Thessaloniki was founded by Kassandros about 316 BC. It occupies a geographically and politically strategic site at the crossroads of a number of roads leading to the Balkans hinterland, and to East, West and South. This circumstance and the exploitation of a naturally secure harbour led to the synoecism that brought together several existing settlements and towns in the area to create the new city. The size and extent of this Hellenistic city have not yet been adequately traced. Very little archaeological material or literary evidence has been preserved that might shed light on the original enceinte of the city and its early Roman phases.

About the middle of the 3rd century AD a fortification wall with square towers was hastily constructed, possibly to repel the raids of the Goths. The perimeter of this wall formed the basis of the later imposing fortifications that are preserved to the present day. The new city defences seem to have been completed between the end of the 3rd and the 5th century. The wall was meticulously built and more complex in terms of its structure, materials and defensive function, and the Roman wall was gradually incorporated in it as an interior buttress.

The level areas of the city that were vulnerable to attack were reinforced by triangular redans set closely together and by the construction of an outwork and moat on the west and east. Towers, most of them rectangular, were erected on the inaccessible side of the hill. On the sea side, the city was protected by a fortification wall along the coast. The inscription of Hormisdas on a tower of the east wall provides excellent evidence for work on the defences of the city of Thessaloniki during the 5th century.

These imposing defence works underwent little modification during the subsequent history of the city. We learn of Byzantine building work from inscriptions preserved in the walls and to a lesser extent from the literary sources.

Repairs are attested during the first raid by the Avars and Slavs (582-602), after he Saracen capture of the city in 904, in the 12th century, in 1316, in the reigns of Andronikos III Palaiologos (1328-1341) and Anna Palaiologina (1355/6), the last attested intervention being in the reign of Manuel II Palaiologos during the years 1369-1373, when he ruled the city as Despot.

Interventions on the walls continued during the long period of Turkish rule, the first project being the reconstruction of the tower at the entrance to the Eptapyrgion in 1431. In the 15th century the White Tower was built at the east end of the sea wall and the Tower of the Chain at the north end of the east wall, both of them on the sites of earlier towers. The final addition to the perimeter of the fortification walls was the Vardar Fort, built under Suleyman the Magnificent to reinforce the harbour at the south-east end of the walls.

With the advances in the technolog\ of warfare, the walls gradually lost then importance as defences and in the 19th century they were seen as an obstacle to the expansion of the city. The demolition of the sea wall in 1873 and the subsequent removal of parts of the east and west walls down to the beginning of the 20th century involved the destruction of almost half the perimeter of the walls of Thessaloniki.

City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls
City Walls