Thessaloniki has something for everyone and a visit there will definitely steal your heart! If you’re looking for info as well as for suggestions on what to do and how to spend a day in Thessaloniki as a local would, go ahead and have a look at my previous articles. The upper town, the castles, the vast sea view, the food, the nightlife, the relaxed lifestyle and of course, its people will no doubt guarantee a wonderful and unforgettable experience upon your visit to the Greek co-capital!
But what’s the story hidden behind some of the most influential neighborhoods, squares and landmarks of Thessaloniki? In the series of pages that follow, I’ll reveal some secrets and historical facts that will change the way you visit and experience Thessaloniki for the first time. Fasten your seatbelts and here we go!
Only a few minutes walking far from the imposing Aristotle Square, Navarinou Square can be found right in the heart of the centre of Thessaloniki. Navarinou Square is probably the most popular meeting spot among the students of the city, since it’s buzzing with modern coffeeshops, as well as with a variety of nightlife options. The Gounari walkway is considered to be a famous haunt of the Thessaloniki’s locals. In fact, it has recently become an attraction for tourists due to its “alternative” and local vibrant atmosphere.
This urban district comes laden with history, monuments and moods that evoke past centuries. It’s not a surprise that Thessaloniki- likewise other greek cities- is like a huge open-air museum; Greek, Roman and Byzantine antiquities can be found in every step of the city’s historic center. The square dates back to the Roman period of the city, with the ruins of the palace of Galerius located within it.
As mentioned previously, Thessaloniki has always been an important political and commercial centre throughout history. Of course, the Roman period couldnt’ have been an exception to this rule. After his successful campaign against the Persians in 299 AD, Galerius chose Thessaloniki to be one of the provinces’ capitals. In order to do so, and by trying to establish Thessaloniki as an important administrative centre of the era, he constructed a variety of luxurious and extremely detailed buildings. The most impressive of all, was of course the Palatial complex, which was spreading over an area of 150.000 square meters.
The Galerius Complex was located in the heart of the Roman Thessaloniki. It was built on a straight axis ranging from the North to the South including buildings like the Rotonda, the Triumphant Arch (Kamara), the Palace, the Octagon and the Hippodrome. InThessaloniki.com
Nowadays, when we refer to “Navarinou Square” , we usually include the area expanding from Rotonda and Kamara -or also known as the Arch of Galerius- to the centre of the past palatial infrastructures.
The location of the Palatial Complex in the center of Thessaloniki offers countless possible combinations on where to go and what to see! The White Tower and Nikis Avenue are just minutes away, while heading north you’ll discover Ano Poli (Upper Town), the impressive Byzantine Walls.
Cover Picture Credits © iStock/Alexander Jung
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