...You come as a stranger and leave as a good friend...
PREFECTURE OF THESSALONIKI
Most people are familiar with the Prefecture of Thessaloniki through its namesake capital, Thessaloniki; a city symbol, with a glorious history going back 2,300 years, a cosmopolitan city bustling with life, the centre of the Macedonian land, the financial and intellectual centre of the Balkans. Many visitors feel, however, that the slopes and the forest clearings in the rural areas of the Prefecture host the majority of the important historical sites.
The Prefecture of Thessaloniki invites you to get acquainted with its natural beauty to journey into its long history of 6,000 years, discover its wetlands, the beautiful beaches of Thermaikos and Strimonikos Gulfs, the prehistoric, classical and Byzantine monuments, listed settlements, spas, and participate in folklore and cultural activities held here year-round.
A crossroads between East and West, the area developed very fast after it was first founded in 315 BC by the Macedonian King Kassandros. In 165 BC it was conquered by the Romans, who were later succeeded the Byzantines. It was at that time when splendid churches were built, still surviving in our day. After experiencing its golden age around 1300, the region fell to the Ottomans in 1430 AD.
In the years that followed, Thessaloniki developed into an important port of the Ottoman Empire and a fascinating city. Finally, on 12 October 1912, the day of its patron Saint Dimitrios, Thessaloniki was liberated by the free Greek armed forces and joined mother Greece.
Cultural life in Thessaloniki is very rich, with year-round cultural events, concerts, theatrical plays, meetings of dance groups, operas and cinematic festivals. The plethora of museums revive the rich and multicultural past of the region showcasing finds ranging from classical, Roman and Byzantine times to contemporary folkloric and ethnological exhibits.
The entire city of Thessaloniki is an open-air museum. The unique Byzantine churches co-exist side by side the contemporary buildings, the modern shops and the numerous coffee shops. Churches such as the Basilica of Saint Sofia with the wonderful mosaic, Saint Dimitrios with the undercroft of the patron Saint, David the venerable, Nicholaos the orphan and the Monastery of Vlatadon proclaim the Byzantine nature of the city. Glorious Roman and Byzantine monuments, such as the Arch of Galerios, the Roman Palace, the Castles, the Rotonda, the Ancient Market, the White Tower -that is also the trademark of Thessaloniki- verify the significance and prominence of the city throughout the years.
Nearby the city of Thessaloniki lies the State of Mount Athos with its unique churches and monasteries of unprecedented architecture style.
The Koronla and Volvi lakes, as well as the Delta of Axios, Loudias and Aliakmon rivers, are the habitat of hundreds of birds' species and wetlands of an astonishing biodiversity and are protected by the Ramsar International Convention. For lovers of both nature and horses nothing can compare with a visit to the Equestrian Club of Lefkohori at Lahanas. On Apollonia, Thermi and Lagadas one can find spas with well-organised installations for spring baths where one can spend few days of relaxation or rest curing.
SUMMER BY THE BEACH
Crystal-clear water and long sweeps of blue-flag awarded beaches attract thousands of summer vacationers to the refecture of Thessaloniki each year. The area boasts a sound hospitality and well-organised athletic of installations for summer sports, luxurious hotels, expertly organised marinas, tennis courts, small quaint pensions and fully equipped camping grounds.
THESSALONIKI, THE FINANCIAL CENTRE OF THE BALKAN PENINSULA
With a growth rate exceeding the domestic equivalent, a lively commercial centre where the bazaars of the East meet the fashionable stores of the West, over 2,000 export companies, hundreds of departmental fairs and the International Exhibition of Thessaloniki (that takes lace each September) hosted on the premises of the renowned HELEXPO-International Trade & Congress Fair, an international contemporary ort and the state-of-the art Macedonian international airport, Thessaloniki is the financial and commercial centre of the Balkan peninsula. More than 500 small and major conferences take place in Thessaloniki annually. With an intensive night life, Thessaloniki is a city that never sleeps.