“Those who explore Thessaloniki do not encounter any easy extravaganza,” Greek writer and painter Nikos Gavriil Pentzikis has written. I subscribe to this point of view. Here, then, is a look at Thessaloniki, offered in just a few words, like musical notes; two brief moments concerning two points on the horizon, both in terms of landscape and time.
The first are the small Byzantine baths, located on the outskirts of the Upper Town (Ano Poli), among apartment blocks. It was first opened to the public this year, as part of the 5th Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art. This is not a work of monumental architecture but one of common Byzantine civilization architecture. Now restored (they are the only public Byzantine baths preserved in the city), you can hear the sound of water flowing along the structure’s clean marble.
At the other end of the historic center, close to the seafront and the White Tower (Lefkos Pyrgos), a humongous step forward in time is made with a visit to the city’s most modern sculpture gallery – and only sculpture park – featuring works by Klearhos Loukopoulos, Kostas Koulentianos, Stephen Antonakos, Mihalis Katzourakis, Filolaos Tloupas, Alex Mylonas, and Giorgos Zongolopoulos. The courtyard of the Macedonian Museum of Contemporary Art was re-established as a public space long before its “Umbrellas”, one of Zongolopoulos’s best-known works, became a landmark.
* Thouli Misirloglou is an art historian and curator of exhibitions and art collections.
The most impressive monuments are hidden amid the neighborhoods, opposite narrow balconies with laundry hung to dry. The most beautiful spots are those where you can relax.