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Byzantine Walls

Their construction began during the Hellenistic period but the final structure (Byzantine Walls) dates to the 4th century AD.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )


    1970 From 1970 onwards, rescue operations and restorations began, intensified from 1996 onwards thanks to funding from European programs.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)


    1700 Dapper records 40 towers. A century later, the number had dropped significantly.

    1869 From 1869 to 1874 the coastal walls were gradually demolished and by the beginning of the 20th century parts of both the western and eastern walls were removed.

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)


    Took their final form at the end of the 4th century AD.

    904 AD Τhe Saracens attacked the city and caused severe damage to the walls.

    1342 The Zealots tortured and gave the Hesychasts a horrible death, by throwing them from the walls.

    1355 Next to the eastern "Portara", the gate of Empress Anna Palaiologina was opened.

  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)


    3rd century AD: The walls were reinforced and the Golden Gate was integrated into the western walls.

  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)


    315- 316 BC Founding of Thessaloniki by Kassandros. Creation of a fortified enclosure.

  6. Classical era (478-323 BC)


  7. Archaic era (800-479 BC)


  8. Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)


  9. Prehistory (-1100 BC)


What I can see

The Byzantine Walls of Thessaloniki, one of its most prominent monuments, have survived in good condition. Their construction began during the Hellenistic period but the main structure dates to the 4th century AD, even though the walls continued being maintained and built during subsequent centuries. The surviving parts are divided into an eastern, a northern and a western section and consist of stone, bricks, adobes with mortar and marble-walled parts of Hellenistic and Roman monuments. The walls’ floor plans reveal a useful alternation of rectangular towers and defensive triangular brackets especially at the lowland points where they were most vulnerable to invasion. At the northern wall, the enclosure of its acropolis is adjoined, while at the eastern wall, one can see the Tower of Hormisdas (probably a commander during Emperor Theodosius’ reign) with an inscription that boasted his fortification of a city with “impregnable walls”.

What I can't see

The walls have a total length of 8 km but nowadays, what remains is 4.3 km in length, after the biggest part of the eastern walls was demolished in 1873 and in 1902 during the Ottoman period, together with those on the seafront. The demolition was part of the expansion, landscaping and Europeanization of the city. Standing at a height of 10-12 metres, although in some places they reach 15m., these walls had many gates and were more than just the city’s defence line, but also a distinct boundary between the “asty” (= city) and the countryside. To the west, towards Vardaris Square, we find Litaia Gate, the city’s second most central gate and close by, the Golden Gate, the city’s main entrance, where the city’s main street “Via Regia” (the current Egnatia street) started. During Hellenistic and Roman times, the inner side of the western wall was the religious centre of the city. Three more gates existed in the eastern walls: the New Golden Gate, the Asomaton Gate and the Roma Gate.

Bibliography

Anastasiadou Μ., (2008), Θεσσαλονίκη 1830-1912, η μητρόπολη στην εποχή των οθωμανικών μεταρρυθμίσεων, [Thessaloniki 1830-1912, the metropolis in the era of Ottoman reforms] ESTIA

Zafeiris Ch., (1997), Θεσσαλονίκης Εγκόλπιον, ιστορία, πολιτισμός, η πόλη σήμερα, γεύσεις, μουσεία, μνημεία, διαδρομές, [Thessaloniki Handbook, history, culture, the city today, flavours, museums, routes], Athens: Exantas

Ζafeiris Ch., (2014), Θεσσαλονίκη, η παρουσία των απόντων, η κληρονομιά Ρωμαίων, Μουσουλμάνων, Εβραίων, Ντονμέδων, Φράγκων, Αρμενίων και Σλάβων, [Thessaloniki, the presense of the absent, the heritage of Romans, Muslims, Jews, Doenme, Franks, Armenians and Slavs], Thessaloniki: Epikentro

Kourkoutidou- Nikolaidou E., Tourta A., (1997), Περίπατοι στη Βυζαντινή Θεσσαλονίκη, [Walks in the Byzantine Thessaloniki], Athens: Kapon publications

Serefas S., Petridis P., (2012), Εδώ: Τόποι βίας στη Θεσσαλονίκη, [Here: Places of violence in Thessaloniki], Agra

Tzevreni S., (2019), Τα τείχη της Θεσσαλονίκης, [The Walls of Thessaloniki], in Aggelkou Ε. (ed.), Από τα Μακεδονικά στα Θεσσαλικά Τέμπη: από τη Ρεντίνα στη Βελίκα, [From Macedonian and Thessalian Tempi: From Rentina tou Velika], 49-61.

Tziolas, Α., (ed.), (2018) Θεσσαλονίκη! Τα τείχη σου! [Thessaloniki! Your Walls!], in E-communication, Νο. 1.

https://www.academia.edu/40357896/%CE%A0%CE%95%CE%A1%CE%99%CE%9F%CE%94%CE%99%CE%9A%CE%9F_e_%CE%95%CE%A0%CE%99%CE%9A%CE%9F%CE%99%CE%9D%CE%A9%CE%9D%CE%99%CE%91_%CE%98%CE%95%CE%A3%CE%A3%CE%91%CE%9B%CE%9F%CE%9D%CE%99%CE%9A%CE%97_%CE%A4%CE%B1_%CF%84%CE%B5%CE%AF%CF%87%CE%B7_%CF%83%CE%BF%CF%85_

Last visit 11/5/2022