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The Column of the Snakes

In the Ottoman period, the column of the snakes was used as a lighting column, later as an oil lamp, gas lamp, electric light, and recently as a phone column.

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

    1917 Until then, it was located in the then Ofeon Square. After the fire of 1917, the stairs were covered due to the road's elevation.

    1975 It was moved to widen the road.

  2. Ottoman era (1453- 1912)

  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

The Byzantines ignored it, the Turks respected it by attributing supernatural properties to it, and today it is entirely ignored by everyone except for graffiti writers. Although it has been vandalised and one easily simply bumps into it by chance, its unknown history makes it invisible. It may, however, be a monument from the Roman period, on which there was probably an imperial statue. Only a part of the monument is visible on the surface, because the construction of the road has covered its stairs.

What I can't see

In the Ottoman period, it was used as a lighting column, later as an oil lamp, gas lamp, electric light, and recently as a phone column. On the edge of the base, which is now located below the street level, used to be a public fountain with a trough. When the close-by lighting factory burned down, the column survived. The urban myth, to which it owes its name, says that in the 18th century the area attracted snakes because –according to one version- the column also served as a gallows and the blood attracted snakes. The inhabitants initially called a rabbi, who failed to drive them away. Then, a hodja exorcist followed, managing to oust them with his magic. They called it Yilan Mermeri, which (in Turkish) means the marble of the snake, and so the district was named. According to the traveler Cavazza (1541), this is an indication that the Muslim quarter consisted of Islamized natives (rather than other settlers), as they had long known the legend. The column has been significantly altered, compared to its original form and has lost its architectural and artistic value. However, its existence reminds us that the contact with the city is an ongoing learning process.


  • Address: Ag. Dimitriou St.


Grigoriou A.H., Hekimoglou E., (ed), (2008), Η Θεσσαλονίκη των περιηγητών 1430- 1930, [Thessaloniki of Travellers, 1430- 1930], Militos Publication, Society for Macedonian Studies

Field observation by scientific editors

Tzimou Κ., (2013), Αστικοί μύθοι: η στήλη των όφεων, [Urban legends: the column of the snakes], Parallaxi,

Last visit: 20/8/2015

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