White Tower in Thessaloniki | The Symbol of the Bride of Thermaikos Gulf
Updated: May 7
When Greeks and many foreigners talk about Thessaloniki, their minds automatically go to the city's emblematic monument, the White Tower. This magnificent monument, which stands on its beach, in front of the Thermaic Gulf, with a diameter of 22.70 meters, a height of 33.90 meters and 6 floors, is one of the most valuable brand names in the world. The visitor can, in addition to a simple visit to the Tower, take a sail in the Gulf with a touristic boat to enjoy the monument with a view to the old town and the fortresses at the top of its hill. Besides, the White Tower can be an interesting starting point for a city tour to the important monuments of Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman and Modern times.
The White Tower is a work of Ottoman fortification style built by Venetian craftsmen. The exact date of its construction is unfortunately not known. It is certain, however, that it was built after 1430, when the fall of Constantinople took place, by the order of the Ottoman Sultan Murat II. There is good chance that the White Tower is the work of the great Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, because a similar tower of the architect exists in Avlona, Albania.
According to English records, the original name of the Tower was Tower of the Lion. In the 17th century, the Tower was unofficially called the Fortress of Kalamaria and the Tower of the Janissaries. Sultan Abdul Hamid II painted it white and called it the White Tower when he was informed that people were calling it the Tower of Blood. At the White Tower, the Greeks raised in 1912 the flag of freedom, the mast of which came from a mast-loot of the Ottoman battleship Feth-i-Bulend, sunk by Admiral Votsis.
Its uses have been many and varied: 1) The housing, during the First World War, of a Transfer Center. 2) The housing, in 1916, of a collection of antiquities. 3) Its use after 1983 by the city's air defense. 4) Its use as a Meteorological Laboratory by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. 5) Its use by the Naval Scout system. 6) Its use in the period 1983-85 by the city to celebrate the 2.500 years since its founding. 7) The housing from 1985 until 1994 of the permanent exhibition on the history of art in Thessaloniki. 8) The housing in 2001 of the exhibition on the daily life of the Byzantine era. 9) From 2006 until today, it operates as a permanent museum of the city, housing the permanent exhibition for its historical route. The monument is one of the ten most visited monuments in Greece with thousands of visitors every year from around the world. Its architecture and location (where the old town ends and the new town begins) make it the most important attraction of Greece's 2nd largest city.