Thessaloniki’s History

Thessaloniki’s History: Thessaloniki historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia. Thessaloniki is the capital of Macedonia and second largest city of Greece. It was first established in 316 B.C. by Kassandros and named after his wife, Thessaloniki, half sister of Alexander the Great. It means Victory in Thessaly. It is here that the Apostle Paul first brought the message of Christianity (50 A.D.) and that Demetrius, a Roman officer died in martyrdom (303 A.D.), thus becoming the holy patron of the city.
Thessaloniki was the second most important city of the Byzantine Empire, next to Constantinople, and is full of beautiful examples of Byzantine art and architecture. In the 15th Century Thessaloniki became a haven for Jews exiled from Spain, who became an important part of the culture, until they were sent to the concentration camps during the Nazi occupation, thus ending a period of four hundred years of Jewish influence both socially and economically. This period roughly corresponds with the occupation of Greece by the Ottoman Turks.
Although much of Greece was liberated after the 1821 War of Independence, Thessaloniki and Macedonia remained Ottoman. Both before and after the period Greeks call the ‘Macedonian Struggle’ (1904–08), Thessaloniki was the base for mutually antagonistic rebel groups and reform movements, including the Young Turks, which sought to introduce Western-style reforms to save the dwindling Ottoman Empire. One notable Young Turk and Thessaloniki native, Mustafa Kemal, would later become the founder of modern Turkey, and be deemed Atatürk (Father of the Turks).

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