Thessaloniki and its historic center
Thessaloniki is its historical center. Full of monuments of the Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman and Jewish past. With its coastal road, which extends along its entire eastern side. With its neighborhoods from Neapoli and Menemeni to the historic Toumba and the refugee Kalamaria. Alongside its squares, which are an integral part of the city plan and hide in them a charm and beauty, as they reflect the charming historical past, the dynamic present and the prospects, for a better tomorrow of the city.
Among all the squares of Thessaloniki, Aristotelous Square stands out. Impressive in size and beauty, it dominates the most central point of Thessaloniki and gives character and pulse to its daily life, since the living heart of the nymph of Thermaikos beats in it. And the truth is that in all of Greece, no other square identifies the city to which it belongs, as much as Aristotelous Square in Thessaloniki. Completely connected with the history, the culture and the culture of its inhabitants, this majestic square becomes a reference point for the whole city and dominates the tourist and not only the projection of Thessaloniki, as a starting point and station of the most special routes, in an acquaintance trip with the city.
Have you ever wondered how many hidden treasures of historical and cultural value Aristotelous Square and its wider area hide? Let's discover some of these treasures together, through charming paths along the square, which will reveal the reasons why Aristotelous Square is, without a doubt, a miniature of the multifaceted history of Thessaloniki itself.
Aristotelous Square and its story
Aristotelous Square, which is the largest open space in the center of Thessaloniki, is a vital point of the urban plan of the city, with special historical significance. The architectural design of the square was commissioned by the French architect Ernest Hebrart, after the catastrophic fire in 1917, which destroyed a large part of the historic city center. Having Western European architectural styles as models and with the clear adoption of neo-Byzantine models, to connect the architectural form of the square with the brilliant historical Byzantine profile of the city, Hebrart tried to create a monumental axis, full of public buildings in southern coastal part of the square, which would reach the Venizelos square and the Roman agora of Thessaloniki.
This ambitious architectural plan, and Hebrart's personal ambitions for the landscaping of Thessaloniki, however, remained unfinished over the years, with the result that the appearance of the buildings was greatly simplified, largely adopting its current architectural physiognomy. Today, with their refined elegance, the two corner buildings on Aristotelous Street, the current Olympion and the luxurious Electra Palace Hotel, stand out, as they are the only buildings that have remained faithful to Hebrart's original designs. At the same time, Aristotelous Square is characterized as a whole square-street, the most important and recognizable building complex of Thessaloniki and a square, which with its strong social and cultural character, unites all the inhabitants in its hospitable embrace.
The Modiano and Kapani markets of Aristotelous square. Oriental colors and flavors
Aristotelous Square hides within it historical and cultural treasures of great importance, perfectly connected with the life of the city. One of the most interesting places where a visitor can be found walking around the surrounding area is the markets Modiano and Kapani of Thessaloniki. Modiano market is the Central food market of Thessaloniki. It was erected at this point, by the engineer Eli Modiano, in 1922 and covers an entire building block, between Vassileos Heraklion and Komninon streets. It is the largest surviving and now famous food market of the historic center of Thessaloniki and a true paradise of flavors, aromas and colors, with an oriental essence that characterizes the Middle East’s markets. The variety of products offered by the stores is impressive. All kinds of delicacies and spices create an intoxicating blend of aromas, while itinerant organ players spread melodies, among the numerous taverns, which abound in the bustling market.
Kapani or Vlali market, is the oldest popular market in Thessaloniki. Crowded, literally, between sidewalks, which stretch around the streets of Egnatia, Komninon, Aristotelous and Menexe, Kapani is reminiscent of an area where time seems to have stopped. The food and retail stores of the market are, for the most part, two-storey and have traditional architectural motifs (windows, arches) on their facades. People flock to the pedestrian streets and mix with the aromas and flavors, which emerge intoxicatingly from every corner of the market, the shops and the beautiful restaurants, in the same space, thus composing some of the most characteristic images in the center. of Thessaloniki.
Panagia Chalkeon and Roman Market. A historical and cultural feast
A wonderful taste of the history of Thessaloniki is experienced by the visitor, as around the square are some of the most important monuments-sights of the city. Panagia Chalkeon, also known as "Red Church", from the color of its bricks, is located in the southwest corner of the square, next to Egnatia Odos. It is a true masterpiece of Byzantine architecture, built in 1028, in the area where, according to archaeologists, was the Bronze Gallery of the Roman market, which had many workshops of coppersmiths. The church preserves invaluable treasures inside, such as the amazing frescoes, which lead the art of hagiography to the most impressive level, as they represent the most important chapters of religious life, which will amaze every visitor with their artistic perfection and their aesthetics.
Of particular interest is the area of the Roman Market, revealing, in a clear way, the prosperity that Thessaloniki experienced, during Roman times. The area, which was the center of public life of the city and, today, is maintained in fairly good condition, is particularly extensive and brings to light monuments-sights, with special archaeological significance, dating, most of them, in the 2nd and 3rd century AD. The market was spread over two staggered squares, of which the upper square has been almost completely excavated. The lower square, which in Byzantine times was called Megaloforos, has not yet been explored. The two squares communicated with each other, with a monumental staircase, parts of which have come to light and impress with their beauty. The architectural remains of the galleries, which have been unveiled, with the ornate columns that adorned them, reveal the architectural elegance of the monument, while the Roman conservatory, which was restored to a satisfactory degree, gives a clear picture of the use of the monument as a public space for festivals, sports and music games, but also beast fights, a spectacle especially popular in Roman times. In combination with the very interesting museum of the Roman market, the place brings out aspects of the glorious Roman past of the city, a fact that made Thessaloniki, a leading city of that historical period.
A generous representation, therefore, of the history, the special culture and the rich gastronomy of Thessaloniki can be found in Aristotelous Square. The square, which was designed to be the point of contact of the city with the sea and becomes the starting point for a unique and very interesting trip in the history and culture of Thessaloniki, manages to become a "hug" square, which, with its equipment, the view to the endless blue of Thermaikos and its irresistible architectural beauty, will lovingly embrace everyone, making them the shareholder of a unique experience.