We started with a trek to the Roman forum, an open square that would have been at the centre of the city in antiquity where there would have been temporary markets set up for bartering. The economic nature of the site prompted a student presentation on the current economic crisis in Greece by Catherine. She gave an extensive recent history that opened our eyes to the deeper causes of the crisis.
We continued our walk to the site of the tomb and church of Aghios Dimitrios, a local saint and martyr. Because the church is active, we passed through a Greek Orthodox service as we made our way down to the crypt. Even underground, we could hear the chanting that was taking place above our heads. We saw in the museum underground, a stone slab with Arabic script from the Ottoman period which indicated that the church was once utilized as a mosque.
Pavithra gave her presentation on Sephardic Jews at our next stop at the Jewish Museum of Thessaloniki. It was stirring to see all of the artifacts that remained from the elimination of what was the largest and most concentrated Jewish community outside of mordern-day Israel. The gravestones we saw told the stories of the customs and lives of a people connected closely to their ancestors. The cemetery which was destroyed a few years before nearly all the Jews in Thessaloniki was an omen of the eventual destruction that was to occur shortly after.
We finished the day with a walk up to the Upper city where we saw the oldest church in Thessaloniki, and arguably Greece. Morphia (our kind guide of the church) gave us details of the truly beautiful and unique mosaic depicting Christ and the four Evangelicals, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We were impressed at its excellent condition considering that it has endured for approximately 1600 years! We were happy to have seen so much of the city in just one day that wrapped up our stay in Thessaloniki quite nicely!
Sarah, Mädchen and Hadley