An Afternoon Walk In Thessaloniki, Greece

20 Jan,2020 By Jagabond

Thessaloniki hides off the tourist map in Greece. It’s vastly overshadowed by the chaotic ancient city of Athens and the island beauty of destinations like Santorini and Rhodes. When budget airlines started flying there, however, that opened Thessaloniki up to curious travelers like myself. I ended up naming it as one of my European hidden gems.

Greece is one of those countries where you can take a walk around any town or city and keep bumping into history, and Thessaloniki is a prime example of that.

A Walk Around Thessaloniki

Alexander statue

The Macedonia region honors Alexander the Great with this statue by the seaside. Pella, a town only a short drive from Thessaloniki, is his official birthplace. With his undefeated record in battles, he’s like the Michael Jordan of military commanders. Another interesting note, the city of Thessaloniki is named after his half-sister. This is one of the more epic statues you’ll come across in Europe.

alexander the great statue in thessaloniki, greece

Umbrella monument

The Greek sculptor George Zongolopoulos built this in 1997, the year Thessaloniki was European Capital of Culture. In just over twenty years time, these metal umbrellas have become an integral part of the city’s seafront. They also promote social campaigns, for example when the umbrellas are illuminated in pink for breast cancer awareness month. This is no doubt a popular place for pictures.

umbrella monument in thessaloniki, greece

White tower

This is the symbol of Thessaloniki, though not due to its old age. In fact, it was only built in its current form in the 15th century. The White Tower stands majestically at the waterfront, and inside is a museum documenting the different periods of the city. The tower has served many purposes over the years, including an infamous prison during Ottoman times and a communication center in World War I.

white tower in thessaloniki, greece

Hagios Demetrios

The most important church in Thessaloniki honors St. Demetrios, a Christian martyr who died as all martyrs do, persecuted for their faith. He is the patron saint of the city, and also of agriculture, peasants and shepherds. If you’re used to churches in Italy and Spain, this will immediately look unique to you from the outside.

hagios demetrios in thessaloniki, greece

There are mosaics everywhere, from different periods ranging from the 4th century to the Dark Ages. The one below depicts St. George, another famous Greek martyr.

mosaic in thessaloniki, greece

My afternoon walk coincided with a Greek wedding. I enjoyed watching the common cup tradition, where the bride and groom both drink from a decanter of wine as a symbol of sharing all that life will bring. I didn’t understand any of the words, but love and good vibes like that seem to have a universal language.

hagios demetrios in thessaloniki, greece

Arch of Galerius

The Emperor Galerius ordered this arch built in celebration of a military victory in 298 A.D. A closer examination of the arch panels reveals several specific wartime scenes, mostly centered around Galerius. One of the things I love about Greece is the combining of modern with ancient times, as evidenced by peering through the arch and seeing the mundane apartment building.

arch of galerius in thessaloniki, greece


Is this the oldest Christian church in the world? Some historians argue that, but there’s no proof either way. Galerius also had this built, and it sits only a hundred meters from his arch. The minaret you see is from its time as a mosque, when the Ottomans ruled these parts.

rotunda in thessaloniki, greece


You can either walk or taxi to the old town in Thessaloniki, which is quite a bit uphill. Built in the 4th century, the castle acted as a city fortification for centuries, and similar to the White Tower, housed a prison known for harsh treatment.

castle in thessaloniki, greece

The payoff for making the journey up the hill is the great views of Thessaloniki and the Aegean Sea.

view from thessaloniki, greece

Strange elephant

From what information I can gather online, this was built for one of the Thessaloniki international fairs they are known for. Let’s be honest, that’s one ugly elephant. The fact that it appears seemingly out of nowhere in an industrial area makes it weirder. It makes me think of an article I read about abandoned amusement parks…creepy.

elephant in thessaloniki, greece

Street art

I’m definitely a fan of street artists all over Europe, and this is one of my favorites. It couples frightening imagery with political commentary, possibly reflecting issues facing Greece at the time.

street art in thessaloniki, greece

End of the road

All the things I just showed you add up to a long walk through Thessaloniki. By the end of it, you’ll be like the dog in the picture.

dog in thessaloniki, greece


Getting to Thessaloniki

The European budget airlines Ryanair and EasyJet fly to Thessaloniki, so check their websites for flight information. Relative to other cities in Europe, the Thessaloniki airport is a short drive away from the main city centre.

Other Blogs on Thessaloniki

I always like to provide opinions other than my own, so here are my favorite blogs talking about Thessaloniki.

Wanderlust Chloe

A Luxury Travel Blog

Travel Savvy Gal

Travel With Bender

The Sane Travel






Leave a Reply