Castles of Greece


Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia

Castles of Thessaloniki

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Castles of Thessaloniki
Region > Prefecture:   Greek Map
Central Macedonia
Municipality > Town:
City of Thessaloniki
• Thessaloniki
Elevation ≈ 200 m 
Time of Construction   Origin
end of 4th century  
Castle Type   Condition
Walled City  
Relatively Good

The "Castles of Thessaloniki" is a complex of forts, towers and walls that were constructed over a period of many centuries to protect the city.

The White tower, the Eptapyrgion and the Vardari fortress which are parts of Thessaloniki fortifications are presented separately, in this site, as autonomous castles.


Thessaloniki was founded in 316 BC by Kassandros who married the sister of Alexander thw Great, Thessaloniki, and gave her name to the new city.

The city was fortified since its establishment, but the present walls date from the early Byzantine period, ca. 390, and incorporate parts of an earlier, late 3rd-century wall. The walls consist of the typical late Roman mixed construction of ashlar masonry alternating with bands of brick. The northern part of the walls adjoins the acropolis of the city, which formed a separate fortified enceinte, and within it lies another citadel, the Eptapyrgion.

Extensive rebuilding of the walls was carried out during the reign of Emperor Theodosius I the Great (late 4th-early 5th centuries) by Ormisdas, while frequent barbarian raids in the 5th and 6th centuries necessitated frequent reinforcement of the walls. The ease with which the Saracens captured the city in 904 through the defenders' negligence led to the walls being strengthened to resist the danger presented by the Bulgarians.

Major repair work was undertaken again in the 13th and 14th centuries by the Palaeologan dynasty both to the walls (e.g. the Anna Palaeologina Gate) and to the Eptapyrgion (Acropolis). Venetian indifference facilitated the capture of Thessalonike by the Turks (1430), who then paid great attention to the city's fortifications.

The Walls of Thessaloniki surrounded the city during the Middle Ages and until the late 19th century, when large parts of the walls, including the entire seaward section, were demolished as part of the Ottoman authorities' restructuring of Thessaloniki's urban fabric.

Structure, Fortification & Buildings

The walls of Thessaloniki were originally 7 km long. Unfortunately only 3 of them survive today.

Fortified at intervals with towers and gates, the wall was a double one, at least in the more level sections, the inner and outer wall having a distance of ten metres between them. There were no gates in the sea walls, while the artificial harbour built by Constantine the Great within the walls had a low wall around it facing the city and a breakwater, the Tzeremboulon, on its seaward side.

They were trapezoidal in layout with two arms running at the right angles up to the east and west sides of the triangular acropolis. The Walls were between 10 and 12 metres high consisting of stone blocks held together with sand based mortar and also incorporating pieces of marble from ancient monuments in the city. Communications between the city and the countryside took place through a number of gates. Only the gates of the north wall have survived down to the present day.

The fortifications of Thessaloniki were In a relatively good condition until the end of the nineteenth century when they were demolished to allow the city expand.


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Road map to Castles of Thessaloniki

Approach to the monument:
The walls and the towers are visible and accessible all over the city of Thessaloniki, especially in Ano Poli (Upper City). Only in Eptapyrgio and the White Tower the entrance is controlled.

Other castles around
Tower of Agios Vasileios
Lefkos Pyrgos
Fortress of Vardari
Tower of Vasilika