When visitors to Greece think about sprawling urban landscapes they usually begin and end their thoughts with Attica, specifically the city of Athens. That's the case for good reason, Athens is by far the largest city in Greece, the Athenian metropolitan area is home to nearly half of all Greeks and it is the country's most important economic center. Having said that, for the traveler willing to venture north of the capital, the ‘co-capital’ of Greece, Thessaloniki, awaits. Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece and it sits in the Thermaic Gulf.
With a rich history of being the cultural hub of Greece, a large city in the country that was meticulously planned out from the beginning so it's symmetry is truly something to behold, Thessaloniki for centuries was a place where East and West collided and produced a true jewel of the Balkans. Liberated from the Ottoman Empire in 1912, Thessaloniki boasts beautiful seaside highways, beautiful architecture, and a wealth of dining options coupled with historic and boutique hotels. The Ladadika district holds so many tales within its narrow streets, but also eateries of the highest quality tucked away in unsuspecting corners.
Thessaloniki has been described by many as perhaps the most beautiful mid-sized city in the whole of Europe, and for good reason. When the Greeks were in the midst of their struggle against the Ottoman Empire and later on against the Turkish Republic, it was from Thessaloniki that Prime Minister and Ethnarch, Eleftherios Venizelos led Greece into a new age with his leadership triumvirate consisting of himself, Admiral Pavlos Koundouriotis, and General Panagiotis Danglis that doubled the territory and glorified Greece between 1916-1922 – until Venizelos’ shock electoral defeat.
With Thessaloniki being a city of strategic importance for centuries, visitors can enjoy a dining experience that ranges from Pontic, Asia Minor, to even Arab and Armenian cuisine fused into traditional Greek tastes resulting in unique, rich, and not easily duplicated favors at affordable prices. For those that believe that Greece is only composed of islands and that the islands are the only thing or place worth visiting, they must reconsider and contemplate a visit to the co-capital of Greece, Thessaloniki.