Thessaloniki Ancient Sites
A walk around Thessaloniki will let you see many important ancient sites from the Roman and the Byzantine times.
The White Tower, that stands in the waterfront of Thessaloniki, has become the symbol of the town over the years. It was originally built in the 16th century by the Ottomans as a fortress, on the site of a former Byzantine tower. Along its history, the White Tower has been used as a garrison and a prison for people sentenced to death in the late 19th century, which is why it was called the Tower of Blood that time. Today it works as a Byzantine museum.
The Roman Market, close to the city centre, was in function for 8 entire centuries, from the foundation of the town in the 5th century BC till the early Byzantine times, in the 5th century AD. Remains of a theatre, a square, an arched street, a mint and a marketplace have been unearthed, while excavations and restoration works are being continued today.
The Rotonda (or Rotunda) is an impressive circular building in the centre of Thessaloniki. It was originally constructed by Roman general Galerius in about 300 AD and in the late 4th century AD, it was turned into a Christian church and decorated with nice frescoes. When the town was conquered by the Ottomans, Rotonda was turned into a mosque. After it was liberated in the early 19th century, it first became a church again and then a sculpture museum.
Mostly known as Kamara, the Arch of Galerius was constructed in 305 AD to celebrate and commemorate the final victory of Roman general Galerius over the Persians. This victory is the main theme of the carved scenes on this arch, which was connected with the Palace of Galerius and the Rotonda. Today, Kamara is a popular passageway and meeting point in Thessaloniki.
There are basically four hammams in Thessaloniki, all constructed during the Ottoman period of the town (1430-1912). Some of them are closed, while others have been turned into exhibition rooms.
Thessaloniki has many churches that survive from the early Christian and the Byzantine churches. In fact, these churches have been declared world heritage monuments by Unesco. These churches survive pretty well today and are spread all over the town. The church of Saint Demetrius (Agios Dimitrios) is the most famous, as he is the patron saint of Thessaloniki.
The church was built on the remains of a Roman bath and has undergone many damages along its history. In galleries under the church, there is the tomb of the saint, who died there for his faith in the early 4th century AD. The church of Agia Sofia, a miniature of Saint Sofia in Constantinople, the church of Panagia Chalkeon and the church of Panagia Acheropoietos are also famous and important monuments of the Byzantine times.