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The City

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Thessaloniki was founded in 315 BC by King Cassander, who named the new city after his wife Thessalonike, a half-sister of Alexander the Great. Thessaloniki developed during Roman times as an important trade centre located on the Via Egnatia, the Roman road which facilitated trade between Europe and Asia. After the separation of the Roman Empire in 379 AD, Thessaloniki became the second most important centre of the Byzantine Empire, second only to Constantinople. Thessaloniki's historic churches, including the basilica of 'Hagia Sophia' (one of several UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the city) are among the most important monuments of the byzantine civilization in the world. During the 12th century, Thessaloniki underwent an important economic growth but in 1204, the city passed under Venetian rule when Constantinople was invaded by the Fourth Crusade. Venice held the city until it was captured by the Ottomans in 1430. The White Tower, monument-symbol on the waterfornt of the city, dates from this period. During the Ottoman times, the city's Jewish population grew, establishing Thessaloniki as the largest Jewish city in the world. During the First Balkan War, the Ottoman garrison surrendered Thessaloniki to the Greek Army, on the 26th of October 1912. On August 5, 1917, most of the city was destroyed by a single fire. The city's reconstruction was accomplished a few years later by French architect and archeologist Ernest Hebrard who transformed the city into a modern European metropolis.

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Today, Thessaloniki is the second-largest city in Greece with a population of more than one million inhabitants in 2011. Located on the Thermaic Gulf, at the northwest corner of the Aegean Sea, Thessaloniki is a major economic centre and a significant transportation hub for Greece and southeastern Europe, notably through its Port. National Geographic Magazine included Thessaloniki in its top tourist destinations worldwide for 2013 while in 2014, Financial Times FDI magazine declared Thessaloniki as the best mid-sized European city of the future for human capital and lifestyle. The city also forms one of the largest student centres in Southeastern Europe and is host to the largest student population in Greece.

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