"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".