The walls of Thessaloníki

A monument of Late Antique and Byzantine fortification.

The fortifications of Thessaloníki constitute one of the best-preserved monuments of Early Christian and Byzantine military architecture. They mirror the city's history, as they are the product of a long building process and continuous maintenance that dates from the foundation of the city by Cassander (316 BC) to the last quarter of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. Although the main building phases date from the third, fourth, and fifth centuries AD, the physical and literary evidence of repairs, additions, and alterations demonstrates that the city's defence was a never-ending arduous practice that entailed rich investments on the part of Thessalonian society and its leaders. Remnants of these celebrated walls stand today integrated into the dense urban grid of the city. Extensive restoration works have been carried out over the past twenty years to preserve this important part of the city's architectural heritage. However, due to their long history, construction phases are hard to date and their study presents great challenges.


The earlier extensive fortification phase that has been clearly traced by the archaeological records dates from the third century. During this period, the devastating intrusions of the Goths in the Balkans instigated the construction of a hastily built wall with the extensive use of spoliated material from the deteriorating public and religious institutions of the ancient city. Following this work, the major phase of the city's enclosure dates from the end of the fourth to the middle of the fifth century.

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Keywords: Thessaloniki,Walls,Fortifications,Byzantine,Greece



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