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Thessaloniki is the second largest city of Greece, with about 1,000,000 inhabitants. Thessaloniki, a city founded by Cassander, incorporates religions, customs and traditions in its culture. Conquered or conqueror, it has been for centuries a magnet for those who prized it for its location, its links with the sea and the routes which joined it, as they still do, to other worlds, weaving the wool of its multi-cultural past. Pointers to this succession of cultures are the finds of the Macedonian tombs, the structures of the palace complex of the Emperor Galerius on the Via Egnatia, the skillfully-wrought mosaics and wall-paintings of the Byzantine churches, the majesty of the fortifications, the alleys and houses of the Old Town, the Ottoman bath-houses and mosques, the imposing public buildings and the Neo-Classical mansions. Traces of antiquity, Hellenistic finds, Roman remains, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments, modern architecture: all together features of a city at once outstanding and important.

The first recognized settlements which grew up on the shores of the Thermaic Gulf were Neolithic, and these form the pre-history of Thessaloniki, the city which took the name of the sister of Alexander the Great. Over the long centuries of its history, today's capital of Northern Greece has been distinguished as a foundation stone of the Hellenistic world as a seat of the Roman empire, as the twin-capital of Byzantium, as the largest urban centre in the Ottoman empire after Constantinople, and as the metropolitan centre of the Balkans from the Middle Ages down to modern times.

 

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