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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

Thessaloniki, Egnatia Avenue and the Kamara
Picture postcard of the first half of the 20th century with Egnatia Avenue and the Kamara in Thessaloniki, 1700-1994, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive.

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Travelling in Thessaloniki with N. G. Pentzikis

Thessaloniki, Egnatia Avenue and the Kamara
1700-1994, Thessaloniki, G. Megas archive

Talking about his city, the poet and painter Nikos Gavriil Pentzikis emphasizes:

"Thessaloniki may possess a lengthy past throughout which she has always upheld a very important role, yet she appears as if she is always fluctuating within an endless process of becoming. They tell us that she is ugly, but at the same time the same people admit that she may well become the loveliest of cities, with, for example, the new seaside avenue whose construction is already under way. They say she is a town reminiscent of the East, of Asia, commenting on their impressions of the Old Town. Yet they may also say she seems like Manhattan in the cinema, with her grand new buildings on the waterfront. They may say that her houses are old and ruined, unfit for habitation, without however denying their picturesqueness. Or that she has many new buildings, while deploring their lack of any charm and style.

At the point where the north and south winds meet, she can be as warm as Misiri with the scorching south-westerlies, yet in the last war the French and British suffered from frostbite in the winter. She has the deep blue sky of the islands, and fogs like London's. Her bay at the back of the Thermaic Gulf, where ships from every sea lie at anchor, most often makes us think of calm continental lakes, like Geneva's. Romantic when you glimpse her amidst the trees of Seih Sou Park, the sight of her shanty towns inspires the most crushing realism.

If the Via Egnatia and Galerius' Triumphal Arch inspire you with their epic quality, on Vassilissis Olgas Street you turn sentimental; if there are side alleys that remind you of the tranquil petit bourgeois poems of Francois Coppe, stepping into others will give you a headache, as if some corpse has polluted the atmosphere.

Everything begins in Thessaloniki, everything wants to be, to become something, and nothing continues the way it started. Everything is either interrupted or altered. The tendencies towards classical antiquity, the insistent memories of slavery, the arriviste influences of Western Europe.

A tall house side by side with a vacant lot, full of ruins and rubbish. Ruins that do not take you back to the past, but which coexist on the same plane as the living buildings. At different levels, time uses one and the same property, which though it may or may not have been a temple originally, has subsequently become a mosque, a cafe, a chemist's, a telephone centre, a tobacco warehouse, a restaurant, a cabaret, an office and a cinema".

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.