Thessaloniki is one of the most historical cities of Greece. This means that it is also a city where great tragedies took place, those clutch events shaped this magnificent city as we know it today and though Thessaloniki is widely known for its beauty and the carefree mentality of its residents, it has also a dark story to tell its visitors, a fascinating tale of war conflicts, bloodshed and persecutions.That is why dark tourism sites in Thessaloniki attract millions of people every year.
Dark tourism also known as grief tourism is defined as the kind of tourism that involves visiting places that are historically interwoven with death and tragedy. The reasons behind the popularity of dark tourism sites are associated with the historical value of those places. Sometimes those visits are also connected with heritage aspects such as national or family collective memories. In this article, you will discover which are the most important dark tourism sites in Thessaloniki, that you should definitely consider to visit.
Zeitenlik Cemetery in west Thessaloniki is the largest military cemetery of the country, containing the graves for over 20.000 soldiers that fought during World War I and died in battles on the Thessaloniki Front. The cemetery is divided into four sectors. The Serbian, the French, the Italian and the British. Each sector has taken its name from the nationality of the soldiers Buried in it. The Serbian Sector also contains the graves of Russian and Bulgarian soldiers. The land of the cemetery was bought from the Greek Government and it was given to the Governments of the allied countries, which are also responsible for its preservation.
In the cemetery there are built a lot of monuments to honor the dead soldiers. The most impressive of them is this in the Serbian sector, which is actually an ossuary containing the remnants of 5.500 Serbian Soldiers, most of them being boys who were taken from school to fight in the war. Another worth visiting site of the cemetery is the interactive museum of the French sector. The visitors of the museum have the chance use QR codes in order to have access to French military & war documents translated in Greek, Serbian and English. Among the war exhibits of the museum, there are also personal objects of the French soldiers associated with their everyday life in Thessaloniki. Finally, in the museum there is also projected a documentary about World War Ι. The Necropolis of Zeitenlik is among the most visited dark tourism sites in Thessaloniki due to its great historical value.
Jewish Cemetery of Thessaloniki
The old Jewish Cemetery of Thessaloniki was built in the 15th century after the arrival of Jews who have been expelled from Spain and Portugal. The old Cemetary was located in the area, where today stands the Aristotle University. Although, over the course of years the Jewish Cemetery had suffered a lot of damages from the non-Jewish residents of the city and the Authorities of it, it took one final blow when the Nazis occupied Thessaloniki, a fact that resulted in the total destruction of the Cemetary.
Nowadays only a few tombstones have been left on the University Campus, standing like silent reminders of the perishing of the town’s Jewish community. The new Jewish Cemetery was built in 1938 and is located in Stavroupoli near the Zeitenlik Military Cemetery. Some of the marbles that have been saved from the old cemetery have been transferred there. In the cemetery there are also buried Jewish who were killed in Greece during the German Occupation. Members of the Jewish community visit the Cemetery in order to honor the victims of holocaust as there is also a monument dedicated to their memory there.
White Tower is the most famous landmark of Thessaloniki and is associated with the relaxed atmosphere of the city, along with that it is also one of the greatest dark tourism sites in Thessalοniki. White Tower was built in the place of an old Byzantine tower. Although for many years its construction was attributed to the Venice’s Army, nowadays we know that it was constructed by the Ottomans, after the army of the Sultan Murad ll invaded the city in 1430.
The Tower has been used as a fortress, a garrison and a prison over the years. Because of this, the tower had also acquired the epithet tower of blood, as many massacres took place there. Its current name has resulted from the whitewashing of the Tower by a convict in exchange for his freedom. Nowadays, white tower is used as a museum under the aegis of the Greek Ministry of Culture. There, its visitors can admire an exhibition that presents every spectrum of the city’s multicultural character. Furthermore, there are panels that inform the visitors about the content of the exhibition and the moment’s history.
If you seek an unconventional excursion of great historical value, you should certainly visit those dark tourism sites in Thessaloniki!
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