Port in Macedonia, northeastern Greece, at the head of the Gulf of Thessaloníki; the second-largest city in Greece; population (2003 est) 361,200, urban agglomeration 802,200. A major modern port (opened in 1901), and an industrial and commercial centre, its exports include grain, food products, manganese and chrome ores, tobacco, and hides. Industries include textiles, shipbuilding, oil refining, petrochemicals, steel, brewing, machinery, and tanning.
History It was founded by Cassander, king of Macedon, in 315 BC as Thessalonica (to whose inhabitants St Paul addressed two epistles), and flourished after 146 BC as the capital of the Roman province of Macedon. Following the Fourth Crusade (early 13th century), the kingdom of Thessaloníki became the largest fief in the Latin Empire. The kingdom then changed hands many times until conquered (1387) and reconquered (1430) by the Ottoman Turks (under Murad II). During the years of Ottoman rule, the city's population was largely Jewish. The kingdom remained under Ottoman control until it was conquered by the Greeks in 1912 during the Balkan Wars. The Allies landed here during World War I (in 1915), beginning the Thessaloníki campaigns, and in 1916 Eleuthérios Venizelos established his pro-Allied provisional Greek government in Thessalonoetryki. A great fire in 1917 destroyed much of the city. During World War II it suffered considerable damage, and its large Ladino-speaking Jewish population (c. 60,000 in 1935) was nearly annihilated by the Germans.
Features Although largely modern in style, the city still retains its distinctive white Byzantine walls, the 15th century White Tower, and a Venetian citadel. It has many fine churches, including those of Hagia Sofia (modelled after its namesake in Istanbul), of St Demetrius, and of St George. From the late Roman period there are the ruins of the triumphal arch of Emperor Constantine. There is a Holocaust Memorial, two museums of Jewish culture, and a university.
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