Thessaloniki is the name of Alexander the Great’s sister, whose husband founded the city in 300 B.C. Located in the Macedonia region of Greece, Thessaloniki’s historical importance spans milennia. It has served as a center of power and commercial hub for the Greek, Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine empires.

During Roman times, Thessaloniki was the first receive the Christian teachings of St. Paul; the apostle’s famous epistles are actually addressed to the people of Thessaloniki, exhorting them to maintain their Christian faith in spite of persecution. 250 years later the Roman ruler Demetrius was martyred for his Christian beliefs, and soon thereafter Rome became Christian.

However, it was as a Byzantium city that Thessaloniki achieved its golden age. Grand building projects, advances in science and philosophy, as well as developments in writing made Thessaloniki able to rival Constantinople as the most impressive city in Byzantium. Thessaloniki also had a thriving Jewish population, because during the Spanish Inquisition, Jews fled to Ottoman-occupied Greece.

After a rocky period of wars between Turkey and Greece, Thessaloniki was incorporated into the modern Greek republic. Today, Thessaloniki is uniquely able to bridge past and present. Ancient architectural wonders sit side by side with a modern harbor and international airport. It is easy to relive the glory days of Thessaloniki by spending an afternoon in one of the city’s many historical museums, such as the Museum of Byzantine Culture .