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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. The city was rebuilt in the 1920s and today is a lively modern city bustling with life and movement, with large avenues, parks and squares, lines of trees that frame commercial streets with showy shop windows.

Old houses, neoclassical buildings, stand side by side with modern dwellings, which makes a walk through any section of the city an interesting journey. The past and present merge at old taverns, "ouzeries", restaurants next to hotels and luxury bars, "bouzouki halls" (Thessaloniki is the cradle of modern Greek popular song, "rembetiko"), cinema halls, theatres and sidewalk cafes on street pavements and squares. Small family run taverns and basement pastry shops offer a delicious variety of famous Macedonian specialties, next to stalls of ice-cream sellers for busy pedestrians.

The main squares are Platia Elefterias and Platia Aristotelous, both on the waterfront and alive with cafes and restaurants, children playing or people just strolling. The Lefkos Pyrgos, or White Tower is the symbol of the city and is close to the University area with its clubs and bars, and the International Trade fairgrounds are located is nearby as is the excellent archaeology museum. The White Tower itself is also a museum of art and history. It was built in the 15th Century and was at one time a prison for insubordinate Janissaries, the soldiers of the sultan who had been taken from their Christian parents as children and melded into his elite storm troopers. Thessaloniki has a variety of fine hotels open year round offering a high standard of service.
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