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Subjects in FocusThessaloniki from the 18th  to the 20th century

Thessaloniki from the 18th to the 20th century

Thessaloniki in the First World War
Vardaris Square at Thessaloniki
The cityscape of Thessaloniki
Travelling in Thessaloniki with N. G. Pentzikis
The inhabitants of Thessaloniki
Professions and trades
The Jews of Thessaloniki
The refugees in Thessaloniki
Entertainment in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki in the Balkan Wars
The fire of 1917 in Thessaloniki

Images on this page

Houses of the Old Town of Thessaloniki
Early 20th century picture postcard with houses in the Old Town, 1800-1917, Thessaloniki, Th. Tsinopoulos archive.

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The cityscape of Thessaloniki

Houses of the Old Town of Thessaloniki

"As for Thessaloniki", advises Pentzikis, "one should enter it from the sea." From a distance, the city truly had a story-book quality. Yet, as one traveller of 1878 remembers, "when you enter the town, you are amazed to see nothing but narrow, crooked lanes, badly built houses and not one square, not one paved crossroads."

This labyrinth, which was made even more asphyxiating by the many covered streets, was typical of the city even when it was at its most prosperous, in the late 19th century. By that time, however, as appears from the words of a German visitor of the time, its picturesqueness seems to have prevailed.

"The houses are of every European and Asian style and calibre, of every possible and impossible construction, but built in somewhat regular rows along the big road that runs parallel with the coast and goes round the hill; others are in higgledy-piggledy stacks that charge the hill and then lean tired and dilapidated on its slopes, as if they wanted to catch their breath. Here, you have the European-looking houses, and the warehouses of the Greek, Jewish and European merchants; there, the wretched brick huts of the Bulgarians; further up, the Turkish houses whose scowling faces along the road have something that sends you packing. They show only their wooden latticed windows with their iron bars, while in the inner courtyard the burbling fountains are quarrelling with the oleanders; and all the flowers of the East send their perfumes everywhere. Down below we see the imposing Renaissance style Ottoman Bank building, opposite it the Vali's residence, and amongst all this the mosques with their many minarets, pointed tips and balconies".

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.