Τρίτη 29 Δεκεμβρίου 2009

Σάββατο 3 Οκτωβρίου 2009



Beaches of Halkidiki

South of Thessaloniki is the peninsula of Halkidiki which boasts some of the finest beaches in all of Greece.

halkidiki, Greece halkidiki, greece halkidiki greece halkidiki greece

At one time the prime destination for Germans and othe Europeans, the area's popularity has receded only slightly because of the difficulties in driving through what was once Yugoslavia. People still come here in droves and unless you book in advance you may not find a place, especially in August. On the other hand the campsites seem to always have room and are well organized. Yes, there are still plenty of tourists there, especially in July and August when most of Thessaloniki comes here, but the beaches can be long, the hotels large and beautiful and there is enough authentic Greek life in the more remote inland villages to make a traveler here not feel like he is missing something somewhere else. The area is not only known for its amazing beaches but also for the mountains, valleys and the splended selection of wildflowers in the spring, which may be the best time to be here to beat the crowds.

POLIGIROS This is the capital of Halkidiki (69 km from Thessaloniki) built amphitheatrically at the foot of Mt. Holomon. There is an archaeological museum containing notable finds from excavations in the surrounding area. Visitors can also see sections of the old quarter of the town.

KASSANDRA is the most westerly of the three prongs of Halkidiki.
It is remarkable for its extensive beaches, pine forests and small villages as well as for the impact tourism has had upon it. It is difficult to get away from it all but if you like discos, fast food, motorbikes you may be quite happy here, provided you can find a place to stay. The entire Kassandra peninsula has several major hotels and organized camping grounds, many surrounded by woods and close to the beaches.There are also many smaller hotels and rooms available though difficult to find without booking in advance.

By the village of Petralona the famous cave is worth visiting. It is located along the west foothills of Mt Katsika at an altitude of 250 m. It is one of the most important caves with paleontological interest. The total length of the corridors comes to 1,900 m. and it is adorned with wonderful stalactites and stalagmites of all kinds. It was first explored in 1959 by Mr J. Petrocheilos, then president of the Greek Speleological Society who named it "Kokines Petres" (Red Rocks). In 1960 a 700,000 year old human skull was found here.The cave is open from 9 to 5 daily.

Sithonia, halkidiki greeceSITHONIA is less tourist-infested than Cassandra though it still boasts some of the areas most popular and attractive resorts including the Porto Carras Grand Resort and Golf Course, one of the largest and best in Greece. There are still small hidden sandy beaches particularly on the east coast where you can get away, at least for awhile until another person seeking solitude arrives. The ruins of ancient Olinthos, built by Athenian colonists is near the village of the same name. The southern most tip of the Sithonion is your best bet for dramatic scenery.
The village of Kalamitsi is probably the least commercial resort in the area, an excellent beach, some nice fish tavernas and rooms to rent. The village of Sarti has yet to take the plunge into obscene commercialism though it is popular with Germans and Austrians and visitors from Eastern Europe. I wanted to stay here because of its long sandy beach, and smaller beaches hidden among rocky out-croppings and mostly because there were lots of beautiful women in bikinis but my wife insisted on staying at Vourvourou which was a wooded area sheltered by some small islands with beautiful sea, but inhabited mainly by university professors and professionals from Thessaloniki. It had a terrific seafood taverna , the oddly named Gorgona e Poulman, and some nice inexpensive (and expensive) hotels, but while Sarti had a pleasant sea breeze, Vourvourou was on the hot and humid side when we were there. In fairness we were there doing a summer heat wave. If you came here during normal weather it might be one of those places you went back to every year. Further down the coast we would drive down any posted or unposted roads that looked like they led to the sea and found some nice beaches, some secluded and others taken over by campsites.
If you are traveling with a recreational vehicle or with a tent, Sithonia is a good place to go to meet like-minded travelers. Click here for more on Sithonia

MOUNT ATHOS or in Greek Agio Oros is to Greece as the Vatican is to Rome, a religious state within a state. To get a clear idea just imagine the Byzantine empire getting smaller and smaller until it only covered the eastermost penisula of Halkidiki, a wooded, mountainous, and rugged land with few roads, a few dozen monasteries and smaller spiritual settlements. Its a beautiful place, maybe the most magical place in Greece. The catch is you can't go there if you are a woman and you can only go for 4 days if you are a man and you need special permission to stay there. But you can get as far as Ouranopoulos which has beaches, hotels, seafood tavernas and is the last town before the no-mans-land between the Holy mountain and the un-holy rest of the world. For those who do have permission there is a daily boat from here to the port of Daphne, the entry point for pilgrims and monks. For women, or men who are satisfied seeing the monasteries from a distance there are excursion boats that sail around Mount Athos. More on Mount Athos....



Mount Athos

Mount Athos, or Agio Oros is the monastic center of the Greek Orthodox Church, a state-within-a-state and a living museum and spiritual center of Greece

Saint Pandeleimon Monastery

First of all, if you are a woman you can't go to the monasteries of Mount Athos. Second, if you are a man, and you don't have the proper papers they won't let you on the holy mountain either. Provided you are a man and have secured the nessessary papers you are in for the experience of a lifetime. Mount Athos is simply one of the most beautiful places on earth, more like a fantasy than what we know of as reality. Enormous monasteries, like castles or fortresses dot the coast and appear on the mountain slopes with every bend in the road. There are caves that still house hermits as they have for thousands of years and many simple houses or kelions that have several monks in each and a small church. There are churches with more gold than some countries have in their vaults and icons that perform miracles. There are virgin forests and animals that are found nowhere but the Holy Mountain. There are monks from every country in the Orthodox world and even some from non-orthodox countries. The seashore is perhaps the most beautiful in the Aegean, pristine and rarely used for swimming since monks don't generally go to the beach. There are incredible gardens cared for with a love of nature and of God. For spiritual seekers Athos has the appearance of heaven on earth. Of course being a monk is not all honey and roses. It's a hard life. But it's a fantastic place to visit if you are the right type: male, spiritual in nature, respectful of tradition and adventerous.
From the town of Ouranoupoli at the edge of the frontier between the Holy Mountain and the rest of the world there is a small boat that takes you to the port of Daphne, the official entry point for pilgrims to Mount Athos. There is one bus that goes from the port of Daphne to the town of Karyes in the center of the peninsula. There are a couple shops, one owned by my Dimitri, a friend of my family. The monks are friendly for the most part and love talking, especially hearing about life outside of the holy mountain. Be prepared to be offered a nice glass of tsipuro and then to tell your life story, as many of the monks are quite educated and speak English. The Skete of Profitti Elias was at one time known as 'the American monastery' because of the number of westerners living there.

Port of Daphne

If you are a woman, left behind in Ouranoupoli, take comfort in the fact that there are worse places to be stuck. The town has some nice restaurants and a pretty good beach and has the feel of a decadent outpost on the edge of civilization. You can also take a cruise around the Holy mountian and wave to the monks and maybe your husband or boyfriend. And if by chance he decides never to come back, don't worry. You can still write to him and be sure it will be delivered.

Athos Government and Police Force

Mount Athos Visiting Rules
Basic Conditions for Admission to Mount Athos In accordance with a "Chryssobul" (edict) issued by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine Monomahos, in 1060 A.D. which still remains valid, conditions for entering the territory of Mt. Athos are as follows:
(a) A permit is required for both individuals and groups. This is issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Directorate of Churches (at No 2, Zalokosta Street, in Athens, tel: 3626.894) or by the Ministry of Northern Greece, Directorate of Civil Affairs at Diiki- tiriou Square in Thessaloniki, tel. 031/270.092. (b) Women are not admitted into the territory.
(c) Overnight stay is forbidden except for those who have proven religious or scientific interests in the area and are over 18 years old.

If you need assistance try www.athensguide.com/dorian

Monastery of Saint Simonopetra

Monastery of Saint Esphigmenou

Skete of Saint Andrew

Monastery of Saint Dionysiou

Monastery of Saint Docheiariou

Lavra of Saint Athanasios

Monastery of Vathopedi

Monastery of Saint Docheiariou

Monastery of Saint Gregoriou

Monastery of Zografou

Monastery of Stavronikita


Where to eat and play in Thessaloniki
Apart from the many elegant restaurants in the city and the suburbs, there are also numerous "ouzeries" and taverns. Excellent grilled meat and chicken are served at the popular shops along the coast on the outskirts of town Check out the newly renovated Ladadikia district near Aristolelous square where there are a number of traditional restaurants and ouzeries on Odos Katouni. This is a working class area similar to Psiri in Athens which has been developed into an area of eating and entertainment. Frommers and Lonely Planet raved about Zythos, Frommers about the food and LP because you can get a pint of Murphy's for not much more than the price of an Amstel. This was one of the first restaurants to open in Ladadikia, way back in 1990. They have another restaurant by the White Tower. I ate at Foul Tou Meze which had a Greek grocery store motif and a large menu, good service, great food and a nice selection of ouzo and tsipuro. Palati has live Greek music as does Vyzantino II. Try also Ta Spata on Aristoleous square, Ta Nicia at 13 Koromila for seafood, Stratis on Nikis street and Rogotis on Venizelou street. Lonely Planet likes O Loutros Fish Taverna on Kominon street and Aderfia tis Pyxarias at 9 Platia Navarino. But of all the recommendations the one that looks most enticing to me is the Aristotelous Ouzerie in an arcade off the left of Aristotelous a block from the waterfront. I ate here with my cousin George, a monk on Mount Athos, many years ago and apparently it has only gotten better. LP also recommends Kokoretsina in Ladadikia, which combines two of my favorite Greek words, Retsina (resinated Greek wine) and Kokoretsi (livers, spleens, hearts and whatever else comes out of a sheep, stuffed into a large intestine and grilled). Check out a restaurant called The Kitchen Bar in the port in one of the old customs buildings for its indoor decor or to sit by the sea. Its similar to TGI Fridays or one of those mainstream shopping center bistros though in a much more dramatic setting and better food. Or take a taxi to Kalamaria and try To Taxidi which we just stumbled upon and loved. Its a clean, upscale-looking fish taverna with a large and interesting menu which also features some beautiful salads. The prices are reasonable too.
Music Halls, night clubs, discotheques are open till late at night, whereas those who prefer the bouzouki music can choose from a range of special tavernas in the area near the Airport. There are a number of bars and clubs near the White Tower. Discos are generally on the outskirts of town near the airport where the noise is less likely to bother people. Traffic on 3rd of September street and L 'Apogee are in town but probably not open in the summer. Avantaz is a Greek Music club at 156 Agia Demitriou. Mylos is a large entertainment complex in the warehouse district of the port. There you will find bars, galleries, restaurants, cafes, theatres and plenty of varieties of live music but difficult to get to without a taxi. Lido has its winter club in the Fix area, but the summer club is near the Macedonia airport. Also, Colonial is located on Aristotelous square in downtown, and the summer club is also near the airport. Art-House is a club-gallery that has exhibitions and parties as well as dance nights by known DJs including tribute nights to bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode. Look for their posters around town to see whats going on. Its at Boyatzikou #4 just off Leofors Nikis between Aristotelous Square and the White Tower. The Fix Community has clubs with live shows by known Greek artists like Glykeria and Giannis Kotsiras as well as DJs.
Many people do the Volta(evening stroll) along the harbor from Aristotelis Square all the way beyond the White Tower where it gets quieter and more romantic. You will certainly find somewhere to sit that interests you on the way there or back.
There are a number of movie theatres almost all showing English language films with Greek subtitles. Some are indoor and some are outdoor which are generally open only in the summer.
But like anywhere in Greece sometimes the best idea is to wander around and peer into the various ouzeries, cafeneons and restaurants until you find something special.


A Short Visit to Thessaloniki

The east coast from Larissa north is a line of beautiful sandy beaches below the enormous Mount Olympus, home of the ancient Greek gods. Today being Sunday the main beaches were all packed so we just stopped a couple times to take pictures of the ones that weren't and then continued on our journey. After the beaches is an enormous area of wetlands and river deltas where we saw cows standing on grassy islands that made us wonder if cows could swim.

Eventually fields and farms give way to factories and buildings and before we knew it we were in Thessaloniki. We drove all the way through the city to the suburb called Kalimaria (not squid-that would be kalamari) where we found a parking place in front of a small green park above the marina and while Andrea chased a small funny looking bird trying to take its picture I found a really great mezodopouleion-fish taverna called To Taxidi (The Journey) where we had a light lunch of a green salad served in a fried bowl made of parmesan cheese (like in Mexican restaurants when you get a salad in a bowl shaped fried tortilla), smoked grilled eel, really nice tarama salata, and then we watched the waiters as they walked by carrying all the things we should have ordered. Giant grilled octopus, stuffed kalamari, clams, mussels, barbounia, koutsomoura served to couple with two small children who seemed to only eat the fried potatoes as more and more food arrived at each table. "We have to come back here and really eat", I told Andrea. Outside it was about 38c but they did not spare the airconditioning in the restaurant and Andrea actually had to change seats with me because she was cold.

They offered us a complimentary ice-cream desert which we declined.
In Thessaloniki every restaurant we ate at gave ice-cream as a complimentary desert.
We drove back into Thessaloniki and found the port and the shops with the boat schedules. There was a boat leaving Monday at midnight and another on Tuesday at 7pm.
No boats today. If there had been we would have taken it. We were hot and tired and it was hard to believe this was only the third day of our journey. It seemed like we were traveling a week. We wanted to go to the cool breezes of the mountain villages of Lesvos and swim in the cold sea at Sigri.

There was a heat wave coming on Tuesday that would cover all of Greece, people were saying. I did not want to be in a big city or in an unfamiliar area. I wanted to be somewhere I knew how to stay cool.

I had parked the car on a small street next to a park which had been converted into a parking lot. Don't ask me why I did not park in the parking lot. I guess I thought I would only be there long enough to see the ferry schedules and did not want to go through the hassle of using the automated parking machines. But half a block from the car we found the beautiful boutique Capsis Bristol Hotel, right in the neighborhood of Ladadika which is to Thessaloniki as Psiri is to Athens, with traditional ouzeries, tavernas and cafes in an old restored neighborhood full of amazing buildings. It used to be the red light district.
The Hotel Capsis Bristol had rooms for 155 euros a night which was half the price it charges in September. "This is our slow season" the woman at the desk told me. It sure was. I didn't see another guest in the place. The hotel was like a small version of the Grande Bretagne in Athens. The rooms might have been even better with beautiful wood furniture, a big desk for me, a giant king size bed, state-of-the-art bathroom and shower big enough for the starting five of the Greek National Basketball team and a powerful airconditioner. It was by far the best hotel of the trip and one of the best I have every stayed at in Greece. Our room overlooked the tables and chairs of the restaurants in the main square of Ladatika.
Of course this being Greece you can't expect everything to be perfect and the wireless did not work in my room but they had a big space in the center of the hotel where I could plug directly into the DSL and get all my e-mail and answer it until it was cool enough to venture out on the streets.

On a hot Sunday afternoon the streets of Thessaloniki were mostly empty but as the sun began to set people leave their apartments and head for the long waterfront where they can do the evening volta (stroll) for miles from the port to beyond the Aspro Pirgos (White Tower).It was Navy week and there were a couple ships, one a troop and tank transport and the other a guided missile cruiser that were giving free tours which we took. How often do you get to walk around a fully armed guided missile cruiser? Outside the ship there was a guy on stilts dressed like an American revolutionary war hero and three circus clowns yelling to the crowd through a distorted public address system, also a part of Navy day though I don't really understand what clowns and a guy who looks like Paul Revere has to do with Greek military preparedness.
There was a small museum with a history of the Greek Navy and merchant marine, with models and lots of paintings and photos, some of the old ferry boats I remember from my childhood like the Kanaris and the Kariaskakis. In one of the old port buildings there was a beautiful cafe-restaurant called the Kitchen Bar with a modern menu and seats right on the dock with a view of the city.

Aristotelous Square is surrounded by cafes and bars and fills with people in the evening. Old folks taking a walk or sitting with their friends in the cafe, Gypsies, Africans and Xanthians selling balloons, toys, bootleg CDs and DVDs, teens on skateboards and boys and girls in groups flirting with one another make this big old platia the place to be in the evening. The large 19th century buildings on one side of the square mirror those on the other side.
The square continues up the hill as a large pedestrian avenue with shops and cafes and the famous Electra Palace Hotel which is the Grande Bretagne of Thessaloniki. If you walk up Aristotelous you come to the Ancient Agora Square and then the Roman Agora. Thessaloniki is the most important port in the Balkans. It used to be dominated by its Jewish community which came from Spain in 1492. The predominant language of the city used to be Spanish.
But the entire Jewish community was shipped off to the concentration camps where all but a few thousand were exterminated within hours of their arrival. What had been the Jewish Cemetery is now the University and the International Fairgrounds for the yearly Thessaloniki Trade Fair. Athenians think that Thessalonikians are provincial but I think it may be somewhat of an inferiority complex. Thessaloniki was a thriving city for centuries while Athens was a backwater and even today the locals seem more sophisticated and friendlier than their neighbors to the south. The city does not feel provincial. It feels like a big modern European city, cleaner and more organized and more livable than Athens. They are also building a metro which should make it even better the way the Attiki Metro improved life in Athens.
It was a tough decision on where to eat in Ladadika. I had called Grigoris Moisaides who is the taxi driver in Thessaloniki that most travelers use for transfers and tours, to see if he would meet us for dinner but he was beat from a day of driving. He recommended Zythos, right across the street from our hotel, one of the first and best restaurants in the neighborhood. But our eyes were attracted to a place right across the square that was decorated like a traditional old grocery store called Foul tou Meze with food much better than its name implied. The restaurant had a long list of smoked, salted and pickled mezes which includes filet sardines from Spain, smoked grilled skoumbri(mackerel) which was the best fish meze I have ever had, smoked and pickled herring, pickled lakerda (tuna), pickled anchovies, at least a dozen different cheeses from all over Greece, twenty different salads ranging from the two different flavors of tarama salata (3 if you include the rare tarama from Messolonghi), fava, the spicy cabbage and carrot politiki salad which we found at most restaurants, meatballs made from beef as well as octopus, zucchini, chickpeas, octopus grilled or in wine, kalamari stuffed and baked, or fried or grilled and various meat, pasta and vegetable dishes as well as all the typical dishes from Thessaloniki and northern Greece. They had twenty varieties of ouzo, and equal number of tsipuro and twenty or thirty different bottled wine and an excellent white xima (barrel supposedly bus actually it comes in a box) which was their house wine from the island of Limnos. It was the best culinary experience of the trip and could not be any more convenient to out hotel which was right across the street. I highly recommend this place. There may be better in the area but they will have to wait for my next visit.

The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel, included in our 155 euros. It was actually a pretty amazing breakfast. Espresso, cappuccino or whatever kind of coffee you like, a basket of different kinds of breads, cakes and croissants, fresh squeezed OJ, and a choice of any kind of eggs. I had the strapadsada which is scrambled eggs with feta cheese, tomatoes, peppers and onions.
Afterwards we went to check on the car and make sure our spot was legal. It seemed to be. It was in front of a bank but there was not a no-parking sign (a circle with an X) so it seemed silly to move it, so we went for a walk to Germanos Electronics to ask about the Cosmote Internet On the Go which would enable me to keep up with my e-mail no matter how far into the boonies we went, or so I thought. Twenty minutes later when we returned to the hotel to get Andrea's tax number which we needed to get a yearly contract, there was a ticket on my car. I left it and went to get our bags. I asked the woman at the desk what we should do about it. She said not to worry if it was a rental car because they don't really care. But when I told her I was parked in front of the bank she looked concerned. "In that case they may have taken your license plates". I went back to the car. They had taken them. Now what do we do? The woman found the address we needed to go to somewhere behind the train station and after much trial and error (yes we drove the plate-less car- you can do that... I think) we found the police station and gave the policewoman at the desk the ticket and the rental agreement from Swift.

The problem was that the rental was for June and it was now July so to prove we had not stolen the car we needed Swift to send us a new agreement by fax. I called Elias and he replied cheerily that it was on its way. The fax machine was upstairs two floors and the main desk was on the main floor so the woman told us to wait upstairs. The hall and offices were full of people who looked like they were in a lot worse trouble than we were and after twenty minutes we heard the sound of the fax. It came out of the machine totally black and unreadable except you could barely make out the Swift logo on the top.
I called Elias and asked him to send it again. He tried several times from several machines but nothing was coming through. (The date on the fax said March 25 1995) I could see fax machines in other offices but the woman in charge of our machine told us it was the only one. Finally the fax came through and clear enough for them to see that we had not stolen the car. But we needed to make a copy down the street because they needed one for their records and it was illegal for me to drive without one. There was a small copy center around the corner and the guy made the copy. "Eight cents" he told me. How do these guys make any money? When I got back to the police station Andrea was gone and so was the woman at the front desk. Where was she? Had they taken her away to interrogate her just for the hell of it? I started to panic. Plus there was a cop on the street giving tickets to the line of cars parked in front of the police station of which mine was one. What was the penalty for a second offense? What do they take if there are no plates? The tires? How come everything is so complicated in Greece. My phone rang. It was Andrea. When she went to pay our parking ticket the woman told her that we had to mail it in because they can't take money at the police station. She needed to go to the post office in the train station (which is being renovated by the way), then get a receipt that she had paid it and they would give us the plates. Finally she returned and we got our plates wrapped in a nice plastic bag.

Of course they don't give you a screwdriver so we had to make due with this nail file thing Andrea had and took a photo to commemorate the event. Then we got in the car and drove the hell out of Thessaloniki.
But I will be back.... check out the Capsis Bristol Hotel and if you are going to Thessaloniki stay there.


Archaeological Sites, Monuments, Byzantine Churches and Museums
Thessaloniki: Roman market and theater The Palace of Galerius (300 A.D.) at Navarino Square.
Roman Market and Theatre.(photo) Ruins standing at the Law Court Square (Dikastiria).
Roman Baths. North of the church of Agios Dimitrios.
Nymphaion . An elegant monopteral, circular building.
Vergina, the ancient site of Aigai and the first capital of Macedonia has extensive ruins including the tomb of Phillip and the summer palace of King Antigonas Gonatas. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 to 3:30 but stays open until 7 in the summer.

Thessaloniki: Rotunda Galerian Arch (Kamara) erected shortly before 305 A.D.
The Rotonda ,(photo) a domed building of early 4th century A.D., served as a Pantheum or as a Mausoleum for emperor Galerius.Now the church of Saint George. Was a mosque during the Turkish occupation and the minaret still stands.
Church of Ossios David (late 5th century A.D.), the chapel of the Latomos Convent , an early Christian church that still stand in Thessaloniki's Turkish quarter known as Epimenidou or Kastra.
The City Walls were erected during the time of Theodossios the Great to guard the city from Democracy Square of nowadays across Eptapyrgio up to the site later occupied by the White Tower, a work of the architect Sinan (first half of 16th century).
Agios Dimitrios , was completely rebuilt in 1948 according the original plans. The church has been destroyed twice before by fire.
The Crypt , the most easterly section of the Bath, is the place where St Demetrios was imprisoned, tortured and buried.
Agia Sofia (8th century) marks the transition from the domed basilica to the domed crusiform church is a copy of the original Agia Sophia in Constantinople..
Panagia Halkeon , a cruciform church, was built in 1028 A.D. according an inscription of that era.
Agia Ekaterini (13th century) is very well preserved externally, with traces of frescoes inside.
Agfi Apostoli (14th century) retains a rich decoration both externally and in the interior, dating at the time of the Byzantine Pateologos imperial dynasty.
Agios Nikolaos Orfanos (14th century), 20 Irodotou Str. tel. 213.627 richly decorated with frescoes in the 17th century it became the chapel of Vlatadon Monastery.
Profitis Ilias was built in 1360 upon the ruins of a Byzantine palace by the monk Makarios Houmnos.
The post-Byzantine era has also left in Thessaloniki an important number of churches.


Archaeology Museum : Near the White Tower and fairgrounds, tel. 830.538. Displaying sculpture of the archaic, classical and Roman periods.
Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki: The Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki was founded to honour the rich and creative Sephardic heritage as it evolved in the city after the 15th century consequent to the horrible expulsion from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492. The Museum is housed in one of the rare Jewish structures that survived the fire of 1917. Located in the very heart of Thessaloniki, this imposing building has at times housed the Bank of Athens and the offices of the Jewish newspaper "L' Independent" and is a silent witness to the great Jewish presence that once filled the streets of Thessaloniki. Open Tuesday, Friday & Sunday: 11:00am - 2:00pm and Wednesday & Thursday: 11:00am - 2:00pm & 5:00pm - 8:00pm. 13, Agiou Mina Street. For more info contact jctmuseo@otenet.gr (for more on the Jewish Community in Greece see www.greecetravel.com/jewishhistory)
New Museum of Byzantine Culture: 2 Stratou St., tel.: 868.570.
Ethnological and Popular Art: 68, Vas. Olgas, tel. 830.591 displaying costumes and objects of the last 250 years of Greek national life and culture. One of the best in Greece.
Museum of the Macedonian Struggle : 23, Proxenou Koromila Str. tel. 229.778. Exhibits from the years of local national resistance 1878-1912.
White Tower Museum : tel. 267.832. An exhibition of the history and art of Byzantine Thessaloniki covering the period between 300 and 1430 AD. There is a small cafe with a great view at the top.
Gallery of Fine Arts; 1, Nic. Germanou Str. inside the building of the National Theatre, tel. 238.601. Important works of Greek and foreign painters.
Municipal Gallery: 162, Vas. Olgas, tel. 425.531. Museum of the Crypt: Inside the church of Agios Dimitrios, tel. 270.591
Museum of the Society for Macedonian Studies: 1, Nic. Germanou Str. tel. 238.601.
Northern Greece Cultural Centre: 108, Vas. 01- gas Str., tel. 834.4o4.
Macedonian Centre of Modern Art: International Trade Fair grounds, tel. 281.567
Technical Museum of Thessaloniki: Thessaloniki Industrial Area, 2nd Street, Building no 47, tel. 799.773.
Museum of Attaturk . The founder of modern Turkey was actually born in Thessaloniki and his house has been turned into a historical museum. Don't be put off if the guard asks for your passport. No, it's not a small island of Turkish territory in the midst of Greece's second largest city, but with ocassional tensions between the two countries they don't want to take any chances of someone defacing the displays. The last time somebody blew up this house in the fifities it set off anti-Greek riots in Istanbul and the expulsion of several thousand remaining Greeks.
And if all this seems like a little too much culture you can always just go to the beach


Δευτέρα 13 Ιουλίου 2009

SALONICCO GRECIA www.alexandertravel.gr


è la seconda città più importante della Grecia ed è una città bella e romantica. La città venne fondata attorno al 315 a.C. da Cassandro, Re dei Macedoni, che la chiamò con il nome di sua moglie Tessalonica, sorellastra tra l'altro di Alessandro Magno.

Fino dai tempi di Alessandro Magno, Salonicco era considerata come uno dei più importanti centri culturali e commerciali esistenti e, durante l'impero Bizantino, era conosciuta molto più della stessa Atene.

Al visitatore Salonicco si presenta con il fascino orientale, le mura medioevali, interessanti monumenti romani e bizantini, straordinari reperti archeologici, musei ed i sempre presenti paesaggi bellissimi, che contraddistinguono l'intera Grecia. Da visitare la cattedrale di San Dimitrio, la cattedrale di Santa Sofia, il Mausoleo di Galerio, la Moschea e la Cittadella Veneziana, su un'altura della città verso nord. Quanto ai musei, il Museo Etnologico e del Folklore della Macedonia e della Tracia, la Pinacoteca della Società degli studi Macedoni, il Museo della Tecnica, il Museo della lotta Macedone e il Museo Macedone di Arte Contemporanea sono dei gioielli assolutamente da visitare.

Famosa è l'Università che qui ha sede.

Le attuali caratteristiche della città sono da ricondursi ad un evento particolare: nel 1917 gran parte della città fu difatti distrutta da un incendio e pertanto dovette essere ricostruita. La ricostruzione fu proibita fino a quando non fosse stato pronto un progetto di tipo moderno, il che accadde dopo pochi anni quando il francese Hebrard trasformò Salonicco in una città moderna di stile europeo, togliendole purtroppo un pò del suo fascino orientale.
Salonicco sa essere anche città moderna ed è un attivo centro commerciale e portuale. Oggi tutta la città è piena di vita. Grandi strade, parchi, piazze, negozi, bar, ristoranti, taverne.

Da molti inoltre Salonicco è considerata la capitale greca della gastronomia. I Romani vi portarono le loro abitudini, lo stesso fecero gli ebrei, rifugiatisi qui dopo la fuga dalla Spagna, e infine i Turchi vi portarono, oltre alle loro tradizioni culinarie, anche ricette persiane, armene ed arabe. Troverete ristoranti di ogni tipo, taverne, trattorie, pasticcerie, caffetterie, negozi alimentari di ogni genere.

In settembre la Fiera internazionale.

Simbolo della città è la Torre Bianca, sopra il porto. Un tempo era in colore rosso ed è stata ridipinta in bianco dopo la liberazione della città da dominio dei turchi per ricordare l'innocenza delle vittime del dominio ottomano.

Il clima è mediterraneo e molto caldo. In città è diffusa la conoscenza dell'inglese ed anche dell'italiano, per la vicinanza all'Italia.


Τρίτη 7 Ιουλίου 2009


A Very Short History of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki [1], in the Greek district of Central Macedonia, is, at about a million inhabitants, the second largest city in the country. More importantly, it is a city with a continuous 3000-year history, preserving relics of its Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past and of its formerly dominant Jewish population. Its Byzantine churches, in particular, are included in UNESCO's World Heritage list.

Museums and Galleries

At the end of Tsimiski street there is a special area in the center of Thessaloniki where you can find many museums:

  • Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum [7]

  • The Museum of Byzantine Culture [8]

  • State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki [9]

  • Thessaloniki Museum of Photography [10]

  • Museum of Cinematography in Thessaloniki [11]

  • Thessaloniki Technology Park [12]

  • Museum of Science [13]

  • Folklore and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia and Thrace [14]

  • Thessaloniki International Fair [15]

  • Jewish Museum [16]

  • Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art [17]

  • Municipal Gallery of Art

  • Teloglion Foundation of Art

  • Museum at the White Tower [18]

  • Museum at Aghios Demetrios

  • Goulandris Museum of Natural History [19]

  • Attaturk House

  • It is also useful to keep an eye on the website Museums of Macedonia [20] that covers the whole region.

The northernmost Byzantine walls of the city and parts of the western walls are still standing, as is the city's symbol - the White Tower, one of the 16th c. AD fortified towers - which is the only surviving tower on the seafront. The rest of the walls are in the picturesque old town (Upper Town) which offers a spectacular view over the bay, especially in the late afternoon. Take a walk along the enormous seafront promenade (about 12 km altogether) with views of the amphitheatrically-built city. See the Archaeological Museum, the new award-winning Museum of Byzantine Culture (2005 - the best Museum of Europe), the Roman Forum excavations.

Visit the upper town for its traditional old houses, small cobbled streets, Byzantine citadel, the Eptapyrgion fort.

The very lively and youth-oriented international film festival[21] is held in November, the International Trade Fair[22] in September. On no account should you miss the Byzantine churches built between the 5th and 14th century ACE, such as St Demetrios, (7th c. ACE) and Agia Sophia (Holy Wisdome, 9th c. ACE), and many lovely smaller ones in the upper town (St Nicolaos Orfanos is particularly worth a look for its frescoes), which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. One of them, the Rotonda, started life as a Roman temple of Zeus, built by ceasar Galerius, and is almost as old as the Pantheon in Rome. Next to the Rotonda, see the Arch of Triumph of Galerius and the ruins of his palace.

The city is also known as "the mother of Israel", due to the once flourishing jewish community here, which existed from the Roman period and grew after the Ottoman Empire took in the refugees from Spain ("Sephardis), until World War II when most of the city's Jews were transported to Auschwitz, never to return. However, there are still two Synagogues, and you can see the Jewish Museum.

Also interesting are the Turkish public baths, the Bezesteni (Ottoman closed market for jewellery and precious materials) the Alatza Imaret (Ottoman poorhouse) and Hamza Bey Camii (both restored and used for exhibitions).

The traditional central food market, with hundreds of stalls selling meat, fish, fruit, vegetables (sometimes cheek-by-jowl, an unnerving experience for North Americans), cheap clothes and shoes, flowers, herbs and spices, between Aristotelis Square and Venizelou street. Aristotelous Square-the biggest of the city-and the promenade with its cafes and restaurants.