The Historic Castles and Fortifications of Thessaloniki

The Historic Castles and Fortifications of Thessaloniki

castles Thessaloniki White Tower

By Maria Athanasopoulou

When it comes to ancient fortifications and castles Thessaloniki, the second largest metropolis in Greece, has more than its own fair share of famous examples.

The iconic White Tower is undoubtedly one of this beautiful historic city’s most famous landmarks. This splendidly preserved 15th century fortification – built on the foundation of an earlier 12th century structure – stands majestically overlooking the Aegean Sea, perched on the promenade like a knight of old as it safeguards the city’s harbor. (Hot Tip: It’s the perfect spot to grab a memorable group photo or a selfie!)

Castles Thessaloniki the white tower

White Tower (Photo: Maria Athanasopoulou)

Known officially for many years as the Lion Tower, it was granted a name change in 1890, and ever since has been known to visitors and locals alike as the White Tower. Built as a round-shaped structure with a height of nearly 34m and a diameter of some 23m, its interior is divided into six floors. Be sure to make the climb to the top floor where you’ll find a terrace from which you can admire the landscape around the tower and some of the best views of the city and the sea.

A visit usually includes a chance to catch one of the many exhibits that can be found here, including overviews of the building’s role in the city’s rich history, as well as displays regarding the region’s traditions and culture. This is definitely a not-to-miss attraction when in Thessaloniki, and is well worth taking time to explore each and every one of its many levels, as well as the surrounding area.

Ancient City Walls

Also worth exploring are the city’s ancient walls. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sights in Thessaloniki, its historic Byzantine walls – built on the ruins of earlier Roman fortifications – are one of the city’s most famous attractions.

Stretching some four kilometers in length (they once boasted a perimeter of eight kilometers), parts of the walls still reach their original height of between 10 to 12 meters. As you explore, you’ll be rewarded with a chance to discover beautiful gardens, old houses built in traditional architectural style, and numerous narrow cobbled streets, each of which provide a unique insight into this fascinating medieval town situated very close to the very heart of the modern city of Thessaloniki.


Maria Athanasopoulou is Founder of Respond on Demand, a company promoting Greek tourism to travel agents abroad and co-founder of Top Tourism , a non-profit company promoting Greek tourism and culture. She is also ambassador for Greece to the World Food Travel Association.