“Ios is a party island.” “There is nothing to see or do on Ios.” “Oh yeah, Ios: that’s where my friends went to lose their virginity.” Friends, I am going to tell you how to […]
filed by Antoine de GRANT If you thought politics in the Holy Land were complicated, how about giving Israeli television a whirl? An American in Israel flipping on the TV at any given moment is […]
Here you go!
Met these Americans at the airport in Athens. Said Santorini was nice but they couldn’t turn around for fear of having their eyes poked out by someone’s selfie stick. So I say to them maybe […]
September in Athens can be toasty indeed, I am rapidly finding out. Every day I start with a mental checklist of things I want to do: the Gaultier exhibit at the Benaki, the store […]
This is gonna be a short post because I’m having to type with one hand—the other having just been coated with the Greek equivalent of Krazy Glue (do not attempt to fix broken sunglasses by […]
There’s something about Paris, and it isn’t the Eiffel Tower. The hold this city has had on the hearts (and purse strings) of generations of Americans is largely unprecedented: London may be bubbling with more […]
Crete is an island as unnerving and necessary as love. Tough though it can be come summertime to dodge the heat-seeking hordes from the north, it’s still a worthwhile place to while a way a […]
Admit it: you thought all the ruins were in Athens. You thought that Thessaloniki — if you thought about it at all — was a place where there was a lot of good stuff but not much in the way of ancient relics, right? Wrong!
Much as you might like to party like Paris Hilton on a Greek island all summer, you know that there is more to see in Greece than Mykonos. Athens has cultural wealth and sun to spare, but the pull of Thessaloniki is something different. The Greek capital sometimes succumbs to a touristy vibe that is altogether absent in Greece’s second city, just 190 miles to the north. That makes Thessaloniki, which is the capital of Greek Macedonia and named for the half-sister of Alexander the Great, something of a secret.
The city’s past is denser and more layered than a flourless dark chocolate cake and sometimes as bittersweet: Students of Second World War history will recall Thessaloniki as a place whose large Jewish population was decimated by the Nazis. Did you know that this city was home to the largest Jewish cemetery in the Mediterranean until the Nazis destroyed it? It may not seem easy to destroy 300,000 tombstones, but the Germans made quick work of that — and that was the “nice” part. In 1943, virtually the entire Jewish population of Thessaloniki, numbering 46,091, was hauled off to Auschwitz in cattle cars — a couple of which are preserved on the periphery of the city’s train station. There were 19 meticulously organized transfers. Only 1,950 Jews would return to the city of whose fabric their community had been a vital part for more than 21 centuries.
In certain periods in time, it was the one of the highest populations in the city, especially after 1492. The first Jews came around 140 B.C. from Alexandria, the so-called Romaniote Jews. The arrival of almost 20,000 Jewish newcomers deported from Spain, though, was what altered the face of the city. Through their skills and abilities, the (‘Sephardites’) revived the wounded Thessaloniki after its conquest by the Ottomans and contributed to its commercial ascent. In 1870, the 50,000 Jewish residents constituted 56 percent of the Thessalonian population, while in 1941, 36 synagogues were fully functioning. The city’s oldest synagogue burned in the 1917 fire that leveled much of the historic center. The Nazis destroyed all the others save one, the Monastirioton Synagogue, which was built in 1927 and has been beautifully restored. I went inside to take a peek: very light and bright.
The skinny on Colors, the best urban boutique hotel in Thessaloniki, Greece.
My principal fear is that it will never be as good as the first time. True, I never intended to fly Ryanair, the Irish low-cost carrier that has generated more passenger horror stories than perhaps any […]