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Heptapyrgion (Yedi Kule)

Heptapyrgion is a polygonal fortress, which consists of ten towers.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

    1989 Heptapyrgion stops operating as a prison.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)

    1431 The fortress was occupied by Sultan Murad II.

    1890 Converted into a prison during this decade.

  3. Byzantine era (331 AC- 1453)

    During the mid-Byzantine period, 5 towers were built as part of the walls and in the 12th century, another 5 were added. During the Palaeologos dynasty, the fortress was completed and reinforced.

  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

The “Heptapyrgion” is a polygonal fortress, which consists of ten triangular and rectangular towers along with the perimeter and the central Π-shaped tower. The name Heptapyrgio (= 7 towers) implies that the fortress has 7 towers, which is not true. This name is established during the Ottoman period, because it looks like a homonymous fortress in Istanbul (Yedikule). It is located at the top of the Thessaloniki acropolis, which is adjoined with the north Byzantine walls. Its masonry is diverse due to its diachronic use. Although the fortress is a Byzantine monument, it underwent repairs and additions during the Ottoman era. More specifically, it had 4 construction phases: a) the early Christian or early Middle Byzantine (5 first towers, as part of the citadel wall), b) in the 12th century (5 old towers are renovated and 5 more are built – it becomes a closed fortress) c) the era of the Palaiologos dynasty (reinforcement) d) the Ottoman period (1431 reconstruction – becomes the headquarter of the Ottoman administration). At the entrance of the central tower, there are Byzantine built-in sculptures and a Turkish inscription about the seizure of the city by the Turks and the triumphant victory over the Franks as well as other “infidels”. It has been characterized as the earliest preserved Ottoman inscription in a fortress. The more recent buildings within the Heptapyrgio covered the needs of the notorious Yedi Kule prison. Walking around the area, one can also admire the view of the whole city, the Thermaic Gulf, Mount Olympus and Cedar Hill.

What I can't see

Research on the monument was carried out simultaneously with its restoration, bringing to surface several clues about interventions made in the place over time, with the most important being on the central tower, which was reconstructed by the Turks and wall-mounted Byzantine architectural segments and sculptures were added, as well as fragments of a Roman sarcophagus. In the Ottoman period, Heptapyrgion were the headquarters of the Turkish commander, but beginning from the late 19th century until 1989, it was converted into the famous Yedi Kule prison (in Turkish). Known for its inhumane conditions, Yedi Kule was a legendary place, whose reputation is preserved in the songs of “rebetiko” music. Apart from criminal prisoners, political prisoners were also held here during the Civil War (1946-1949) and the junta (1967-1974). It was also a place of execution, especially during the civil war. These days, it belongs to the Ministry of Culture and the area is used for research, cultural events and museum of the monument’s history.


Mazower M., (2006), Θεσσαλονίκη. Πόλη των φαντασμάτων, χριστιανοί, μουσουλμάνοι και εβραίοι 1430- 1950, [Salonica. City of ghosts], Athens: Alexandreia Publications

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 καιΣλάβων, [Thessaloniki, the presense of the absent, the heritage of Romans, Muslims, Jews, Doenme, Franks, Armenians and Slavs], Thessaloniki: Epikentro

Ζafeiris Ch., (2006), Θεσσαλονίκης τοπιογραφία, [Thessaloniki’s landscape], Thessaloniki: Epikentro

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