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Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece with a population of over 1,000,000 inhabitants, is one of the oldest cities in Europe.

Hellenistic era:
The city was founded circa 315 BC by Cassander, the King of Macedon, on or near the site of the ancient town of Therma and twenty six other local villages. He named it after his wife Thessalonica, the sister of Alexander the Great. Thessaloniki developed rapidly and as early as the 2nd century BC the first walls were built, forming a large square. It was, as all the other contemporary Greek cities, an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedon, with its own parliament where the King was represented and could interfere in the city's domestic affairs.

Roman era:
After the fall of the kingdom of Macedon in 168 BC, Thessalonica became a city of the Roman Republic. The city became the capital of one of the four Roman districts of Macedonia. It kept its privileges but was ruled by a praetor and had a Roman garrison. Due to the city's key commercial importance, a spacious harbour was built by the Romans, the famous Burrow Harbour that accommodated the city's trade up to the eighteenth century.

Byzantine era:
When the Roman Empire was divided into eastern and western segments ruled from Byzantium/Constantinople and Rome respectively, Thessaloníki came under the control of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire). Its importance was second only to Constantinople itself. The quiet era followed until repeated barbarian invasions after the fall of the Roman Empire, while a catastrophic earthquake severely damaged the city in 620 resulting in the destruction of the Roman Forum and several other public buildings. Thessaloníki itself came under attack from Slavs in the seventh century; however, they failed to capture the city. In the ninth century, the Byzantines decided to move the market for Bulgarian goods from Constantinople to Thessaloníki. Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria invaded Thrace, defeated a Byzantine army and forced the empire to move the market back to Constantinople. In 904, Saracens based at Crete managed to seize the city and after a ten day depredation, left with much loot and 22,000 slaves, mostly young people. Despite this, the city quickly recovered, and the gradual recovery of Byzantine power during the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries meant that Thessaloniki entered a new golden age of peace and prosperity. However, after the death of the emperor Manuel I Komnenos in 1180, the fortunes of the Byzantine Empire began to decline, and in 1185 the Norman rulers of Sicily, under the leadership of Count Baldwin and Riccardo d'Acerra attacked and occupied the city, resulting in considerable destruction. Nevertheless, their rule lasted less that a year, since they were defeated in two battles later that year by the Byzantine army and forced to evacuate the city. Thessaloniki passed out of Byzantine hands in 1204, when Constantinople was captured by the Fourth Crusade. The city was recovered by the Byzantine Empire in 1246.

Ottoman era:
The Byzantine Empire, unable to hold it against the Ottoman Empire advance, sold it to Venice, who held it until it was captured by the Ottoman ruler Murad II on 29 March 1430, after a three day long siege of the city. During Ottoman times the city received an influx of Muslim and Jewish populations. Inviting the Sephardic Jews who had been expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella, was an Ottoman demographic strategy aiming to prevent the Byzantine (Greek Orthodox) element from dominating the city. The city remained the largest Jewish city in the world for at least two centuries, and of its 130,000 inhabitants at the start of the 20th century, around 60,000 were Sephardic Jews. Thessaloníki, pronounced Selânik in Turkish, became one of the most important cities in the Empire, being the foremost trade and commercial center in the Balkans. The railway reached the city in 1888 and new modern port facilities were built in 1896-1904. The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, was born here in 1881.

Modern era:
Thessaloniki was the main "prize" of the First Balkan War, as a result of which it was united with Greece on October 26, 1912. King George I of Greece was assassinated during a visit to Thessaloniki on 18 March 1913. In 1915, during World War I, a large Allied expeditionary force landed at Thessaloniki to use the city as the base for a massive offensive against pro-German Bulgaria. A pro-Allied temporary government headed by Eleftherios Venizelos was established there, against the will of the pro-neutral King of Greece. Most of the town was destroyed by a single fire on 18 August 1917. Venizelos forbade the reconstruction of the town center until a full modern city plan was prepared. This was accomplished a few years later by the French architect and archeologist Ernest Hebrard. The Hebrard plan swept away the Oriental features of Thessaloníki and transformed it to the modern, European style metropolis that it is today. Thessaloniki fell to the forces of Nazi Germany on April 9, 1941 and remained under German occupation until 30 October 1944. The city suffered considerable damage from Allied bombing, and almost its entire Jewish population was exterminated by the Nazis. Barely a thousand Jews survived. However, Thessaloniki was rebuilt and recovered fairly quickly after the war. This recovery included both a rapid growth in its population, as well as an impressive development of new, modern infrastructure and industrial enterprizes throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Most of the urban development of that period was, however, without a proper plan, causing traffic and zoning problems that remain to this day.

isabela_sor, evanrizo, bostankorkulugu, Cara, Maritsa, cak ha contrassegnato questa nota come utile

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Additional Photos by Jernej Trnkoczy (jernej) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 70 W: 0 N: 115] (1113)
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