Thessaloniki is the second largest city of Greece, founded in 316 BC over the site of an ancient settlement. In the Roman years, it was the largest Port of the area and it played a major role during the Byzantine years. Thessaloniki architecture had always been a unique example being the center of the Balkan Wars. Apart from its commercial significance, the town was also a military base. Many of the town's fortifications were torn down in 1870 with the construction of the quay which caused an economic development to the city of Thessaloniki. As a result, many buildings were erected replacing the traditional houses and many luxurious hotels, theaters, and factories.
In 1917 AD, the devastating fire destroyed a great amount of its historic center and the town was reconstructed from its ashes. Through its tragic event, Thessaloniki took its Byzantine form including outstanding buildings and a great road network. Several architectural marvels built during the Ottoman occupation, that already stood there create an interesting and historical concept of Thessaloniki. Apart from the new constructions, the old town of Thessaloniki remained untouched by time including Byzantine churches, monuments from the Ottoman Empire and well-preserved historical buildings.
The present-day character of Thessaloniki is a mixture of brilliant monuments and modern buildings. One of the finest examples is the Arch of Galerius, a triumphal arch that was constructed by the Romans to celebrate the final victory over the Persians. Also worth seeing is the Roman market and the Roman Theatre. Surviving church of Agia Sofia, made out of stone and marble with tall bell towers from the Byzantine times, have been declared as World Heritage Sites from UNESCO. The upper town (Ano Poli) which is the oldest and most picturesque settlement, surrounded by huge walls distinguishes for the paved paths and the old houses. Today, Thessaloniki is an amalgam of old, neoclassical and modern architectural features that attract many visitors.
Visitors can enjoy their stay in many of the traditional hotels that have respected the traditional architecture.