Thessaloniki is the largest city in Macedonia and the second largest in Greece, not to mention one of the oldest in Europe, extending over 12 km along the shore of the Thermaic Gulf. Thessaloniki is one of the Greek cities with the richest histories, and following the end of the First Balkan War has been considered the most influential city in Macedonia. In 1997, it was named the cultural capital of Europe. It is a dazzling and lively city with a century-long history.
In spite of earthquakes, disasters, raids and compulsory migrations, Thessaloniki has remained undisturbed by the centuries, an enduring city that has never faded away, or experienced abandonment, destruction or subsequent revivals. Thessaloniki has some of the most remarkable monuments from the ancient and Byzantine eras, with countless Byzantine temples. The words Thessaloniki and Thessaloneikeon are found on ancient coins, which date back to the times of Augustus, Alexander Severus, etc. The city’s past is kept alive in its aboveground monuments, Roman columns, Paleochristian and Byzantine churches, Ottoman mosques and covered markets, synagogues and Jewish markets and magnificent mansions where the local leaders and foreign aristocrats lived. In Thessaloniki you will encounter some of the most important monuments and attractions in Greece.
Thessaloniki / Geography
Thessaloniki is the capital of the Thessaloniki Prefecture and the second most populated city in Greece. It is amphitheatrically built on the slopes of Kedrinos Lofos (Hill of Cedars) and is surrounded in the north by the forest of Sheikh Sou. Thessaloniki lies on the western side of the Thessaloniki Prefecture and on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf. It is the major transportation hub of Northern Greece, since most national highways and railways to Europe pass through it, while its commercial port is also of great importance for Greece and its southeast European hinterland. The city’s industrial zone is located in Sindos, while the Airport, Thermi and Panorama districts are found to the east.
The dense traffic at the port of town has contributed to make the city an important commercial, cultural and industrial centre of Greece. North of Thessaloniki is Hortiati, the source of most of the city’s water supply, while to the northeast lies the fertile plain of Thessaloniki, formed by the silting of the rivers Loudias, Axios and Gallikos.
Because of its location, port and natural fortification, Thessaloniki has been considered a major strategic transport, commercial and cultural hub from ancient times till today.
Thessaloniki has a Mediterranean climate that borders on a semi-arid climate. The city enjoys many days of sunshine throughout the year. The highest temperature in Thessaloniki was recorded on 25/7/2007 and was 44 degrees Celsius whilst the lowest, -14 degrees Celsius, was reported on 26/1/1963. Thessaloniki’s direct contact with the sea and its proximity to the Lagada lakes make its climate characteristically humid with many dense fogs, especially in the winter morning hours. On most days, a strong and cold northern wind, known as the Vardaris, blows over the city. Snowfalls are common during the winter, but the snow usually melts away after just a few hours.
Thessaloniki / Population
According to the 2001 census, the townhad a population of 800,764 residents. The Metropolitan Area of Thessaloniki, for which there are better statistics, has an estimated 1,057,825 residents and covers 9.4% of the country’s population with a rising tendency, since it had the fourth highest natural population growth in 1997 and 1998 after the Dodecanese, Xanthi and Iraklio prefectures (preponderance of births/1,000 residents: 2.9), and a high proportion of primary schoolchildren per 1,000 residents (66 compared to Greece’s average 61). It produces 9.9% of the country’s GDP, 2.16% of the total manufacturing production and 2/3 of service-related products. With a per capita output of 3.8 million drachma (3rd rank with 105% of Greece’s average), its position in relation to the country’s average has remained stable in over a decade.