Stylish and Cultured, Without the Big-City Hassle
August 3 2006
Thessaloniki stretches for seven and a half miles (12 km) along the Thermaikos Kolpos (Thermaic, or warm, Gulf), and is the economic and cultural capital of northern Greece. This energetic city with a population of one million is steeped in history and is today a metropolis marked by a blend of influences and traditions, as well as a youthful vitality.
Thessaloniki is packed with 2,300 years of history: it was first established by the ancient Macedonian dynasty, and numerous surviving ruins, churches and majestic fortress walls attest to the city’s later Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods. Although a devastating fire in 1917 irrevocably changed the city’s layout, the Ano Poli (Upper Town) is still filled with lovely and colorful wood-framed houses clinging to steep and narrow streets.
What the city is most known for among today’s Greeks, however, is its boisterous nightlife and sense of style. Thessaloniki is a dedicated student city and a plethora of eateries, night bars and cafés of all styles and types have sprung up to cater to its chic inhabitants. This center of culture also boasts many museums, cinemas, concerts and special events. Sophisticated shopping and omnipresent Greek sweets also set the city apart.
urther, Thessaloniki is located right between northern Greece’s best beaches: those of Katerini and Leptokaria to the southwest, and the Halkidiki Peninsula just to the southeast. The latter also offers a more sublime sort of getaway- the remote Mt. Athos, which takes up the third “finger” of the peninsula and preserves austere Byzantine monastic traditions. To get the necessary permissions one must start off at church offices in Thessaloniki (note that according to 11th-century legislation males only are permitted on Athos).
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