The city stretches over 12 km and is surrounded by low hills facing a bay in the Gulf of Thermaikos. It was originally founded by King Kassandros of Macedonia around 315 B.C. and was named after his wife Thessalonika, half sister of Alexander the Great. The historical heritage of this great city ranges from the Macedonian dynasties, the Roman and Byzantine times, the spread of Christianity, the Ottoman occupation to WWII.
The visitor has a great choice of sites to visit ranging from numerous historical Byzantine churches, various museums including the archaeological, Byzantine culture, folk art, modern art and Jewish museums, the White Tower and the municipal art gallery. Rich in cultural activities, Thessaloniki holds an annual film festival, numerous trade shows and folk festivals.
Thessaloniki is famous for its cuisine - a blend of Greek dishes influenced by more oriental tastes and fresh seafood. The best food can be found at the local “ouzeries” which serve a variety of small local dishes to be accompanied with ouzo or a great variety of wines.
It would be an omission to not mention the Halkidiki region which consists of 3 peninsulas boasting the finest beaches in all of Greece. Here you will find long stretches of sandy beaches with lush vegetation of pine trees and olive groves. The first peninsula is home to Mount Athos or Agion Oros, a monastic region with impressive monasteries, churches and caves which have been frequented by hermits since the Byzantine times. It should be noted that women are not allowed to visit this region and there are a lot of formalities for those interested in visiting this unique region of Greece.