The White Tower of Thessaloniki | Attraction Guides | History Hit

The White Tower of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki, Macedonia - Thrace, Greece

Sarah Roller

24 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Lambros Kazan / Shutterstock

About The White Tower of Thessaloniki

The White Tower of Thessaloniki (in greek Lefkos Pyrgos), is a cylindrical stone tower monument and museum in the city of Thessaloniki, capital of the Macedonian region of northern Greece.

History of the White Tower of Thessaloniki

Constructed by the Ottomans in the 15th Century, it was originally built to help defend the city’s harbour and replaced an older Byzantine structure. However, the White Tower of Thessaloniki later gained a far more sinister reputation when it became an infamous prison and the scene of executions during the Ottoman period.

Once Greece gained control of the city, the White Tower of Thessaloniki was substantially remodelled and its exterior whitewashed, hence the name ‘White Tower’. It has since been adopted as the symbol of the city.

The History of Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki itself was founded around 316/315 BC by Cassander, the King of Macedonia. Cassander named the city after his wife, the sister of Alexander the Great. Built in a region rich in productive sources, Thessaloniki was protected by the mountain of Hortiatis, deep in Thermaikos Gulf, which provided ships with safety and open communication to the sea.

Cosmopolitan in antiquity, as shown by the worship of various gods both from Ancient Greece and from abroad, Thessaloniki was first acquainted with Christianity in 50 AD, when St. Paul the Apostle visited it for the first time and taught at a Jewish synagogue.

During the Byzantine era, there were periods when Thessaloniki was the second most important city after Constantinople, the ‘First after the First’, as Byzantine writers called it. During the Ottoman occupation, Thessaloniki retained its importance, being the largest urban centre in the European part of the Ottoman Empire, with a multiracial society.

In 1912 the city was incorporated into the Greek state. Due to its geopolitical location, Thessaloniki has always been a crossroads where people of different religious and cultural origins met and coexisted for long periods of time. However, the city steadily maintained its Greek character, which was enhanced with the settlement of Asian Minor refugees in 1922.

The White Tower of Thessaloniki today

The museum that is found within the White Tower presents exhibitions covering the city’s history through time. It is intended to help visitors and residents to get better acquainted with the city, its monuments and its museums.

Visitors can also get great views of the city from the top floor of the White Tower. It’s open daily all year round, with slightly shorter hours in the winter. Get a combined ticket for the Byzantine Museum, Archaeological Museum, White Tower and Roman Forum which lasts for 3 days to make the most of Thessaloniki’s history.

Getting to the White Tower of Thessaloniki

The White Tower overlooks the seafront in Thessaloniki: it’s easy to walk here from anywhere else in town and there’s parking a couple of streets away at Thessbike Central Parking YMCA.

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