Greek history, Mediterranean beaches, olives and ouzo...what is not to love?
It still impresses me what the Greek's accomplished millenia ago and how deep the history is. Just last year they celebrated the 2500 year anniversary of the Greek victory over Persia in 480 BC. (Unfortunately, a war that involved the first destruction of the Parthenon.)
Thessaloniki seems to have more to offer on the Byzantine Period (after the 5th Century.) Thousands of years of history, including Greek, Roman, Macedonian, Ottoman, Byzantine...all the way to the century long fight for independence...it is overwhelming.
And, Thessaloniki is right on the water, so it has the added benefit of enjoying a seaside walk right from the city center.
The largest city, the capital, and my favorite place to visit in Greece
Figuring out the favorite places to visit is a little hard here because as you walk through the center, it feels like every corner takes you back in time 2500 years.
But, there are a few things that shouldn't be missed.
Plus, if you are so inclined, you can get to water and beaches just 5 or 6 miles from the city center.
the most obvious thing to see in Athens.
what we see today are remnants from the third temple built on the site between 447 and 432 BC. Dedicated to the goddess Athena, who was a virgin goddess (Parthena is virgin in Greek).
Ancient Agora of Athens
the ruins of an ancient Greek gathering place & a museum with artifacts
Temple of Hephaestus
one of my favorites because of how complete it is today.
Hephaestus is the Greek God of metal workers.
This was built around the same time as the Parthenon.
Temple of Olympian Zeus
east of the Acropolis, a temple next to Hadrian's Arch
Greece's number 2 city, and about half the size of Athens.
The advantage of Thessaloniki is that the water is closer and the crowds are smaller. But, honestly, isn't nearly as impressive (or clean) as Athens. After Marseilles France, this is most graffiti stricken place I have visited..
There are some interesting, smaller, attractions to see here. But, nothing like the grand temples of Athens.
White Tower of Thessaloniki
By the water, you can walk to the top of this Ottoman tower re-built in the 15th century.
Arch of Galerius
next to a main shopping boulevard, this arch was built in the 4th century celebrating Galerius' victory over the Persians.
climb the hills up to this tower, an Ottoman fortification with a great view of the city.