Simply outstanding natural beauty is the front line, face of Greece. Everyone has visions of sea water reflecting the blue sky, yellow sands, white houses with blue roofs gleaming in pristine air and the sounds of Zorba, in your ears. Yes, Greece tempts you with these treats. Greece is famous of them. Greece sells romance to the senses.
But this is not the Greece I want to write about. Here was one of the cradles of civilization in Europe and the birthplace of many of today’s way of life. The list which includes the Olympic Games, philosophy, democracy, literature and drama, also has a grey and a concrete face.
Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece after Athens, and the capital city of the region of Central Macedonia. The city was founded by the King Cassander and named after his wife Thessalonike. When I was exploring I found it uninteresting, but now I realize there is more. Perhaps time and reflection makes changes to our perceptions.
Let me try to craft photos from my memories. The White Tower (which is really gray) is famous and a symbol of the city. It is a monument and a museum in one, nestled on the waterfront of Thessaloniki; a defensive structure dating back to the 15th century, later used as guard’s quarters, and then as a prison for those who were convicted to death.
One of the most besieged tourist objects in the city is the statue of Alexander the Great at the shoreline. Alexander’s conquests spread Greek civilization eastward as far as India. He lives in the heart of Hellenes and is considered to be the best of Greeks, a phenomenon, the greatest of all military geniuses in history and the most famous person ever born. Indeed he has almost God status.
Apart from being a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Greece, Thessaloniki features a large, two-terraced, roman forum dug up by accident in 1960s. The forum complex boasts two roman baths, one excavated while the other is still buried underneath the city.
Thessaloniki is a big city with narrow streets and old defensive walls. It represents the unknown face of Greece. This city does not have the perfume of most UNESCO sites. In my opinion, unless you are a severe history buff, it has the name UNESCO and only that the name.