By crossing Egnatia Street, one realizes that is witnessing a historical and architectural timeline.
Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )
Ottoman era (1453- 1912)
Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)
Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)
Most likely opened during the Roman period, although the possibility that it was opened in the Hellenistic period exists and excavations never reached deep enough to determine the exact period. The metro construction works may finally reveal the answer to this question.
Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)
Classical era (478-323 BC)
Archaic era (800-479 BC)
Geometric era (-1100- 800 BC)
Prehistory (-1100 BC)
What I can see
Egnatia Street (by Gnaios Egnatios) is the city’s main avenue. It cuts through the city centre, offering a view of its social stratification and contradictions, evidenced in the co-existence of historic monuments with cheap hotels and spice shops with haute couture boutiques. Despite it being the city’s most central street, the presence of sheet-irons for the Metro construction works, which have been going on for years and have increased traffic, impede access to neighbouring markets. Nevertheless, the street is still an interesting walk with historical interest. Crossing it, one realizes that he is witnessing a historical and architectural timeline. One can see Roman antiquities (e.g. Galerius Arch, fountains), Byzantine and Ottoman period churches (e.g. churches of Ypapanti of Christ, Metamorfosi tou Sotiros, Agios Athanasios, Our Lady Chalkeon, Panagouda), Ottoman monuments (e.g. Sintrivani Square, Hamza Bey Mosque, Bey Hamam), modern landmarks (e.g. Vardaris Square), eclectic architecture (e.g. Upper Aristotle Square, Great Britain, Minerva-Premier, Moderne, Illisia and Vienna hotels), modern and contemporary architecture and history (e.g. AUTH, TIF, Dikastirion Square). Finally, although Egnatia does not have a lot of graffiti, it has interesting frescoes murals.
What I can't see
The Roman Via Egnatia (Egnatia St) used to start in Rome as an extension of the Via Traiana and ended in the Hellespont, thus uniting East and West. This contributed to the fact that Thessaloniki was a “co-capital” during the Roman period, then a “co- reigning” city of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires and is the present “co-capital” of Greece. This is why the current 670 km highway, which connects the Ionian Sea with the Turkish border, is called Egnatia Street. Egnatia is the first road axis (in the contemporary sense), that is over 2000 years old. During the 3rd century AD (the start of the city’s era of great prosperity), it once again became a street of strategic importance that flourished for being a milestone on the way to the East. This prosperity can be seen in the luxurious public works, the embellishments and its many sarcophagi, honorary altars and private portraits. These findings illuminate details of the social life of that period, such as the intermarriage between Greeks, Romans and Jews. Nowadays, unfortunately, we don’t have the opportunity to admire the Arch of Galerius (Kamara) as a whole, or the arch of the Greek Orthodox community in Sintrivani Square, in honour of Sultan Mohammed Resat the 5th which was constructed a year before the city’s annexation by Greece.
Anastasiadis G., Hekimoglou E., (2000), Όταν η Θεσσαλονίκη μπήκε στον 20ο αιώνα, τα διακόσια σημαντικότερα γεγονότα που συνέβησαν στην πόλη από το 1900 ως το 1910, [When Thessaloniki entered the 20th century, the two hundred most important incidents of the city between 1900- 1910], Thessaloniki: University Studio Press
Egnatia Odos, (2012), Η ταυτότητα του έργου, [The project’s identity]
Last visit 8/10/2014
Field observation of scientific editors
Ζafeiris Ch., (2006), Θεσσαλονίκης τοπιογραφία, [Thessaloniki’s landscape], Thessaloniki: Epikentro
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