The City Αbove

Ano Poli, the ‘terrace’ of Thessaloniki, is full of history and endless views.

Starting from the historic church of Agios Dimitrios, on the street of the same name, we head north uphill to see a different and often overlooked side of Thessaloniki. The city is a rapidly shifting urban mosaic of people, culture, architecture, nightlife and food.

Our destination, the fortified Ano Poli (upper town), is where time stands still. This historic Ottoman quarter is the only one to have survived the 1917 fire that devastated the city. As we navigate its labyrinth of narrow alleyways and unexpected dead-ends, a kaleidoscopic image of our surroundings begins to form: a mix of history with tradition and emotion. It encompasses the cobblestoned streets, the old Macedonian and Ottoman-style mansions, the houses and hovels, the flower-filled courtyards, the discourse among neighbours, and the aromas of food in the air. Onwards and upwards, we press.

The Ano Poli is enclosed within the ancient city walls. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Byzantine-era fortifications were erected to shield inhabitants and property from enemy attack. Today, the walls bear the weight of those they’ve sheltered and shelter still. One can imagine these fortifications having eavesdropped on their wards throughout history.

Among these are the Heptapyrgion (seven-towered) Fortress, the Trigonio Tower, the Gardens of the Pasha, the church of Agios Nikolaos Orphanos (the orphan), the church of Hosios David, and the Vlatadon Monastery. You can rest in one of the many cafés and taverns of the area and enjoy food, overlooking the city.