The Greek Cornucopia – Thessaloniki

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog on our trip to Greece. Family and friends who read it thought it did not justify the 3.5 weeks that we spent there and recommended that I split it up and dedicate one post per place that we visited. I have retained the original blog for those of you who want a fast read. With Europe slowly limping back to normal since the COVID 19 lockdown and Greece quite enthusiastic about reopening tourism, there cannot be a better time for me to reminisce about that trip and write about it. Hope you enjoy these posts!

This is the first post of my seven part series on Greece.
Our second stop was Meteora, and Delphi was third. Olympia was next, followed by Crete and Athens. Lastly, you can read all my Thoughts, tips and things that matter in my seventh post.

First stop – Thessaloniki for Byzantine glory. A UNESCO world heritage site, Greece’s second largest city after Athens, Thessaloniki, locally going by the names Salonica or Saloniki, is dotted with monuments and churches from as early as 2nd Century A.D. The city was named after Alexander the Great’s step sister whose husband ruled the kingdom of Macedon in the early 300BC. In a little over two days, we covered the must-sees.

Arch of Galerius_4
The Arch of Galerius – a victory arch built in 298-299A.D by the Roman Emperor Galerius.
Palace of Galerius
The Rotonda
Built by Emperor Galerius to be his mausoleum, the Rotunda functioned as a church until the city was captured by the Ottomans who added a minaret and converted it to a mosque and was taken control by Greeks and converted into a Greek Orthodox church.
Agios Sophia_1
Agios Sofia – a church then a mosque and a church again, it is one of the oldest in Thessaloniki.
20130419_110939
Agios Dimitrios, church dedicated to Thessaloniki’s patron saint Demetrius.
Roman Agora
Ruins of the Roman Agora – a public square.
Wind Tower
A fortification and a prison, now a museum – the White Tower

In the evenings we would stroll along Nikis Avenue and sit and watch the crowds at Aristotelus Square. In the far distance you can see Mount Olympus.

Mount Olympus
The Thermaic Gulf and Mount Olympus in the background.

One day we ventured out to the beaches at Halkidiki, the prettiest blue sea, but the waters still cold in May.

The impossibly beautiful beach at Halkidiki
Halkidiki
Halkidiki

A small detour – Litochoro/Mount Olympus – to spot Greek Gods. May is still off-season for trekking. So the little town of Litochoro which serves as a starting point for trekkers was desolate. We drove up a bit inside the nature reserve to feel a little closer to Zeus et al and drove on to our next destination.

Mount Olympus in Litochoro
Mount Olympus looms over Litochoro

Our next stop was at Meteora.

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