October. This is the month when Greece’s second largest city, Thessaloniki, is blossomed through the cultural vibes of Dimitria Festival. This moodboard is a creative synthesis inspired by Thessaloniki history and cultural identity, imprinted in selected designers’ creations to complete your outfit and home style.
The imposing bronze statue of Alexander the Great riding his faithful companion of 20 years, Bucephalus.
Dominating Thessaloniki ‘s waterfront, a few meters away from another city landmark, the White Tower, the equestrian statue of the Macedonian commander was created by the sculptor Evangelos Moustakas in 1973 and is the tallest in Greece, reaching almost 6.15 meters in height.
The Rotunda of St. George was built around 304 AD under the orders of the tetrarch Galerius, who wanted to be his mausoleum. It was later converted to a Christian church by the emperor Constantine until 1590 and to a mosque by the Ottomans until 1912. In 1988 along with other fourteen Byzantine monuments in Thessaloniki, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, evoking city’s rich history.
The history of the city of Thessaloniki is a long one, dating back to the Ancient Greeks. During Hellenistic era, King Cassander of Macedon, founded the city around 315 BC and named the new city after his wife Thessalonike, half-sister of Alexander the Great. She gained her name (‘victory of Thessalians’, from Greek: nikē ‘victory’) from her father, Philip II, to commemorate her birth on the day of his gaining a victory over the Phocians.
According to the popular Greek legend, when Alexander died, Thessalonike, his grief-stricken sister attempted to end her life by jumping into the sea. Instead of drowning, however, she became a mermaid passing judgment on mariners throughout the centuries and across the seven seas. To the sailors who encountered her she would always pose the same question: ‘Is Alexander the king alive?’, to which the correct answer would be ‘He lives and reigns and conquers the world’. Given this answer she would allow the ship and her crew to sail safely away in calm seas. Any other answer would transform her into the raging Gorgon, bent on sending the ship and every sailor on board to the bottom.
Thessaloniki developed rapidly and as early as the 2nd century BC, it had its first walls built, which enclosed and protected the city. The city also came to be an autonomous part of the Kingdom of Macedon, with its own parliament where a King was represented that could interfere in the city’s domestic affairs.
Through its 2,300 years, and influences from Romans, Byzantines, Ottomans, Jews, Thessaloniki was formed through a multi-cultural melting pot and flourished economically as a remarkable trade center and powerful Mediterranean harbour. Until early 20th century and the Great Fire of 1917 that had burned two thirds of historic center, having changed once and forever the city’s socio- economic and urban structure.
Rather than quickly rebuilding, the government commissioned the French architect Ernest Hébrard to design a new urban plan for the burned areas of Thessaloniki and for the future expansion of the city. Today, Hébrard’s designs for a Beaux-Arts metropolis are still evident in the city, most notably at the Aristotelous Square and the aligned axes of Byzantine monuments.