Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Greece 2021
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Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021

From Meteora, we drove eastwards towards the ancient city of Thessaloniki, where we planned to spend a few days. We decided to stop on the way for a coffee and stretch break, and we stopped at a town called Kozani. Upon researching this, we discovered that this was the saffron capital of Greece, where they produce saffron. We tried to find a saffron production facility to visit, but they were all closed as this was not the season. So, after a coffee break and buying some saffron, we drove to Thessaloniki.

A little about Thessaloniki from Wikipedia; it is the 2nd largest city in Greece, located on the NW corner of the Aegean Sea, and is a major port. The city was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon, who named it after his wife Thessalonike, daughter of Philip II of Macedon and sister of Alexander the Great. Cassander was king of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia from 305 BC until 297 BC, and de facto ruler of southern Greece from 317 BC until his death. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430 and remained an important seaport and multi-ethnic metropolis during the nearly five centuries of Turkish rule. From the 16th to the 20th century it was the only Jewish-majority city in Europe, after 20,000 Sephardic Jews immigrated to Greece from the Iberian Peninsula following their expulsion from Spain by the 1492 Alhambra Decree, It passed from the Ottoman Empire to the Kingdom of Greece on 8 November 1912. Thessaloniki exhibits Byzantine architecture, including numerous Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments, a World Heritage Site, and several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures.

We had booked to stay at a boutique hotel, the Pillow Urban Stay, which was located right in the central part of the old city. But the roads were narrow here, many one way, and parking was difficult to find. But we managed without getting a ticket 🙂 . Below are some images of Thessaloniki.

Within the busy downtown area, you can find ancient structures; the Rotunda is a massive circular structure built by the 4th-century Roman emperor Galerius; it was used as a polytheist temple (Romans), a Christian Basilica (Byzantines), a Muslim Mosque (Ottomans), and again a Christian church (after Greek Independence). Today, it is a simple Museum.

Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, The Rotunda. The Trigoniou Tower is on the back right, and the old City walls and castle can be seen on the hilltop in the background.
The Rotunda. The Trigoniou Tower is on the back right, and the old City walls and castle can be seen on the hilltop in the background.
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, The Arch of Galerius
The Arch of Galerius
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Old churches everywhere
Old churches everywhere
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Entrance of Agia Sophia Orthodox Church
Entrance of Agia Sophia Orthodox Church
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, About Agia Sophia
About Agia Sophia
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Very nice interior of Agia Sophia
Very nice interior of Agia Sophia
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Had to stop at a Vegetable Market
Had to stop at a Vegetable Market
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Lots of Greens
Lots of Greens
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Olives and pickle
Olives and pickle
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Bey Bey Hamami entrance; an Ottoman era Hamam
Bey Hamami entrance; an Ottoman era Hamam, with Arabic script on top of the entrance
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, View Inside the Hama; marble & stone
View Inside the Hamam; marble & stone
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Fish market nearby; since Thessaloniki is a seaport on the Aegean Sea, lots of seafood everywhere
Fish market nearby; since Thessaloniki is a seaport on the Aegean Sea, lots of fresh seafood everywhere
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Fresh Fish, Close up
Fresh Fish, Close up
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Another view of the Rotunda, with the preserved minaret from the Ottoman mosque time
Another view of the Rotunda, with the preserved minaret from the Ottoman mosque time
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, The White tower of Thessaloniki used to be an Ottoman fortress and prison, near the harbor; you can tell the size of the tower from the persons at the entrance door
The White tower of Thessaloniki used to be an Ottoman fortress and prison, near the harbor; you can tell the size of the tower from the persons at the entrance door
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, City surround views from the top of the tower
City surround views from the top of the White tower
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, View of the harbor from the tower
View of the harbor from the White tower
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Statue of Alexander the Great; Thessaloniki was part of Macedonia during the time of Alexander the Great
Statue of Alexander the Great; Thessaloniki was part of Macedonia during the time of Alexander the Great
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Various foods we had in Thessaloniki
Various foods we had in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, The old city walls had a thriving old city within it as well as the castle
The old city walls had a thriving old city within it as well as the castle

Views from the castle of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, City view of Thessaloniki from the Castle
City view of Thessaloniki from the Castle
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, View of the city at night from the castle
View of the city at night from the castle

We decided to drive further east to check out the “3 Fingers” area of Greece, which is in the Halkidiki area. There are 3 finger peninsulas (called Kassandra, Sithonia, & Mount Athos; from west to east). This area is supposed to have nice beaches and a lot of Balkans supposedly vacation here. We drove to Halkidiki and first stop was at a Texas old west saloon, the Crazy Horse Saloon 🙂 . Inside, it did look exactly like an old western saloon, Imagine running into a Texas western saloon in this remote part of Greece 🙂 .

Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, The owner got us to clown around :) being from Texas
The owner got us to clown around 🙂 being from Texas

We stayed at the Panorama Dream Studios A, a nice apartment in Vourvourou town in the Sithonia peninsula with a great view of the ocean, and drove around the Sithonia peninsula. Sithonia is the least developed part of Halkidiki which is why we came here; some views below from this area

Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Clear waters and nice sandy beaches in Sithonia
Clear waters and nice sandy beaches in Sithonia
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Snaking roads with little habitation
Snaking roads with little habitation
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Fish farming in the inlet
Fish farming in the inlet
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Beautiful bays
Beautiful bays
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Sundowner dinner
Sundowner dinner on the beach
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Nice countryside
Nice rolling hills countryside
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Views of the town of Vourvourou from our apartment
Views of the town of Vourvourou from our apartment
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Lavender farming
Lavender farming
Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset

After a couple of days here, we drove back to Thessaloniki and then to Mount Olympus, Volos and back to Athens

Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Back in Thessaloniki; chilling at the harbor
Back in Thessaloniki; chilling at the harbor-front

The 5 senses; how did we feel? Another feast for the eyes with lots of history, ancient architecture and visible signs of multiple cultures that have occupied this area at different times. Also, beautiful waterscapes along the sea, and countryside in Halkidiki and Sithonia peninsula. This area of Greece is not part of the mass tourism sites that Greece experiences (Athens, Santorini, Mykonos etc) and so it was very nice to not be in a place over-run by tourists and to be able to meet and communicate with locals who either spoke little English or none at all. Foods were always fresh; whether it was seafood from the sea nearby; or vegetables from the multiple local farms and markets nearby (vs superstores).  A nice and relaxing environment.

Mount Olympus & Volos next

Our trip so far

Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021, Trip till Thessoliniki
Trip till Thessaloniki
This entry was posted in Greece, Thessaloniki

13 thoughts on “Thessaloniki, Greece, June 2021

  • Nevin Adatia Harji July 20, 2024 at 10:41 am Reply

    Unbelievable journey. Beautifully captured…enjoy every moment you have .
    Stay Blessed both of you and continue to discover this wonderful planet of ours..
    You are going to places not heard off…off the usual track..there is sooooo much to visit. One life is not enough.
    Please continue to include us on list of recipients.

    • Ali Karim July 20, 2024 at 11:05 am Reply

      Thanks so much Nevin.
      Yes, this world of ours is so beautiful and should be explored to discover its beauty.
      Agreed that one life is not enough; we’ll have to come back to keep exploring 🙂
      Thanks again for the feedback.

  • Abdulrehman Premji July 17, 2024 at 9:51 am Reply

    Dear Ali Karim. Thank you for the message and beautiful pictures.
    With my best wishes,
    Abdulrehman Premji.

    • Ali Karim July 20, 2024 at 11:04 am Reply

      Thanks so much for the feedback; glad you enjoyed

  • Shine Bata July 15, 2024 at 1:58 pm Reply

    Thanks
    Enjoyed reading the blog

    • Ali Karim July 15, 2024 at 1:58 pm Reply

      Thanks for the feedback Shine; glad you enjoyed it

  • Perwaiz Ismaili July 11, 2024 at 10:56 am Reply

    Very nice… thanks for sharing the pics and interesting info. to keep us culturally informed.
    Take care!
    Perwaiz & Family.

    • Ali Karim July 11, 2024 at 11:00 am Reply

      Thanks Perwaiz, appreciate the kind words.
      So glad you enjoyed the blogpost

  • Salimah Virani June 29, 2024 at 5:40 pm Reply

    Hello Ali,

    Thank you for sharing this lovely journey with me! I was amazed at some pictures taken by you. 😀

    • Ali Karim June 29, 2024 at 5:42 pm Reply

      Thanks so much Salimah for the feedback and compliments.
      Glad you enjoyed the blogpost

  • Amir & Roshan Mulji June 26, 2024 at 5:16 pm Reply

    Excellent Views
    Thanks

    • Ali Karim June 26, 2024 at 5:17 pm Reply

      Thanks Amir & Roshan

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