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Vardari (Dimokratias) Square/ Vardaris district

The Dimokratias Square has changed many names, but the people of Thessaloniki always call it "Vardari".

  1. Modern and Contemporary era (1912 - )

  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

You wouldn’t know Dimokratias (=Democracy) Square was a square, if you visited it these days. The construction works for the metro have completely changed the character of the area and the emblematic sculpture of King Constantine, the leader of the Greek army when the Turks surrendered the city to Greeks, is temporarily hidden deep into the south side of Egnatia Street. The area around Vardari Square is of interest also. To the west, we find Chinatown, while further down, towards the courts, we see the Ottoman central city building (Top Hane), built in 1546, when the Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent stayed in the city for a few months. Anaglyfou Tower, in the eastern part of the fortress, is Byzantine (862 AD).

What I can't see

It has changed many names (Myedan Yakik Manastir, Ioannis Metaxas, Vardar, Alexander Svolos, Dimokratias), but Thessalonians now call it Vardari. The name is also mentioned in literature and it is a corruption of the Hungarian “Bar Daria”, meaning “Great River”. The Byzantine Emperor Fokas had imprisoned Hungarians in Yannitsa, next to the Axios river, who referred to their prison by this name. The square was lively and busy for centuries. In Roman times, the Golden Gate was located there, one of the western entrances to the city, crossed by Via Reggia (current Egnatia Street). The Thessalonians tried to escape from the Golden Gate, during the conquest by the Saracens in 904. In the Ottoman period, there were many inns here, which no longer exist. Both during the Ottoman and interwar periods, it was a hub for shopping and leisure. Most of the city’s brothels were found here, with frequent violence between pimps, which often had tragic endings. On the corner of Moskov Street and Dimokratias Square was the former National Security building, where political prisoners from the civil war until the colonels’ junta were imprisoned, tortured and killed.


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

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

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

Toulas G., (2013), Ο χάρτης της πόλης: Πλατεία Βαρδαρίου, [City map: Vardari Square], Parallaxi

Last visit 26/10/2014