Πέμπτη, 15 Οκτωβρίου 2009

Our city: Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki lies on the northern fringe of the Thermaic Gulf, along its western side, and to its south-eastern side is bordered by Mt. Hortiatis. The city borders the Mediterranean and Mid-European Temperate climates, so it has displayed characteristics of continental as well as Mediterranean climate. The winter is relatively dry. Thessaloniki's summers have been hot and their nights humid.

The city was founded around 315 BC by the King Cassandros of Macedonia, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty-six other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great (Thessalo-nikē means the " Thessalian victory"). It was an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedonia. After the fall of the kingdom of Macedonia in 168 BC Thessalonica became a city of the Roman Republic. It grew to be an important trade-hub located on Via Egnatia and facilitating trade between Europe and Asia. The city became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia.
When in 379 the Roman Prefecture of Illyricum was divided between East and West Roman Empires, Thessaloníki became the capital of the new Prefecture of Illyricum. The economic expansion of the city continued through the twelfth century as the rule of the Komnenoi Emperors expanded Byzantine control to the north. Thessaloniki passed out of Byzantine hands in 1204, when Constantinople was captured by the Fourth Crusade.

The city was recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 1246. In the 1340s, it was the scene of the anti-aristocratic Commune of the Zealots. In 1423, the Byzantines offered the city to Venice (the story that it was sold is untrue), which held the city until it was captured by the Ottoman Sultan Murad II on 29 March 1430.During the Ottoman period, the city's Muslim and Jewish population grew. The city remained the largest Jewish city in the world for at least two centuries, often called "Mother of Israel."

During the First Balkan War, on 26th October 1912, the feast day of the city's patron saint, Saint Demetrius, the Ottoman garrison surrendered Salonica to the Greek Army without any resistance. In 1915, during World War I, a large Allied expeditionary force landed at Thessaloniki as the base for operations against pro-German Bulgaria, which ended in the establishment of the Macedonian or Salonika Front. In 1916, pro-Venizelist Greek army officers, with the support of the Allies, launched the Movement of National Defence, which resulted in the establishment of a pro-Allied temporary government that controlled northern Greece and the Aegean, against the official government of the King in Athens. This led the city to be dubbed as symprotévousa ("co-capital"). Most of the old town was destroyed by a single fire on 18th August 1917.

Thessaloniki fell to the forces of Nazi Germany on April 22, 1941 and remained under German occupation until October 30, 1944. The city suffered considerable damage from Allied bombing. In 1943, 50,000 of the city's Jews were sent to the gas chambers.

Thessaloniki was rebuilt after the war with large-scale development of new infrastructure and industry throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη, IPA: [θesaloniki]), Thessalonica, or Salonica is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the Greek region of Macedonia. It is honorarily called the “ co-capital” of Greece, as it was once called the συμβασιλεύουσα symbasilevousa (co-queen) of the Byzantine Empire. According to the 2001 census, the municipality of Thessaloniki had a population of 363,987. The entire Thessaloniki Urban Area had a population of 763,468.

Thessaloniki is also Greece's second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre. Its commercial port creates a crossroad between Greece and its southeast European hinterland. The city’s position is and has always been of great geographical and political importance as it has always functioned as a bridge between East and West.



















Early Christian and Byzantine monuments of Thessaloniki were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1988, and Thessaloniki later became European Capital of Culture 1997. In 2004 the city hosted a number of the football events forming part of the 2004 Summer Olympics.. The city hosts an annual International Trade Fair, the Thessaloniki International Film Festival, and the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora.

Τhessaloniki’s great cultural and historical importance is obvious to the visitor the minute he sets foot on its ground. The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki and the evocative Museum of Byzantine Culture are definitely worth a visit. A trip to Vergina (the ancient city of Aigais, capital of the Macedonian Kingdom and its impressive and rich in exhibits Museum, the museum of Vergina , will take you back to the era of the Macedonian Dynasty (Alexander the Great and his father Phillipos II). A stroll in the streets of Thessaloniki is a journey through centuries as Thessaloniki retains a large number of Roman and Byzantine architectural monuments and numerous Byzantine churches as well as several Ottoman and Jewish structures due to its great History and its significant role through the years.

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