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Eleftherias Square

Eleftherias Square is the most historic square in the city. Many events that marked the city, took place here.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )


    1917 A fire destroyed a big part of the city and most of the buildings around the square. Later, with the implementation of the Hébrard plan, the square was enlarged.

    1930 The square was dug up in order for a post office to be built, but its construction never materialized.

    1936 A place of protest and political conflict during the interwar period, it is remembered for the bloody demonstration of May 1936, which resulted in 10 deaths of protesters.

    1942 On July 11 ("Black Saturday"), on a day that was a Jewish day of rest, and the same date when the revolution of the Young Turks errupted, the Nazis ordered the gathering of about 7,000 Jews.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)


    1867 Opened during the extension of the current Eleftheriou Venizelou Street.

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)


  4. Roman era (30 BC- 330 AC)


  5. Hellenistic era (322- 31 BC)


  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

Nowadays, Eleftherias (= Liberty) Square bears no sign of its past nor is it a proper square as it mostly has been used as a parking lot in recent years. There are plans, however, for a radical revamp, in order for the square to be used by pedestrians and recover its history. There are important, mainly eclectic buildings around it, with Stein Mansion being the most prominent one.

What I can't see

In the Ottoman period, it was called Olympou Square or Skala Square and was a disembarkation point for travellers of passenger ships, who reached the coast by small boats. Moreover, executions by hanging took place here in the 19th century. Thessalonians used to call it the “city’s living room”. Around the square, there were many cafes, patisseries including the famous “Floka”, which was a meeting place for Entente military personnel, during the First World War. The square was named after the Young Turks revolution on 11.07.1908, when the city was still under Ottoman rule, who stated the ideals of modern Turkey about equality, freedom and justice for all in a manifesto, written in 10 languages. The YoungTurks movement was based on the ideals of the French Revolution and was a continuation of the Neo-Ottoman movement, which was ideologically inspired by the Western European way of thinking. A few decades later, during the Nazi occupation of Greece, about 7000 Jews living in the city were forced to walk on their knees under the hot sun and wave their arms and were whipped and threatened they would be eaten by wolf-hounds if they tried to escape. Many died on the spot, others a few weeks after they had been sent to areas with malaria epidemics or in concentration camps. Approximately 50,000 Jews were exterminated by the Nazis only in Thessaloniki.

Bibliography

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

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., (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

Τzimou Κ., (χ.α.), Πλατεία Ελευθερίας: Το παρελθόν, το παρόν και το μέλλον της, [Eleftherias Square: Its past, present and future], Parallaxi,

http://www.parallaximag.gr/thessaloniki/plateia-eleytherias-parelthon-paron-kai-mellon-tis

Last visit 20/3/2014

Tomanas Κ., (1997), Οι πλατείες της Θεσσαλονίκης μέχρι το 1944, [The squares of Thessaloniki until 1944], Thessaloniki: Nisides

 

Fragkaki Syrett Ε., (2003), Το Κίνημα των Νεότουρκων, [The Young Turks Movement], in Ιστορία του Νέου Ελληνισμού, [History of Modern Hellenism], v.6, p.p. 41-50