A few weeks ago I asked my Facebook friends if anyone would be interested in writing a blog post about things someone can do in their town. This is the 1st blog post in this new series. So, what would you do in your city? Here is Vicky, a fellow teacher from Thessaloniki. taking us around her town; Thessaloniki, Greece.
10 things to do in Thessaloniki
This is intended as an ‘alternative’ tourist guide of my city, because what I would like to share and suggest is places that I often visit and love rather than typical attractions of a city.
It is true that the city is largely known for its Byzantine history, so lots of opportunities to visit the many churches in the center of the city or to see the remains of the Byzantine walls
What I love though, and always take my friends/visitors to, is the old monastery (Moni Vlatadon) where St. Paul preached when he visited the city. It’s high up in the old city, on the left, just before you cross the first arch gate. I like the peacefulness and the spirituality of the area. Especially in summer, full of trees as it is, you can enjoy the fresh air, coolness and the sound of the crickets. A panoramic view of the city only adds to its beauty.
If you like walking, you can follow one of the narrow paths/cobbled streets from that place that will take you straight to the city centre.
Once you get there, and if you want to experience one of the last areas left nearly intact since the beginning of the century (not for long though…), this is the old fish and vegetable market. It has been a ‘fave’ for me ever since I was a child when my mother would go shopping every Saturday. Fish mongers invite you to smell the fresh fish (Hello, love! Let me feed you fresh sardines today. Come and see how fresh they are! – shoving them to your face ! –and trying to tempt you even more – We will gut them for you! ). I just love them!
Small shops selling natural sponges, shops with a variety of spices you can never imagine (there is a particular one you can even find snake-skin and teeth – I swear!). You can find fresh fruit and vegetables but also salted fish next to a shop with clothes, cheap ones mainly, another on with souvenirs and then a shop with army clothes. It’s all there. Take your pick!
Cross the road and you are in the area of the old Baths. They are not open to the public but you can have a nice coffee and watch the people pass-by.
The city is full of thermal baths but is also full of mosques which are now used as museums or cultural venues. One of them is the Yeni Tzami. Even though it is a bit further off the centre, you should give it a try. Places like these remind you of the city’s once multicultural character.
Not far away is the harbor and a stroll along the seafront is a must! You can enjoy your coffee and lunch at Kitchen Bar at the old Harbour and the (now renovated) warehouses. In the same area, there is the Photography Museum as well as one of the Bienalle Galleries.
Enough with the city centre now! If you are an art lover, the State Museum of Contemporary Art, located in the West suburbs of the city, is a wonderful experience. It is housed in the renovated building of the old Convent of Les Lazaristes , which is an interesting location on its own. Now, the old cells host the paintings and/or the installations exhibited. A unique place indeed.
A few words (or more) for this particular collection and one of my favourite places in the city : The initial collection was formed by a large part of the famous Costakis Collection, acquired by the Greek state. It contains around 1,275 works of Russian avant-garde art consisting of paintings, sculptures, drawings and constructions. You can see one of the vastest collections of Russian Avant Guarde Art, with over a hundred works of art on display in the permanent exhibition, they are the pride of the collection and are by artists such as K. Malevich, V. Tatlin, V. Kandinsky, El. Lissitsky, L. Popova, O. Rozanova, N. Udaltsova, A. Rodchenko, S. Nikritin, etc. The story behind the collection is fascinating since the Greek collector whose collection became the most representative body of Modern Russian avant-garde art anywhere, was no other than a chauffeur who worked for the diplomatic corps! More specifically, for the Canadian Embassy. Being in contact with many visiting diplomats whom he drove to antique shops and galleries ,and having a strong instinct for art, although with no formal education, made him develop not just an interest in art but a passion for it along with an open mind and a great ‘eye’. He wanted to rediscover the Suprematist and Constructivist art, lost and forgotten in the attics, studios and basements of Moscow and Leningrad. Hunting for ‘lost’ pictures, he did not hesitate to visit relatives, warehouses, small cities, any place where he could find ‘his’ paintings for the collection. Do not miss it, if you can! It is a must!
Later in the evening, I am sure you would appreciate a nice stroll at the new seafront. Plenty of people there, enjoying the light breeze and the beautiful colours of the sea and the sky. Sometimes, there is a jazz band playing. No matter what, it’s a great closure for a busy day. I hope you can enjoy it!
*I hereby declare that I have the right to publish the photos
Over to me
Firstly, thanks so much to Vicky for writing this fantastic post!! ❤
All the photos are copyrighted by Vicky Papageorgiou. To re-publish you need her permission. Vicky is a teacher from Thessaloniki. She is also a blogger. You can read her blog posts here.
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