In 1997 it was named European Capital of Culture within the European Union. Its name means 'victory in Thessaly', and was the name of the wife of its founder, the Macedonian general Kassander, who had married the daughter of Philip II of Macedon, half-sister of Alexander the Great.
It was founded in 315 BC on the ancient site of Therme, from which the name for the large gulf on which the city sits--the Thermaic Gulf. Macedonia became a Roman province in 146AD, with Thessaloniki its major port and capital.
It was a major link on the Via Egnatia, which connected Asia Minor and Albania (and hence the Near East with the Balkans and Europe). (left the gate of the citadel)
St Paul preached here during the first century AD, but during the fourth century AD Christians were persecuted under the edict of the Roman emporer Galerius.
Christianity was given official standing, however, by the end of the same century after Theodosius the Great, who resided there, became a Christian.
During the sixth century AD, Thessaloniki became the second city in Eastern (Roman) Empire after Byzantium under the emporer Justinian.
Many churches were built in the city, which are among the most important cultural/architectural treasures of Thessaloniki.
Many restaurants line the seafront and tavernas are near the central market.