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Prefecture: Thessaloniki (capital)
Province: Thessaloniki (capital)

40.636/40°38'18" N lat.
22.921/22°55'18" E long
Population: (1991)
 - 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
Name of inhabitants: Thessalonican or
Salonican sing.
s pl.
Address of administration: 70 Paparigopoulou St
Thessaloniki 546 30

Thessaloníki (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. The city is also known variously as Selânik, Salonika or Salonica (Σαλονίκη, Солун, Solun). It has a population of around 1,000,000, and lies in a bay of the Thermaic Gulf at the head of the Khalkidhikí peninsula. Its coordinates are .



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 several other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonica, who was also 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.

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, and was ruled by a praetor. It had a sizeable Jewish colony 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 Macedonia, and laid the foundations of a church. Opposition against him from the Jews drove him from the city, and he fled to Veria.

The White Tower
The White Tower
The Arch of Galerius
The Arch of Galerius

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 Sirmium in modern Serbia. His relics are still housed and venerated in Thessaloníki.

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 eastern (later Byzantine) empire. Its importance was second only to Constantinople itself. After a revolt against the emperor Theodosius I in 390 against his new policies condemning homosexuality formed by Christianity, 7,000 - 15,000 of the citizens were massacred in the city's hippodrome in revenge - an act which earned Theodosius a temporary excommunication.

Middle Ages

Repeated barbarian invasions after the fall of the Roman Empire left Macedonia depopulated, and Thessaloníki itself came under attack from Slavs in the 7th century. They failed to capture the city but a sizeable Slavic community nonetheless established itself there. Saint Cyril and his brother Methodius were born in Thessaloníki and the Byzantine Emperor Michael III, saying that "the inhabitants of Thessaloníki speak Slavonic quite well", 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.

The city was occupied by the Saracens in 904 and by the Norman rulers of Sicily in 1185, with considerable destruction and loss of life on both occasions. It finally passed out of Byzantine hands for good 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, but, unable to hold it against the encroachments of the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine Despot Andronikos Palaeologus was forced to sell it to Venice, who held it until it was captured by the Ottoman ruler Murad II in 1430.

Thessaloníki, renamed Selânik, remained in Ottoman hands until 1912 and became one of the most important cities in the Empire, with a large 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. The city's language of daily life was Ladino, a Jewish language derived from Spanish. (See Expulsion from Spain). The city's day off was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. Turks, Greeks, Bulgarians and Albanians made up the bulk of the remainder of the population.

Modern times

Thessaloníki was the main prize of the First Balkan War of 1912, in which it was successfully captured by Greece. 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 German King of Greece.

The majority of the town was largely destroyed by a single fire in 1917 of unknown origin, probably an accident. 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 Cultural capital of Europe 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 - -


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.



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


  • Best TV (local) featuring Best News
  • ET3 - the division of ERT
  • Makedonia TV


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 sections 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 subway system which began in 2002 will serve Thessaloniki and its area.

Sporting teams

Basketball teams

  • Aris

Football/Soccer teams

  • Aris - founded in 1914 -- official website
  • Iraklis - founded in 1908 -- official website
  • PAOK (Panthessalonikios Athlitikos Omilos Konstantinoupoliton) - founded in 1926 -- official website


The city experiences the Mediterranean climate. North of Thessaloniki experiences the Balkan climate which winters are common.

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)



Archaeological sites

  • Agia Paraskevi, Thessaloniki, Archaic cemetery
  • The Ancient Agora of Thessaloniki
  • Monastery of Latomos at Thessaloniki



Thessaloniki has schools, lyceums, a gymnasium, banks, a post office, and squares (plateies).

External links

Last updated: 08-17-2005 13:47:06
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