Thessaloniki, also familiarly known as Thessalonica or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece, with over 1 million inhabitants in its metropolitan area and considered as the co-capital city of Greece, mainly as a reference to its historical status, as the “co-reigning” city of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, alongside Constantinople.
Thessaloniki is located on the Thermaic Gulf, at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea. It is bounded on the west by the delta of the Axios/Vardar river.
The municipality of Thessaloniki, the historical center, has population more than 330,000, while the Thessaloniki Urban Area has a population over 780,000 and the Thessaloniki Metropolitan Area has more than 1,000,000 inhabitants.
Thessaloniki is Greece’s second major economic, industrial, commercial and political centre; it is a major transportation hub for Greece and southeastern Europe, notably through its Port. The distance between the center of Thessaloniki and the airport is 18 kilometers, while Athens airport is 520 kilometers away. The capital city of Bulgaria, Sofia, is just 294 kilometers while Skopje, the capital city of FYROM, is only 240 kilometers away.
The city, famous for its culinary tradition, is renowned for its festivals, events and vibrant cultural life and is considered to be Greece’s cultural capital. Events such as the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and the Thessaloniki International Film Festival are held annually, while the city also hosts the largest bi-annual meeting of the Greek diaspora. Thessaloniki was the 2014 European Youth Capital.
The city of Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by Cassander of Macedon and took the name after Alexander’s the Great sister, also called Thessaloniki. An important metropolis by the Roman period, Thessaloniki was the second largest and wealthiest city of the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Ottomans in 1430, and passed from the Ottoman Empire to Greece on October 26th, 1912.
Thessaloniki being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to numerous notable Paleochristian and Byzantine monuments, as well as several Roman, Ottoman and Sephardic Jewish structures. The city’s main university, Aristotle University, is the largest in Greece and the Balkans.
Thessaloniki is a popular tourist destination in Greece. In 2013, National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide, while in 2014 Financial Times FDI magazine (Foreign Direct Investments) declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle. Among street photographers, the center of Thessaloniki is also considered the most popular destination for street photography in Greece.