There are echoes of the sacred all around Thessaloniki, from the mythical mountain home of the ancient Greek gods to contemporary Orthodox Christianity, and hidden traces of Islam and Judaism to uncover.
Splendid Byzantine churches head Thessaloniki’s holy sites
Under fluttering strings of Greek and Byzantine flags, three men raised a party tent on the terrace of the 5th century Osios David church one recent Saturday, hoping it would shelter festivalgoers from the heat that already shrouded the view of Mount Olympus across the gulf.
That’s Thessaloniki in a snapshot — a seaside trove of early Christian art and architecture, with echoes of the sacred all around the city, from the mythical mountain home of the ancient Greek gods to the contemporary Orthodox Christian monasticism of Mount Athos.
Pervasive if more hidden traces of Islam and Judaism also persist, even though many monuments were destroyed in a 1917 fire.
“People see the (archeological) ruins next to them, but no one knows the diverse history,” said Angeliki Ziaka, a professor of religion at Thessaloniki’s Aristotle University. “Now is the time to rebuild this knowledge, to find the intermarriage of cultures.”