Visit Thessaloniki’s main square, a busy gathering place for locals and the site of major events throughout the year.
Aristotelous Square is the beating heart of Thessaloniki. Lined with shops, restaurants, bars and hotels, it’s the perfect place to get a feeling for the pace of life in this city. Stretching down to the waterfront, the square opens up to reveal beautiful views of the Thermaikos Gulf. As one of the city’s centre’s only open outdoor spaces, this square is frequently chosen as the site for large public events, from Christmas markets to political speeches.
Development of the square began after a fire destroyed a significant portion of the city. French architect Ernest Hébrard redesigned the damaged city center in 1918, but most of the construction was delayed until the 1950s. Although the square doesn’t quite live up to the grand design Hébrard proposed, it did become the civic center that he had envisioned.
As you wander around the square, check out the Electra Palace Hotel, considered to be one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. Towering over the square, this landmark hotel dates back to the early 1970s and was designed to reflect the city’s historic Byzantine architectural style.
Browse the shops lining the square and stop by one of the bakeries to try a trigona panoramatos. This sweet cream-filled pastry is said to have originated in Thessaloniki.
On Mitropoleos Avenue, look out for the city’s famous Olympion Theater. Built in the 1920s, this theater hosts the annual Thessaloniki International Film Festival.
The holiday season is one of the best times of year to visit the square, when it hosts the city’s Christmas and New Year’s Eve festivities. As part of a Greek Christmas tradition, an enormous metal structure in the shape of a ship is illuminated in the square every December. Throughout the rest of the year, numerous other concerts, fairs and other cultural events also take place in the square.
Aristotelous Square is located in the heart of the city. It can be accessed via many of the city’s major bus lines.