Greece // The northern mainland //

Ottoman Thessaloníki


Despite years of neglect, the 1917 fire and the 1978 quake, Thessaloníki has quite a number of vestiges of Ottoman architecture to show, mostly within walking distance of Platía Dhikastiríon. At the eastern corner of the square itself stands the disused but well-preserved Bey Hammam or Parádhisos Baths (Mon–Fri 9am–9pm, Sat & Sun 8.30am–3pm; free), the oldest Turkish bathhouse in the city (1444) and in use until 1968. The doorway is surmounted by elaborate ornamentation, while inside art exhibitions – often paradoxically with Byzantine themes – are held from time to time.

To the south of Platía Dhikastiríon lies the main Turkish bazaar area, bounded roughly by Egnatía, Dhragoúmi, Ayías Sofías and Tsimiskí. Much the most interesting bit, and a quiet midtown oasis, is a grid of lanes between Ayías Sofías and Aristotélous, devoted to selling animals, crafts and cane furniture. Nearby Ottoman monuments include the six-domed Bezesténi or covered valuables market at the corner of Venizélou and Egnatía, now housing jewellery and other shops. Directly opposite, on the north side of Egnatía, rather more modest stores occupy a prominent mosque, the fifteenth-century purpose-built Hamza Bey Tzamí (most mosques in Ottoman Thessaloníki were converted churches), now looking decidedly ramshackle.

Well to the north of Platía Dhikastiríon, beyond Áyios Dhimítrios basilica, is the seventeenth-century Yeni Hammam, now a summer cinema and music venue serving basic food, and better known as the Aigli; the fifteenth-century Altaza Imaret, tucked away in a quiet square diagonally opposite, sports a handsome portico and multiple domes.

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