Thessaloníki is the second-largest city of Greece and is the principal, the largest city and the capital of Macedonia.
It is also the capital of the Thessaloniki Prefecture and the capital of the EU region (or, synonymously, Greek periphery) of Central Macedonia.
The first syllable of the name is unstressed, so an alternate name for the city, formerly the common name in English, is Salonika or Salonica, from popular Greek Saloniki: South Slavic languages Solun, Turkish Selânik.
The metropolitan area has a total population of around 1,000,000, and lies in a bay of the Thermaic Gulf at the head of the Khalkidhikí peninsula.
Prefecture: Thessaloniki (capital)
Province: Thessaloniki (capital)
Location: Latitude: 40.636/40°38'18" N lat. Longitude: 22.921/22°55'18" E long
Population: 1.046.851 (2001)
Elevation: 20 m (centre)
Postal code: 54x xx, 55x xx
Area code: 11-30-2310 (030-2310)-20 thru 79
Municipal code: 2119
Car designation: N (Thessaloniki)
3-letter abbreviation: THE (Thessaloniki) or SKG (Salonika Greece)
Name of inhabitants: Thessalonican or Salonican sing. s pl.
Local holiday: 26th of October
The city was founded around 315 BC by Cassander, the King of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and 26 other local villages.
He named it after his wife Thessalonica, who was also the sister of Alexander the Great.
She gained her name from her father, Philip II of Macedon, to commemorate her birth on the day of his gaining a victory (nike) over the Thessalians (in Greek).
Thessaloniki developed rapidly and as early as the 2nd century BC the first Hellenistic walls were built, forming a large square.
After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon in 146 BC, Thessaloníki became part of the Roman Empire.
It became an important trading centre on the Via Egnatia, a Roman road that connected Byzantium (later Constantinople, now Istanbul) with Dyrrhachium (now Durrës in Albania).
The city was made the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia, kept her privileges but was ruled by a praetor and had a Roman garrison.
For a short time in the 1st century BC all the Greek provinces were subsumed to her.
Due to the city's great commercial importance, a spacious harbour was built by the Romans, the famous Burrow Harbour that accommodated the city up to the 18th century but covered later.
Remnants of the harbour's docks can be found nowadays under Frangon Street, near the Catholic Church.
Thessaloniki's acropolis, located in the northern hills, was built in 55 BC after Thracian raids in the city's outskirts for security reasons.
It had a sizeable Jewish colony, established during the 1st century AD and was an early centre of Christianity.
On his second missionary journey, St Paul preached in the city's synagogue, the chief synagogue of the Jews in that part of Thessaloniki, and laid the foundations of a church.
Opposition against him from the Jews drove him from the city, and he fled to Veroia.
Thessaloníki acquired a patron saint, St. Demetrius, in 306 AD.
He was the Roman proconsul of Greece under the anti-Christian emperor Maximian and was martyred at a Roman prison, where today lays the Church of St. Demetrius, first built by the Roman sub-prefect of Illiricum, Leontios in 463 AD.
Byzantine era and Middle Ages
When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western segments ruled from Byzantium/Constantinople and Rome respectively, Thessaloníki came under the control of the Byzantine Empire.
Its importance was second only to Constantinople itself.
Greek brothers Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius were born in Thessaloníki and the Byzantine Emperor Michael III encouraged them to visit the northern Slavic regions as missionaries; their adopted South Slavonic speech became the basis for the Old Church Slavonic language.
Thessaloníki was the main prize of the First Balkan War of 1912, during which it was successfully captured by Greece (October 1912).
King George I of Greece was assassinated in Thessaloníki in March 1913.
In 1915, during World War I, a large Allied expeditionary force landed at Thessaloníki to use the city as the base for an offensive against pro-German Bulgaria.
A pro-Allied temporary government headed by Eleftherios Venizelos was established there, against the will of the pro-neutral King of Greece.
Most of the town was destroyed by a single fire in 1917 of unknown origin, probably an accident.
Venizelos forbade the reconstruction of the town center until a full modern city plan was prepared.
This was accomplished a few years later by the French architect and archeologist Ernest Hebrard.
The Hebrard plan swept away the Oriental features of Thessaloníki and transformed it to a European style city.
The city expanded enormously from in 1922 as a result of Turkey expelled the ethnic Greeks following the Greco-Turkish War.
It was nicknamed "The Refugee Capital" (I Protévoussa ton Prosfígon) and "Mother of the Poor" (Ftohomána), and even today the city's inhabitants and culture are distinctively Anatolian in character.
Thessaloníki fell to the forces of Nazi Germany in 1941 and remained under German occupation until 1944.
In 1978, it was badly damaged by an earthquake.
Thessaloniki became the European City of Culture for 1997.
In 2004, the city hosted some of the football events of the 2004 Summer Olympics.
For a more thorough information on Thessaloniki, visit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thessaloniki) at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
This page was retrieved and condensed from
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thessaloniki) October 2005
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