun!
Agious Georgious Rotunda Church in Thessaloniki.
Unfortunately much of the church was covered in scaffolding, but it was still so amazing!
The mosaics were so beautiful!
This church was originally built by Emperor Galerius of the Roman Empire around 300 AD. It originally was not a church, but a Roman Mausoleum — or tomb. A couple hundred years later it became a Christian church. During the Ottoman Empire it was converted into a Mosque. The mosaics of the church were down during the Byzantine Empire and reflects the Hellenistic style. More Pictures of the Rotunda Church.
The garden in Agios Pavlos.
We visited the Pasha gardens in Agios Pavlos (which literally translates to Apostle Paul) in Thessaloniki which is one of the spots where Paul apparently taught the young Christian Church in this city. From this Garden you can see the church that also bears his name in this area which I will share later. The structures shown don’t quite date back that late in time, though. They only date back about a century.
More pictures from Agios Pavlos Garden.
The Arch of Galerius.
The Arch of Galerius was constructed by Emperor Galerius of the Roman Empire around 300 AD. It was built in conjunction (and near by) the Rotunda Church that I shared above.
More Pictures of The Arch of Galerius.
This is Bey Hammam. It is a bath house that was built in the mid 1400’s by the sultan of the Ottoman Empire when they occupied Thessaloniki.
We also visited the Byzantine Museum while in Thessaloniki and we enjoyed it a lot as well! It covers the era following the Roman Empire being in Thessaloniki so it was a nice follow up to the Archeological Museum which we visited first. A lot of this museum reflected the early days of the Christian church in Thessaloniki which was really interesting!
More Pictures from the Byzantine Culture Museum.
The Church of Agia Sofia is the largest Byzantine era church in Thessaloniki. It dates back to around 700 AD.
More pictures of Agia Sofia.
The Church of Metamorforsis Sotiros Thessaloniki, Greece. It is another Byzantine era church that was built around 1300.
More pictures of the Church of Metamorforsis Sotiros.
The Church of St. Demetrious.
Down in the crypt at St. Demetrious Church.
St. Demetrious Church is another Byzantine church. Originally on this spot was a Roman bath and the first church was built here, to replace the bath, around 300 AD. Over the next 400 years it was expanded and reached it’s current size in the 700’s. The crypt of St. Demetrious is significant because it is believed to be where St. Demetrious was held (when it was a Roman bath) and later martyred.
More Picture of St. Demetrious Church and crypt.
Fountain Square Monument!
Up at the top of Thessaloniki in the old city!
Beautiful views from the top!
Trigonig Tower and part of the Byzantine Wall up in Old City.
More Pictures from Old Town.
Palace of Galerius ruins.
More Pictures of the Palace of Galerius.
Roman Agora ruins! This was where the main part of the city and all the important things would have been happening during the Roman era. Apostle Paul had petitioned to preach here and was denied.
More Pictures from the Roman Agora.
While at the Roman Agora remains we also visited the museum there. It was kind of fun because the day before we had visited the archeological museum, then we visited here, and then the Byzantine museum. It was interesting to see it all go in chronological order.
More Pictures from the Roman Agora Museum.
St. Paul Orthodox Church.
St. Constantine and Helen Orthodox Church.
St. Gregory Palmas Orthodox Church. I think this definitely has become one of my favorite churches we’ve visited!
… and this is why! Beautiful paintings covered every inch!
More Pictures from St. Gregory Palmas Orthodox Church.
It was so nice to get away and enjoy Greece together! And the weather was absolutely perfect, too, which didn’t hurt! I am so glad we finally got there! What an adventure!