In addition to being the second most populous city in all of Greece, Thessaloniki boasts a thousand-year history that dates back as far as 315 BC.
A first-rate port city, it has been, since ancient times, one of the most important economic and cultural centers. Especially in the Byzantine era.
Today, the city preserves 15 extraordinary monuments that cover over 1000 years of history, from the 4th to the 15th century. A list that includes historical, religious, military buildings, and even 4km of walls (some parts of which can be admired intact).
Since 1988, these spectacular early Christian and Byzantine monuments have been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, for their exceptional value.
Many of these, preserve within them great masterpieces of art and painting of the early Christian and Byzantine era.
Thessaloniki UNESCO monuments are scattered throughout the city, magically appearing among modern buildings and palaces. A real open-air museum.
The famous Rotunda, in the center, is the starting point for visiting the Thessaloniki UNESCO monuments. The circular shape recalls the name of this emblematic building, the mausoleum of Galerius, and a religious place dedicated to the cult of St. George. You can admire splendid mosaics of early Christian art.
It is located at Platia Agiou Georgiou Rotonta 5. It opens Wednesday to Monday from 08:30 to 15:30. Closed on Tuesdays. The cost of admission is €2 per person.
A few hundred meters from the Arch of Galerius, the Basilica of Agia Sofia and the ancient Church of the Virgin Mary Acheiropoietos are two other places not to be missed among the UNESCO Thessaloniki monuments.
Paintings, splendid statues, and mosaics under imposing arches characterize Agia Sofia, an eighth-century church. Here, the Greek cross plan is combined with the dome.
Free entry. The Church can be open between 07:00 and 20:00 but it is not always possible to access inside.
Walk a few hundred meters along Agias Sofias to meet at circus 56 the splendid Panagia Acheiropoietos, dating back to the 5th century. The interior is beautiful with splendid colonnades, frescoes and mosaics.
Agios Dimitrios, just under 10 minutes’ walk, is dedicated to the cult of the Patron Saint of Thessaloniki, whose remains are kept in a chapel inside the Church. A majestic building that dates back to the 5th century, full of history and spirituality. It has suffered several devastations throughout history, including the fire of 1917 which destroyed much of the city.
It features richly decorated interiors, and, above all, the impregnable crypt. Right here, in fact, some excavations have brought to light the Roman baths.
The Church of Agia Chalkeon stands near the 2nd century Roman Forum. It is an important Byzantine church of the eleventh century made of red bricks, and for this reason nicknamed “the Red Church”. Elegant and, without doubt, among the most beautiful in the whole city, it features most of the original frescoes inside.