Thessaloniki was founded in 316 BC in the northern inlet of the Aegean Sea by the Macedonian king Cassander, who gave the city the name of his wife, sister of Alexander the Great. The area had many advantages as a termination point of prehistoric sea routes and as a starting point of land, the most important of which was the natural passage Axios-Morava -valleys of Central Europe, through which the culture of farmers met around the 7th millennium BC with the hunters’ culture. So there was already an intense building activity and Thracians, Phrygians, Mygdones, Paeonians, Eretrians, Athenians, shared the coastline of Thermaic Gulf up to the slopes of Mount Olympus, even before the establishment of the city. But also the new urban centre we will understand it better if we perceive it “not only as a city, but also as a rural area from Axios to Angelochori”, the point that closes the southeast bay.
The continuous presence for 2,330 years of Thessaloniki, as a large coastal city, shows that Cassander was a visionary founder. The foundation has been widely important, as it has been the third, the European point, in the Hellenistic triangle Alexandria (332 BC), Antioch (330 BC), Thessaloniki (316 BC), namely Africa, Asia, Europe, where inside and around that point the idea of universality, the synthesis of cultures originated.
The current Thessaloniki is the product of five cultures, the traces of which are visible in the big city: the Greek that founded the city with a wise urban planning; the Roman which expanded it and left the largest, after Rome, Agora (Forum) and the oldest, standing at 31 meters monument, the Rotunda; the Byzantine which broadened the walls within which built more than 60 churches –the pre-Christian basilicas of global significance and the jewels of Byzantine church architecture-illustrated with mosaics and murals; the Ottoman with its mosques and public buildings, which resolved in the city to come out of its walls and spread to the east; the modern Greek with its modern redesign and rebuild after the devastating fire of 1917. In the modern city is also imprinted the pervasive eclecticism of the buildings of the early 20th century of the cosmopolitan Jewish culture. A huge mosaic compose these traces, the mosaic of universality of a welcoming city. This universality was its strong warp; due to that the city accomplished to assimilate foreign elements and weave the cloth a rich collective life.