The White Tower is a historical monument in Thessaloniki, Greece. It stands as a testament to the city’s rich past, with its cylindrical stone structure reaching a height of 29 meters. This iconic building dates back to the 15th century and was constructed during the time when Thessaloniki was under Ottoman rule. Originally serving as a defensive structure, the tower has worn many hats throughout its existence, including as a fortress, a garrison, and even a prison. Located on the waterfront boulevard Nikis (Victory) Street, the White Tower offers excellent views of the Aegean Sea. Its prime location in the heart of Thessaloniki makes it easily accessible to locals and tourists. Over the years, the tower has become a symbolic representation of the city and is often the first point of attraction for many visitors to Thessaloniki.
Originally known as the “Tower of Blood” or “Red Tower” due to the massacre of the Janissaries in the 19th century, its name was changed to the White Tower after its whitewashing in 1890. Today, the tower functions as a museum dedicated to the history of Thessaloniki, housing exhibits that span the city’s Byzantine, Ottoman, and modern eras. For visitors arriving in Thessaloniki, reaching the White Tower is straightforward. From the Macedonia International Airport, one can take a taxi or use the airport shuttle to get to the tower, typically a journey of about 20 to 30 minutes. The tower is also within walking distance from the city’s central square, Aristotelous Square, and is conveniently located near bus stops and taxi stands, making it an easily accessible attraction for those exploring the city.
What is White Tower?
The White Tower in Thessaloniki is a prominent historical monument on the city’s waterfront in Greece. It is a cylindrical stone tower with a height of 29 meters (95 feet) and a diameter of about 23 meters (75 feet). The exact date of its construction is unknown, but it is believed to have been built sometime during the 15th century when Thessaloniki was under Ottoman rule.
Originally, the White Tower was a defensive structure and part of the city’s fortifications. Over the centuries, it has had various uses, including as a prison and even a place of execution during the Ottoman period. The name “White Tower” was given to it during the 19th century. Today, it is a symbol of Thessaloniki and houses a museum dedicated to the city’s history, showcasing artefacts and exhibits related to its rich past. Visitors can also enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Aegean Sea from the tower’s upper levels.
How did White Tower get its name?
The White Tower received its name in 1890 when a prisoner whitewashed it in exchange for his freedom. Before that, it was known by various names, including the “Tower of Blood” or “Red Tower”, due to a massacre of Janissaries ordered by Sultan Mahmud II in 1826, which led to countless deaths and earned it this grim reputation. In earlier centuries, it had been called the “Lions Tower,” the “Fortress of Kalamaria,” and the “Janissary Tower.” Despite its change in colour to a buff shade, the name “White Tower” has persisted.
Where is the White Tower Located in Thessaloniki?
The White Tower of Thessaloniki is located at Thessaloniki 546 21, Greece. It is a Thessaloniki landmark, which was an Ottoman fortress and former prison that now houses an interactive exhibition of the city’s history. It stands on the waterfront boulevard, Nikis (Victory) Street, overlooking the Aegean Sea.
What is White Tower Known For?
The White Tower is primarily known for its historical significance and iconic status in Thessaloniki. It is famous for its rich history as a defensive fortress, garrison, and prison during the Ottoman Empire. The tower gained notoriety as the “Tower of Blood” or “Red Tower” due to a massacre of imprisoned Janissaries in 1826, resulting in its grim reputation. In 1890, it was whitewashed by a convict in exchange for his freedom, giving rise to its current name, the White Tower. Today, it stands as a city symbol and houses a museum dedicated to the history of Thessaloniki, making it a popular tourist attraction known for its historical and cultural significance.
How to Get to White Tower in Thessaloniki?
Listed below are the different ways to get to the White Tower in Thessaloniki:
- From Thessaloniki Airport (Macedonia International Airport): Visitors can take a taxi or use the airport shuttle service to reach the White Tower. The distance between the airport and the tower is approximately 16 kilometres (10 miles), and the journey typically takes about 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Taxis are readily available at the airport, while the shuttle service may have scheduled stops at key locations in the city.
- From Thessaloniki Railway Station (Train Station): Travellers exiting the train station can head southeast on Monastiriou Street. The White Tower is approximately 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) away, and the walk should take about 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, visitors can take a taxi from the train station to the White Tower, with a travel time of approximately 5-10 minutes, depending on traffic.
- From Thessaloniki Bus Station (KTEL Macedonia): The KTEL Macedonia bus station is around 7 kilometres (4.3 miles) from the White Tower. Visitors can take a taxi from the bus station to reach the tower, typically requiring 15-20 minutes, depending on traffic.
- From the City Center (Aristotelous Square): The White Tower is within walking distance from Aristotelous Square, the central square in Thessaloniki. Travellers can simply head southeast on Nikis Avenue, reaching the White Tower on foot in approximately 10-15 minutes.
- By Taxi: Taxis are readily available throughout Thessaloniki, allowing travellers to flag down a taxi on the street or find one at designated taxi stands. Passengers can instruct the driver to go to the White Tower, with the driver taking them directly. Taxi fares are metered, and additional charges may apply for luggage or late-night rides.
- By Car Rental: Driving in Thessaloniki offers flexibility in reaching the White Tower. Most Thessaloniki car rental agencies have offices at Thessaloniki Airport and the city centre. Visitors can use GPS or maps to navigate from their location to the White Tower, following road signs leading to the city centre. Checking for nearby parking options in advance is advisable, as parking in the city centre can be challenging.
What to See in the White Tower Thessaloniki?
Listed below are the best things to see in the White Tower Thessaloniki:
- Ground Floor: The ground floor primarily serves as an entrance to the tower. Visitors begin their journey here and can get an initial sense of the tower’s historical architecture. Some exhibits introduce the history of the tower. Visitors will find informational plaques and maps to guide them through the rest of the tower’s floors. It’s the starting point for the audio-guided tours available for tourists.
- 1st Floor: The 1st Floor showcases Thessaloniki’s Byzantine history. Exhibits highlight Thessaloniki’s importance during the Byzantine Empire. Some artefacts and displays date back to this era. Informative panels offer context and information about each exhibit. Multimedia installations provide a more interactive experience for visitors.
- 2nd Floor: The 2nd Floor is dedicated to Thessaloniki during the Ottoman era. It displays the significant changes and developments that occurred in Thessaloniki under Ottoman rule. Visitors can see artefacts, models, and illustrations of the period. The displays provide insights into that time’s daily life, trade, and culture. Informative videos offer a more immersive understanding of the era.
- 3rd Floor: The 3rd Floor focuses on Thessaloniki’s modern era and its significance in the 20th century. Some exhibits discuss the city’s role during World War I and II. The floor also goes into Thessaloniki’s Jewish history and the tragic events of the Holocaust. Multimedia installations and artefacts complement the rich narrative of this period. Visitors can understand the resilience and transformation of Thessaloniki through turbulent times.
- 4th Floor: The 4th Floor offers a panoramic view of Thessaloniki. Large windows provide a vantage point to appreciate Thessaloniki’s urban layout. Visitors can spot significant landmarks and understand the city’s geographical setting. There are seating areas for visitors to relax and take in the view. Telescopes and informational panels help visitors identify and learn more about notable sites.
- 5th Floor: The 5th Floor is often used for temporary exhibitions. Depending on when one visits, there might be contemporary art, historical displays, or cultural exhibits. The exhibits change periodically, making each visit unique. Information on the current exhibit is usually available on the ground floor or on the tower’s official website. The floor also offers some city views, though not as panoramic as the 4th floor.
- 6th Floor: The 6th Floor is primarily a transitional space leading to the balcony. Visitors ascend to this floor in preparation for the tower’s pinnacle experience. Some informational plaques offer context for what awaits at the top. A narrow staircase takes visitors up to the balcony. It’s advised to be cautious when climbing and going down due to the tower’s ancient architecture.
- Balcony: The balcony offers the most breathtaking views of Thessaloniki. Overlooking the Aegean Sea, visitors get a 360-degree panorama of the city. It’s the highest point in the tower and a favourite spot for photography. The sea breeze and view make it a refreshing culmination of the tower tour. There are protective barriers for safety, and visitors should remain cautious while navigating the space.
How Far is White Tower from the Airport?
The distance between Thessaloniki Airport (Macedonia International Airport) and the White Tower in Thessaloniki is approximately 16 kilometres (10 miles) by road. The travel time typically ranges from 20 to 30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions and the chosen route. Visitors can reach the White Tower from the airport through different modes of transportation, which provide convenient options to the White Tower.
How Much is the entry cost for the White Tower in Thessaloniki?
The entrance fee for the White Tower in Thessaloniki varies based on visitor categories. The fee is approximately 2 Euros for senior citizens and students, while it is around 3 Euros for other visitors. This fee is collected to support the maintenance and upkeep of the historical monument, allowing visitors to explore its exhibits and enjoy panoramic views from the tower.
What are the Nearest Hotels in the White Tower of Thessaloniki?
Listed below are the nearest hotels in the White Tower of Thessaloniki:
- Makedonia Palace: Makedonia Palace is one of the nearest hotels to the White Tower within walking distance. It offers luxurious amenities like an outdoor pool, spa, fitness centre, and fine dining restaurants. It is approximately 350 meters (0.2 miles) away from the White Tower. Average prices per night typically range from 120 to 200 Euros, depending on room type and season.
- The Modernist Thessaloniki: The Modernist Thessaloniki features modern design and amenities, including a rooftop bar with city views. It is approximately 500 meters (0.3 miles) away from the White Tower. Prices per night generally range from 100 to 150 Euros.
- Electra Palace Thessaloniki: Electra Palace Thessaloniki is a waterfront hotel near the White Tower. It has a rooftop restaurant, spa, and rooms with sea views. It is about 400 meters (0.25 miles) from the White Tower and usually varies between 130 and 180 Euros per night.
- Daios Luxury Living: Daios Luxury Living is a boutique hotel that offers luxurious rooms, a stylish bar, and proximity to the seafront, with an average price per night typically ranging from 150 to 220 Euros. It is approximately 350 meters (0.2 miles) away from the White Tower.
- The Excelsior: The Excelsior is situated in the heart of Thessaloniki, about 600 meters (0.37 miles) from the White Tower. It features elegant rooms, a restaurant, and a central location. Average prices per night generally range from 100 to 160 Euros.
- Colors Urban Hotel: Colors Urban Hotel is one of the budget-friendly Thessaloniki hotels. It offers comfortable rooms and a convenient location. It is 600 meters (0.37 miles) from the White Tower, with prices per night ranging from 50 to 90 Euros, making it a more affordable choice for travellers.
What are the Nearest Restaurants in the White Tower of Thessaloniki?
Listed below are the nearest restaurants in the White Tower of Thessaloniki:
- Paolo’s B-Ice Cream: Paolo’s B-Ice Cream is a nearby dessert spot offering a variety of ice cream flavours. It’s a short walk from the White Tower, approximately 250 meters (0.15 miles) away. Some of its dishes include a wide range of ice cream flavours, gelato, and sorbet. Prices for ice cream generally start at around 2 to 3 Euros per scoop, making it a sweet and affordable treat for visitors.
- Oval Bistronomy: Oval Bistronomy is a restaurant that offers Mediterranean cuisine with a modern twist. Its notable dishes include seafood, grilled meats, and creative salads. It is approximately 400 meters (0.25 miles) from the White Tower, with prices ranging from 15 to 30 Euros per person, depending on the menu selection.
- Thermaikos Garden: Thermaikos Garden is a restaurant with Mediterranean and Greek cuisine. It’s within walking distance of the White Tower, located approximately 300 meters (0.18 miles) away. Its menu includes seafood, grilled meats, and traditional Greek appetisers. Prices usually range from 12 to 25 Euros per person.
- Famigliano: Famigliano is an Italian Thessaloniki restaurant situated near the White Tower. It specialises in Italian pasta dishes, pizzas, and desserts. It is about 350 meters (0.2 miles) away from the White Tower. It has various pasta dishes, wood-fired pizzas, and tiramisu. Prices range from 10 to 20 Euros per person.
- Savvikos: Savvikos is a local eatery that serves traditional Greek dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, and Greek salads. It is 400 meters (0.25 miles) from the White Tower, serving grilled meats, fresh seafood, and Greek meze (appetisers). It is around 10 to 25 Euros per person, providing a taste of authentic Greek flavours at various price points.
When is the Best Time to Visit the White Tower in Thessaloniki?
The best time to visit Thessaloniki is during the spring and early autumn, specifically from April to June and September to October. This period offers the most pleasant weather for outdoor exploration. During spring, temperatures are mild, and the city’s gardens and green spaces are in full bloom, creating a lovely backdrop for visitors. Likewise, early autumn brings comfortable temperatures, ideal for leisurely walks around the tower and enjoying the waterfront views. These seasons avoid the extreme heat of summer and the potential for winter rains, making it a more comfortable and enjoyable experience for tourists. Furthermore, visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and early autumn allows travellers to avoid the peak summer tourist crowds. Thessaloniki can become quite crowded with tourists during July and August, which may lead to longer lines and wait times at the White Tower and other attractions.
Are there Parking Spots in the White Tower?
Yes, there are parking spots near the White Tower, but parking availability can be limited and challenging due to the tower’s location in the city centre. The area surrounding the White Tower is densely populated and features a mix of historic sites, restaurants, and shops, which can lead to high demand for parking spaces. Visitors may find on-street parking, paid parking lots, and nearby parking garages available, but it’s advisable to arrive early, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure a parking spot. Additionally, using public transportation or walking may be more convenient for those who wish to avoid parking difficulties in the city centre.