(or a way to see Thessaloniki from the bottom till the edge)
For this event, that took place on the 25th and 26th of November, 98 buildings opened their doors to the people, showing them other parts of the city full of interesting stories. It guided us from places under the ground, untill the highest points of Thessaloniki – Catacombs or Castles -, giving us another point of view and allowing us to understand the beauty and the real size of this northen Greek city. What is better than a nice walk full of interesting information, helping us to enjoy our trip?
Our volunteers took this journey through the historical and the modern world of Thessaloniki, and they want to share with you what they saw.
The Catacombs of the Church of ‘St. John the Baptist’
The Catacombs of St. John the Baptist are located south of the Church of Hagia Sophia, five meters below the street. Entering the gardens of the catacombs, one can see the ruins of the nymphaeum – a spring dedicated to the nymphs -, as well as the thermal baths dating from the Roman times. The nymphaeum was converted into a holy water spring during the Christian times and an underground worship place was built there, in honor to St. John the Baptist. Today the catacombs still exist, telling stories for people’s prays in front of two old icons of St. John the Baptist, and for the clever escape of Jewish people trough the underground water system of the city. When you want to go in the catacombs, you have to go inside a small church full of old icons, and you will feel yourself a little squeezed but, even though, the church is big enough to collect the magical power of the believers. Through a narrow corridor you will enter in the catacombs, deeply belowthe ground. The stories say that, from the catacombs of St John the Baptist, you could go to the catacombs in Agios Dimitrios church by using the underground tunnels, but nowadays, because of the reconstruction of the buildings and the road system, these tunnels are destroyed. However, the church is renovated with a big glass wall in order to bring more sunlight inside the temple. Maybe someday, walking on the road, you will be able to see beautiful wedding ceremonies in the gardens of the church, near the magical nymphaeum, or a baptism of a small baby. In any case, this is one interesting historical place to visit.
Apartment nr 3 on Aristotelous square
Aristotelous square is one of the most popular places in Thessaloniki. Lights and shadows play games on the walls of really beautiful buildings. The Aristotelous street starts on the seaside and ends in one of the biggest roads of the city: “Egnatia”, and it is a fully walking area for visitors and locals. Big, luxurious buildings remind the ages of kings and queens. Actually this square was designed in 1918 (after the fire of 1917 that destroyed 2/3 of the city ) by the french architect Ernest Hébrard, and built lately at 1950s. He used elements of Byzantine and Western architecture to make the connection between the city and the Byzantine Empire. He had a lot of different ideas and plans, but unfortunately not every one of them was put in practice.
For the OPEN HOUSE Thessaloniki, one of the apartments opened its door, showing its luxury and different design, and it left us speechless. Once you enter the door, your eyes are fully swimming in gold. The kitchen and the living room are connected in one big space, and the furniture just gives you the thought that it has double its size. The table in the corner, planed as a place for eating, is made of malachite rock with hidden lights inside, as if this were the table where the Gods of the Olympus were planning the human destiny. The two bedrooms were offered to two couples as an opportunity to enjoy their holiday in Thessaloniki, and the view from the balcony shows the hole Aristotelous at your feet. Everyone can enjoy this for 160 euros per night (you can rent the apartment in AirBnB), but you have to be careful, once you entered the door of the apartment, you will not want to leave ever again.
Ph galleries: Mafalda Tenazinha