2.300 years of history, 3 nationalities, 12 monuments
How many historic figures and events can one meet walking down the main street of a city? If the city is Thessaloniki the answer is, an awful lot. Aristotelous, running through its very heart, is Thessaloniki’s most vital artery. For more than two thousand years it has resounded with the hum of residents and visitors going to its markets, temples, baths and places of entertainment. Walking down from the church of the Prophet Elijah (Profitis Ilias) to the sea you will come across Roman monuments and Christian churches, Ottoman baths and Jewish buildings, places that down the centuries have witnessed historic events and countless small everyday stories. A timeless encounter with figures legendary and anonymous, the mosaic of nationalities and religions that flourished here.
- Profitis Ilias: A 14th-century Palaiologan church, its frescoes painted in 1360-1370. Sarai Tzami in the Ottoman age.
- Yeni Hamam Ottoman baths, 16th century. Now called Aigli, and used as a venue for cultural events.
- Aghios Dimitrios: 5th-century five-aisled basilica. Particularly important for its crypt, marking the site of the martyrdom of St Demetrios, and its exceptional mosaics.
- Roman forum: Thessaloniki’s biggest archaeological site. Major finds include a column, the Odeum, the Cryptoporticus, the sweat-room, and marvellous mosaics. A museum on the site houses other finds.
- Bey Hamam: Ottoman baths, built in 1444. The interior decoration is extraordinary, especially the Sultan Murad II Room. In front of the complex, on the Egnatia Street side, is a sunken hexagonal Roman ruin, thought to be either a dais or a fountain.
- Statue of Venizelos: A work by sculptor Giannis Pappas honouring Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who played a leading role in the Liberation of Thessaloniki (26 October 1912).
- Panagia Halkeon: “Our Lady of the Coppersmiths”, a domed cross-in-square church built in 1028. The name reflects the chief occupation of the neighbourhood at the time, and is echoed in its Ottoman name, Kazantzilar Tzami.
- Vlali and Kapani Markets: Traditional markets, built after the great fire of 1917 to plans by Ernest Hébrard. Chiefly foodstuffs.
- Modiano Market: Complex of five covered galleries designed by Eli Modiano and built in 1922. Food shops and eating places.
- Loutro: Ottoman baths, 16th or 17th century. The name Yahoudi Hamam (Jewish baths) describes its location in what was a purely Jewish neighbourhood.
- Yad Le Zikaron: Synagogue in use since 1984, built on the site of the old Ashkenazi Bourla Synagogue, incorporating marble from the synagogues blown up by the Nazis.
- Aristotelous Street, Aristotelous Square: The “Street of the Nations” designed by Ernest Hébrard in 1917 after the centre of the city was destroyed by fire. The façades of all the buildings include Byzantine and Mauretanian elements.
Source: Exposed in Thessaloniki