THE METROPOLIS OF MACEDONIA
When king Cassander of Macedonia founded Thessaloniki in 315 B.C, on the site of the Ancient Greek town of Therme, joining 26 townships at the head of the gulf bearing the same name, he named the city after his wife, the half-sister of Alexander the Great. The city subsequently gained rhe reputation of being "Mother of all Macedonia", a commercial centre possessing connections with all the ports of the East, its own coinage and a cultural development equal to that of the other Greek cities.
A "Free City" during the Roman era, linked to the East and the West by the Via Egnatia(l30 B.C.) it preserved the Greek language and its ethnic integrity, developing into the most populous city in Macedonia with the most important monuments, which continue to adorn it.
In Thessaloniki in 50 A.D. the Apostle Paul founded the second Christian church on the European continent and sent it his "Epistles to the Thessalonians".
Joint capital of the Byzantine Empire and cradle of the Christian faith and Greek culture, Thessaloniki was the "eye of Europe and particularly of Greece". Thessaloniki still preserves outstanding monuments which are characteristic of Byzantine art from the 5th until the 14th century A.D. The artistic, intellectual and religious innuences it exerted contributed decisively to the development of the Balkan peoples, who were converted to the Christian faith by the Thessalonian theologians Cyril and Methodius (863) A.D.)
The cult of Saint Demetrius, the city's patron saint, spread all over the Balkans.
During the long period of Turkish rule (1430-1912) and despite the terrible acts of destruction it suffered, Thessaloniki retained its moral and ethnic strength, which the city had inherited from its age-old culture, and after constant struggles and sacrifices succeeded in regaining its freedom.
The capital of Macedonia, and a commercial, industrial and spiritual centre of international importance, the modem city of Thessaloniki can satisfy the demands of any visitor.
One can get on overall picture of the history of Macedonia, and more particularly of Thessaloniki, by visiting the Archaeological Museum; the largest in Macedonia. It has existed in its present form since 1961, and its galleries are continuously being enriched with finds dating from prehistoric times up to the early Christian era. The Derveni, Sindos and Vergina galleries, with their exhibits of unrivalled artistry and importance are famous throughout the world.The Ethnological and Folk Art Museum, which was established in 1931 and has been running since 1947, as well as the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, enable the visitor to get to know the art and history of recent times, the traditional architecture which Greek artisans spread all over the Balkans, and the evidence of the glorious struggles which were waged for the liberation of Macedonia.
A tour of the city will also give the tourist a comprehensive picture of the city's historic past. One should start at the Ramparrsl which in their present form extend over 3 kilometres and include 6 towers. the main one of which is the White Tower - the symhol of Thessaloniki. Then one should make one's way to the Galerius complex, which dates back to the 4th century A.L). with the triumphal arch, the palace and the Rotunda, then to the Ancient Roman Agora and the Odeion, and finally to the churches, magnificent evamples of early Chrisrian and Rvlantine art.
The city of Thessaloniki today, possessing as it does the second largest and most important port in Greece, the International Fair - which attracts commercial interest from all over the world- and the largest university in the country, and offering cultural events, rheatres, Modern Art galleries, libraries, some of the most exclusive spores in Greece, an immense variety of high standard recreational facilities and examples of modern architecture, art nouveau and eclecticism, offers the visitor an exciting experience.