Thessaloniki, the summer in Greece

Thessaloniki is the second largest city in Greece, the capital of the region of central Macedonia, and is famous for being the destination of two of St. Paul’s epistles in the New Testament.

The city is over 2000 years old and in its hey-day Thessaloniki was a co-reigning city of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire alongside Constantinople.

The city is well-known for its many festivals and cultural events with the Thessaloniki International Trade Fair and Thessaloniki International Film Festival held each year.

The city boasts many Byzantine monuments and has 15 listed Unesco World Heritage Sites including the Hagias Sophia and Hagias Demetrius which is said to be the largest basilica in Greece. It also boasts many Roman, Ottoman, and Sephardic Jewish monuments. The Aristotle University in Thessaloniki is the largest in Greece and the Balkans.

The city has many imposing hills, mountain ranges, and fault lines and is subject to earthquakes.

Thessaloniki has characteristics of both temperate and Mediterranean climates and has dry winters, fog, and very hot summers with humid nights.

Thessaloniki is a major transportation hub with the Macedonia International Airport and railways connecting the rest of Greece.


Istanbul, East meets West

Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the second largest in Europe. It was the capital of four separate empires throughout its history from its founding in the 6th century as Constantinople.

It was once the seat of the Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. The city lies on the Strait of Bosphorus between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea with one part of the city in Europe and another in Asia.

The city’s historic and economic centres sit on the European side. It is further divided by a natural harbour known as the Golden Horn.

The city was the centre of Christianity for centuries until the rise of the Ottoman Empire when Islam took over. Today the city is still home to what was once one of the largest cathedrals in the world, later a mosque and now a museum– the Hagia Sophia.

The symbol of Istanbul may be the Topkapi Palace which was built after the fall of Constantinople. The city’s Grand Bazaar is also the largest covered market in the world.

The city has a borderline Mediterranean and humid sub-tropical climate but also has microclimates due to its vast size. Kebab is the most-well known of the city’s cuisine but it is also famous for its seafood.

The city was once famous for being the eastern terminus of the Orient Express from Paris. The city is still served by two international airports – the Istanbul Ataturk and the Sabiha Gokcen.