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Thessaloniki Northern Greece Page 3

Aristotle Square in ThessalonikiPlatia Aristotelus (right), the main square, has many cafes.It was Sultan Murad who gave the city the name Salonika (Selanik in Turkish) after it fell to the Ottomans in 1430.

The city enjoyed prosperity under Ottoman rule, enhanced by the community of 20,000 Sephardic Jews who had been among those welcomed by Sultan Beyazit II in 1493, after the expulsion of non-Christians from Spain and Portugal and who were skilled as merchants (dominating the sailing, shipping and chandlery trades) as well as craftsmen skilled in working with precious stones, wool and silk.

They spoke a form of Castilian Spanish written in Hebrew script called Ladino. Along with the Sephardim were 'Romaniot' Jews, who spoke Greek and who had been in Greece since Hellenistic times (but termed 'Romaniot' later by the Romans). By the early twentieth century the Jewish population of Thessaloniki numbered around 65,000--nearly half of the population at that time.

communications towerclick to see larger map MacedoniaThessaloniki was allowed much autonomy under the Ottomans and its economy was further improved with the building of the railway to central Europe in 1887, and construction of a new harbor in 1897-1903. Kemal Attaturk (1881-1938) the first president of the new Turkish Republic founded after World War I, was born in Thessaloniki. Near the eastern edge of Kastra is the house where he was born, behind the Turkish consulate at Apostolou Pavlou 17.

A small Kemal Attaturk museum is housed there (open daily 10am to 5pm;free), but you have to go to the consulate for permission, presenting your passport, due to local anti-Turkish sentiment.

The city suffered four disastrous fires --in 1890, 1898, 1910, and 1917-the last of which left 80,000 homeless and required massive rebuilding.

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