P. Merakos

Thessaloniki of the Arts

Early Christian and Byzantine Thessaloniki

Thessaloniki is a multicultural city and an open-air museum; a place with a long history and numerous open air monuments. Walk along the streets and alleys of the city and see the imposing monuments of the Byzantine Period. Visit churches of outstanding architecture and art, such as Panagia (Virgin Mary) Acheiropoiitos, Agios Dimitrios, Panagia Dexia, Agia Sofia, Panagia Chalkeon, Agios Ioannis Prodromos (an underground church), the Rotunda (Agios Georgios Church). These monuments are an intrinsic part of Thessaloniki’s urban structure; they are landmarks defining each neighbourhood, adding to the city’s special character. You will also see scattered remnants of the city’s ancient Greek and Roman past, yet its Byzantine heritage and grandeur are evident everywhere.

This open air museum is also a proud contributor to the arts: among locals there have been significant artists in the fields of painting, poetry, prose, cinema, theatre, photography and music. Its great cultural heritage is very much alive in melodies, exhibitions, galleries and vibrant discussions among intellectuals and philosophers.

Culture and Arts in Museums

Thessaloniki is home to some of the most important museums in Greece. The Archaeological Museum houses the greatest achievements of the Macedonian Culture, covering the region’s 23 centuries of history. You will discover masterpieces of the ancient world from prehistoric times all the way to the Early Christian period. The Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki was founded in 1912, as soon as the city was liberated and became part of the Modern Greek State. After the museum was renovated in 2006, it has become an educational hub as regards Macedonian history.

Visit also the Thessaloniki Museum of Byzantine Culture, the State Museum of Contemporary Art and the Folklife and Ethnological Museum of Macedonia-Thrace and learn about the city’s long multicultural history.

Another must-visit museum is the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki. The Jewish community in Thessaloniki used to be a thriving one, and it has forged strong bonds with the Christian population, as there was mutual respect of their differences. The violent removal of Jews during World War II hurt both communities. This museum has helped preserve the memory of this special aspect of the city’s history.

You will also find numerous theme museums with a significant contribution to the history of arts and sciences. Visit the Museum of Radio, located on the Thessaloniki International Fair premises; the Photography Museum; the Goulandris Natural History Museum; the Sports Museum; and the Thessaloniki Cinema Museum; the Railway Museum; the Museum of Ancient, Byzantine and Post-Byzantine Musical Instruments; the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle; the War Museum; and the Teloglion Foundation of Art: you will find interesting exhibits and information for your field of interest.

Theatre and Cinema

Thessaloniki has a long history in theatre and cinema. The National Theatre of Northern Greece, and other private schools and troupes, have all participated in the city’s theatrical activities. The city attracts cinema fans and filmmakers especially for the annual Thessaloniki Film Festival. Thessaloniki’s cityscape has featured in films and documentaries, as filmmakers have chosen it many times as a setting for their creations.


The city’s history includes a long list of poets who have added greatly to its culture. The sea views, the locals’ mentality and the various heritage areas have been a source of inspiration for some of Greece’s Thessaloniki-born poets with an international fame.

Art Galleries

In Thessaloniki you will find more than 80 private galleries hosting the work of artists, mostly newcomers. The School of Fine Arts of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki is among the most important in Europe. Great artists in visual and performing arts exhibit their work in Thessaloniki, and the city’s art venues are a great way to get acquainted with their creations.


Music has always been a significant part of Thessaloniki’s multicultural character. Different genres from distant lands have reached this place and they were mixed with Greek styles producing charming unusual results. It’s not uncommon to hear a virtuoso from Iran playing a qanun [a large Middle East instrument] or a band from Chile playing their exotic music in Aristotelous Square.

Thessaloniki’s music culture has been enriched and evolved significantly: there are Byzantine music schools, traditional workshops and young groups who first appear here and then their sound gradually gains international fame. Choose among the numerous concerts, live music events, small and large stages and enjoy the variety of Thessaloniki’s music traditions and contemporary compositions.

© P. Merakos

© P. Merakos

© H. Kakarouhas

© H. Kakarouhas

© H. Kakarouhas

© H. Kakarouhas

© H. Kakarouhas

© H. Kakarouhas

© H. Kakarouhas

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