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Seal of Thessaloniki Location of Thessaloniki in Greece
Prefecture: Thessaloniki (capital)
Province: Thessaloniki (capital)

40.636/40°38'18" N lat.
22.921/22°55'18" E long
Population: (2001)
 - Total
 - Density¹
 - Rank



Thermaic Gulf
20 m (centre)
about 100 m
Postal code: 54x xx
55x xx
Area/distance code: 11-30-2310 (030-2310)-20 thru 79
Municipal code: 2119
Car designation: N (Thessaloniki)
3-letter abbreviation: THE (Thessaloniki) or SKG (Salonika Greece)
Name of inhabitants: Thessalonican or
Salonican sing.
s pl.
Address of administration: 70 Paparigopoulou St
Thessaloniki 546 30
Mayor: Stelios Angeloudis
Local holiday: 26th of October

Thessaloníki or Salonica (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη) is the second-largest city of Greece and is the principal, the largest city, and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia. It is also the capital of the Thessaloniki prefecture and the capital of the EU region (or, synonymously, Greek periphery) of Central Macedonia. The popular Greek name Σαλονίκη gives it its alternate English name—formerly the common name—Salonika or Salonica and the South Slavic Солун Solun, Ladino סלוניקה, and Turkish Selânik. The metropolitan area has a total population of around 1,000,000, and lies in a bay of the Thermaic Gulf at the head of the Chalkidiki Peninsula.


Ancient times

The city was founded around 315 BC by Cassander, the King of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonica, the sister of Alexander the Great. She gained her name from her father, Philip II of Macedon, to commemorate her birth on the day of his gaining a victory (nike) over the Thessalians.

Thessaloniki developed rapidly and as early as the 2nd century BC the first Hellenistic walls were built, forming a large square. It was, as all the other contemporary Greek cities, an autonomous part of the Macedon kingdom, with its own parliament (Εκκλησία του Δήμου) but the king was represented and could interfere in the city's domestic affairs.

The White Tower

Roman times

After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon in 146 BC, Thessaloníki became part of the Roman Empire. It became an important trading centre on the Via Egnatia, a Roman road that connected Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul) with Dyrrhachium (now Durrës in Albania). The city was made the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, kept her privileges but was ruled by a praetor and had a Roman garrison. For a short time in the 1st century BC all the Greek provinces were subsumed to her.

Due to the city's great commercial importance, a spacious harbour was built by the Romans, the famous Burrow Harbour (Σκαπτός Λιμήν) that accommodated the city up to the 18th century but covered later. Remnants of the harbour's docks can be found nowadays under Frangon Street, near the Catholic Church.

Thessaloniki's acropolis, located in the northern hills, was built in 55 BC after Thracian raids in the city's outskirts for security reasons.

It had a sizeable Jewish colony, established during the 1st century AD and was an early centre of Christianity. On his second missionary journey, St Paul preached in the city's synagogue, the chief synagogue of the Jews in that part of Thessaloniki, and laid the foundations of a church. Opposition against him from the Jews drove him from the city, and he fled to Veroia.

Thessaloníki acquired a patron saint, St. Demetrius, in 306 AD. He was the Roman proconsul of Greece under the anti-Christian emperor Maximian and was martyred at a Roman prison, where today lays the Church of St. Demetrius, first built by the Roman sub-prefect of Illiricum, Leontios in 463 AD.

Byzantine era and Middle Ages

When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western segments ruled from Byzantium/Constantinople and Rome respectively, Thessaloníki came under the control of the Byzantine Empire. Its importance was second only to Constantinople itself. After a revolt against the emperor Theodosius I in 390 against his Gothic troops, 7,000 - 15,000 of the citizens were massacred in the city's hippodrome in revenge – an act which earned Theodosius a temporary excommunication.

A quiet and prosperous era follows until repeated barbarian invasions after the fall of the Roman Empire, while a catastrophic earthquake severely damaged the city in 620 resulting in the destruction of the Roman Forum and several other public buildings. Thessaloníki itself came under attack from Slavs in the 7th century. They failed to capture the city but a sizeable Slavic community nonetheless established around the city, that Byzantine sources call Sklavinies. Greek brothers Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius were born in Thessaloníki and the Byzantine Emperor Michael III encouraged them to visit the northern Slavic regions as missionaries; their adopted South Slavonic speech became the basis for the Old Church Slavonic language. In the 9th century, the Byzantines decided to move the market for Bulgarian goods from Constantinople to Thessaloníki. Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria invaded Thrace, defeated a Byzantine army and forced the empire to move the market back to Constantinople.

A new era of invasions comes next and at 904, Saracens based at Crete managed to seize the city and after a ten day depredation, left with much loot and 22,000 slaves, mostly young people. Also, in 1185 the Norman rulers of Sicily, under the leadership of Count Baldwin and Riccardo d'Acerra attacked and occupied the city, resulting in considerable destruction. But their rule lasted less that a year, since they were defeated in two battles later that year by the Byzantine army and forced to evacuate the city.

It passed out of Byzantine hands again in 1204, when Constantinople was captured by the Fourth Crusade in 1204. Thessaloníki and its surrounding territory—the Kingdom of Thessalonica—became the largest fief of the Latin Empire, covering most of north and central Greece. It was given by the emperor Baldwin I to his rival Boniface of Montferrat but in 1224 it was seized by Michael Ducas, the Greek Despot of Epirus. The city was recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 1246.

At that time, despite the various invasions, Thessaloniki had a large population and flourishing commerce. That resulted in an intellectual and artistic florescence that can be traced in the numerous churches and their frescoes of that era and also by the names of scholars that taught there. (Thomas Magististos, Dimitrios Triklinios, Nikiforos Choumnos, Kostantinos Armenopoulos, Neilos Kavassilas, etc)

In the 14th century though, the city was appalled by the Zelotes social movement (1342-1349). It began as a religious conflict between bishop Gregorios Palamas, who supported conservative ideas and the monk Barlaam, who introduced progressive social ones. Quickly, it turned into a political commotion, leading to the prevalence of the Zelotes, who for a while ruled the city, applying progressive social policies.

But the Byzantine Empire, unable to hold it against the encroachments of the Ottoman Empire, was forced to sell it to Venice, who held it until it was captured by the Ottoman ruler Murad II in 1430.

Thessaloníki, remained in Ottoman hands until 1912 and became one of the most important cities in the Empire, with a large modern port being built in 1901. The founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Atatürk, was born there in 1881, and the Young Turk movement was headquartered there in the early 20th century. The city was extremely multicultural; of its 130,000 inhabitants at the start of the century, around 60,000 were Sephardic Jews, whose ancestors had been expelled from Spain and Portugal after 1492. Some Romaniotes Jews were also present. Greeks, Turks, Bulgarians and Albanians made up the bulk of the remainder of the population

Modern times

The Mayor, Vassilios Papageorgopoulos presents the new flag of the Municipality

Thessaloníki was the main prize of the First Balkan War of 1912, during which it was successfully captured by Greece (October 1912). King George I of Greece was assassinated in Thessaloníki in March 1913.

In 1915, during World War I, a large Allied expeditionary force landed at Thessaloníki to use the city as the base for an offensive against pro-German Bulgaria. A pro-Allied temporary government headed by Eleftherios Venizelos was established there, against the will of the pro-neutral King of Greece.

Most of the town was destroyed by a single fire on August 5, 1917 possibly caused by the French expeditionary forces but probably an accident. 74,000 persons were rendered homeless and the Jewish sector of the city was completely destroyed. Venizelos forbade the reconstruction of the town center until a full modern city plan was prepared. This was accomplished a few years later by the French architect and archeologist Ernest Hebrard. The Hebrard plan swept away the Oriental features of Thessaloníki and transformed it to a European style city.

One consequence of the fire saw close to half the city's Jewish population, their homes and livelihoods destroyed, emigrate. Many went to Palestine. Some stepped onto the Orient Express to Paris. Still others found their way to America. Their numbers were quickly replaced by refugees from another disaster a few years after the war, when huge numbers of ethnic Greeks were expelled from Turkey in 1922 following the Greco-Turkish War. The city expanded enormously as a result. It was nicknamed "The Refugee Capital" (I Protévoussa ton Prosfígon) and "Mother of the Poor" (Ftohomána), and even today the city's inhabitants and culture are distinctively Anatolian in character.

Thessaloníki fell to the forces of Nazi Germany in 1941 and remained under German occupation until 1944. The city suffered considerable damage from Allied bombing, and almost the entire Jewish population was exterminated by the Nazis. Barely a thousand Jews survived. However, Thessaloníki was rebuilt fairly quickly after the war. In 1978, it was badly damaged by an earthquake.

Thessaloniki became the European City of Culture for 1997.

The city has two universities – the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the largest university in Greece (founded 1926) and the University of Macedonia.

In 2004, the city hosted some of the football events of the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Historical population

Year Population Change
1981 406,413 -
1991 383,967 -22,446 / -5.52%
2001 355,953 -28,014 / -7.30%
2011 322,240 -33,713 / -9.47%

Historical mayors


Thessaloníki is a major port city and an industrial and commercial center. The city's industries produce refined oil, steel, petrochemicals, textiles, machinery, flour, cement, pharmaceuticals, and liquor. The city is also a major transportation hub for the whole of southeastern Europe, carrying trade to and from the newly capitalist countries of the region.



Laikos FM - 87.6 FM -
Mylos 88.5 FM - 88.5 FM -
Thessaloniki Radio Deejay - 89.0 FM -
Zoo Radio - 90.8 FM -
Ellinikos FM - 92.8 FM -
Heart FM 93.1 - 93.1 FM -
Radio Thessaloniki - 94.5 FM -
Eroticos FM - 94.8 FM -
Cosmoradio - 95.1 FM -
Athlitiko Metropolis - 95.5 FM -
ERT 3 95.8 FM - public - 95.8 FM -
Star FM 97.1 - 97.1 FM -
ERT 3 102 FM - public - 102.0 FM -
Extra Sport - 103.0 FM -
Banana FM - 104.0 FM -
Rock Radio 104.7 - 104.7 FM -
1055 Rock - 105.5 FM -
City International -106.1 FM -
Safari FM - 107.1 FM -



Thessaloniki did not have a superhighway until the 1970s. Thessaloniki is accessed with GR-1/E75 for Athens, GR-4, GR-2, Via Egnatia/E90 and GR-12/E85 for Serres and Sofia. In the 1970s, the superhighway reached Thessaloniki and was the last section of the GR-1 ever to be completed; another short section of the superhighway was also opened. In the 1980s, the 2-lane bypass of Thessaloniki began construction and was finally opened to traffic running from the west side up to the other side of Thessaloniki to its southeast approaching Thermi. In 2001, an overpass closed the bypass for a few days and tore down an overpass for lane expansions. The last superhighway expansion was at Via Egnatia northeast of Thessaloniki. The long promised subway system, for which construction is expected to begin in the next few years, will serve Thessaloniki and its area.

The city is a major railroad hub in the Balkans, with direct connections to Sofia, Skopje, Belgrade, Moscow, Vienna, Budapest, Instabul as well as Athens and other major destinations in Greece.

Air transportation is served by Macedonia International Airport.

Sport Clubs


The city experiences a Mediterranean climate. Those north of Thessaloniki experience a Balkan climate, with cold winters.

Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum. [°C] 9 10 13 18 23 28 31 30 26 21 14 10
Minimum temperature [°C] 1 2 5 7 12 16 18 18 15 11 6 2
Rainfall (mm) 40 38 43 35 43 30 22 20 27 45 58 50
Record temperatures [] 20 22 25 31 36 39 42 39 36 32 27 26


(in chronological order)

  • Hartford, Connecticut, since May 5, 1962
  • Plovdiv, Bulgaria, since February 27, 1984
  • Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, since March 19, 1984
  • Lemesos, Cyprus, since June 30, 1984
  • Leipzig, Germany, since October 10, 1984
  • Bologna, Italy, October 20, 1984
  • Bratislava, Slovakia, April 23, 1986
  • Cologne, Germany, since May 3, 1988
  • Constanta, Romania, July 5, 1988
  • San Francisco, California, august 6, 1990
  • Nice, France, March 20, 1992
  • Alexandria, Egypt, July 12, 1993
  • Tel Aviv, Israel, November 24, 1994



Archaeological sites




See also

External links


  • Salonica, City of Ghosts: Christians, Muslims and Jews, 1430-1950, by Mark Mazower, ISBN 0375412980.