Thessaloniki

Day 128- White Tower, Brunch, and the Hagia Sophia Cathedral

Today we met up for coffee with a woman I used to work with at UW-River Falls who happens to be living in Thessaloniki! (Fun fact: She was one of the first people who thought Alexander and I would end up together!) I saw on Instagram that she was here working and so we decided to reach out! It was awesome to see a familiar face!! We enjoyed sharing our traveling experiences since she has also seen much of Europe. She also gave us a lot of great suggestions of things to do while we are here! 

On our way there, we walked along the boardwalk and enjoyed the brisk morning. While walking along, a man came up to me and started speaking Greek. I shook my head and said “I’m sorry I don’t understand”, and he said as he kept walking away, “Beautiful, beautiful!” I was so touched! I wanted to say “You sir, made my day!”

I asked our friend about it and she said that I shouldn’t be surprised if it happens again, because Greeks are very blunt and will talk to anyone! She also mentioned that we are more noticable because of our blonde hair! 

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We saw the White Tower of Thessaloniki which is known as the symbol of the city! It is from the 1400’s, built by the Ottomans, however, it probably replaced a Byzantine structure from the 1200’s. While under ownership of the Ottomans, the structure was used as a fortress, a garrison, and a prison.   Until the 19th century it was actually known as the Red Tower because of all of the blood shed from the tortured and executed prisoners. In 1912, the Hellenic State had it white washed as a symbol of cleansing- thus the White Tower! 

We saw the White Tower of Thessaloniki which is known as the symbol of the city! It is from the 1400’s, built by the Ottomans, however, it probably replaced a Byzantine structure from the 1200’s. While under ownership of the Ottomans, the structure was used as a fortress, a garrison, and a prison. 

Until the 19th century it was actually known as the Red Tower because of all of the blood shed from the tortured and executed prisoners. In 1912, the Hellenic State had it white washed as a symbol of cleansing- thus the White Tower! 

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Afterwards, we grabbed some lunch at a place nearby and had some wonderful American brunch! We had eggs and pancakes! Then we stopped back at the AirBnb to which out some laundry before stopping by the Hagia Sophia Cathedral! 

There has been a church at this location since the 3rd century, but this structure was built in the 8th century. It is based on the Hagia Sophia built in Constantinople (Istanbul). When Thessaloniki was taken over by the Ottomans in 1430, it was converted into a mosque. Once the city was liberated in 1912, it turned back into a church! It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and still operates as the Cathedral of Thessaloniki. 

The interior and exterior looked unlike most of the cathedrals we have seen so far! It was very cool to have a different idea of what a church can look like. 

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Then, our last stop for the day was of course the grocery store! 

Day 127- Travel to Thessaloniki

Today we flew to Thessaloniki, Greece! Coming here was actually another change of schedule as we found it was a little too expensive to go to Dubai just for a few days. So, since we found a cheap flight from Cyprus we decided, why not? It was also right in the middle of Cyprus and Romania, which is our next stop!  

We arrived about midnight to our AirBnB and so exploring had to wait!